FROM THE FIRST TIME I tried the true New York-style pizza at my friend Willie Lopez’s La Prima Pizza (it was called by another name at that time), I felt it was the closest thing to the pizza places I grew up with in Long Island and Manhattan, NY.

Since then, in addition to a few first-place finishes in our annual Reader Dining Survey & Contest, La Prima has been named my Favorite Pizza Place in New Tampa & Wesley Chapel all 16 years it has been in business. It also has been one of my favorite restaurants in Wesley Chapel and one of my favorite Italian restaurants in either of our distribution areas. 

It therefore isn’t easy for me to say — or even think — that Willie would even consider selling his place, but the former executive at Salomon Bros. and his wife Lucretia say they are tired and want to be able to retire, so Willie can concentrate on his thriving baseball memorabilia business. The lifelong New York Mets fan has adopted the Tampa Bay Rays as his American League team and he has had Rays season tickets for as long as I’ve known him.

Here’s The Skinny

Established in 2003, La Prima Pizza has been family owned and operated and a staple in the Wesley Chapel and New Tampa communities for the past 16 years.

Willie and Lucretia also say they are prepared to provide an “opportunity of a lifetime” to any individual/family dreaming of owning and operating their own business. This turn-key establishment offers a huge existing customer base and tremendous future growth opportunities for the appropriate fit.

La Prima Pizza only uses the best ingredients on the market. The pizza dough is made fresh daily and offerings include chicken and veal entrées (like the tender veal parmigiana in the photo above right; I order it with extra sauce) made eight different quality ways, as well as many seafood dishes. There’s also homemade lasagna and dozens of other menu items — and all sauces are made from scratch, including Alfredo, vodka, pink and red or white clam sauce. Appetizers include great calamari, fresh mozzarella and tomato and Buffalo wings, amongst many other choices.

And, just because there are really so many very good pizza places in our area, I felt I owed it to myself and my staff to order the amazing meat lovers pizza (left) before writing this story. Senior video producer Gavin Olsen also raved about his pepperoni calzone and sales/office assistant Janet Levins loved her cheesesteak.

In other words, if you’re not going to buy La Prima Pizza (1211 BBD Blvd., next to Super Target), you should stop in, call (813) 907-2878 or visit and place an order today. But, Willie says if you are interested, you should call him at the restaurant — whether or not you have any prior restaurant experience. Willie says he will help in the transition of the business and transfer all of his knowledge to any qualified party. But, do it soon so Willie and Lucretia can retire and I can continue to enjoy the pizza I love!

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