An Appreciation: Antonio Brogna

Antonio “Tony” Brogna Photo by Legacy.com

Antonio “Tony” Brogna, the longtime owner of Tony’s Pizza, died at the age of 70 on Feb. 11 following a long battle with dementia.

Born in Castello del Lago, Avellino, Italy in 1953, Brogna immigrated to the United States at the age of 16 in 1969. For more than a decade, he worked at Caruso’s Pizza in Lynn before starting his own business and opening Tony’s at 1 School St. in 1981.

He and his wife, Patricia, served the Marblehead community for decades, and were especially known for welcoming in hungry students who were just getting out of school and looking for a quick bite to eat.

After a devastating fire on Feb. 19, 2003 burnt his restaurant’s building nearly to the ground, Brogna and Tony’s Pizza made a triumphant comeback two years later, reopening in April 2005.

The return of Tony’s Pizza brought an institution back to that part of town that had been taken away, and residents packed the shop almost immediately.

“He loved the kids. He’d come out and give them fried dough and he always loved seeing them smile,” Glenn Long, who has worked at Tony’s since it reopened after the fire, said. “He’d toss the pizza in the air for them, and they loved him back.”

Long also added that Brogna loved to work, and would never take a day off.

“He was a hard worker, that’s for sure. He wouldn’t close the store for nothing,” Long said. “He was here everyday.”

Food and family were the two things that Brogna held dearest, and those who worked at Tony’s also became a part of his family. In addition to his passion for the restaurant, he enjoyed collecting pennies and his “greatest joy” — spending time with his grandchildren.

For the last few days, a poster has been left at the front of the restaurant for people to sign to show their appreciation for Brogna, which has garnered dozens of signatures.

Town Moderator Jack Attridge, on his All Marblehead Facebook page, spoke about the legacy that Brogna left behind.

“Tony’s was an entity along with the man himself. As an entity, he welcomed us all in for decades for a slice or a full meal. Gatherings of co-workers, friends, family, or a booth by yourself,” the post read. “The man himself had a friendly, hardworking presence and was always surrounded by Trish, his children, and then grandchildren. We lived with the Brognas through devastation and happy times. Marblehead shares our deepest condolences as we have lost a thread in our fabric with Tony’s passing.”

The post drew dozens of comments from customers and community members sharing their kind words and thoughts. Many wrote that they considered Brogna to be a legend in town.

“Tony’s was such a big part of our childhood. Thank you, Tony, for ALWAYS allowing us to gather in your restaurant,” Facebook user Heidi Mugnano Ferrante wrote. “May you Rest In Peace and may your family feel the love and strength being sent their way!!”

Walter Horan also commented on the post that “as a regular customer for 40-plus years, I consider Tony to be the best, kindest, friendliest — the epitome of what a restaurateur can be. The way he overcame the tragic fire and rebuilt bigger and better was a testament to his resilience and dedication to Marblehead.”

Long said that the restaurant is looking forward to keeping Brogna’s impact on the community alive and well.

“We’re going to carry Tony’s legacy on,” he said.

Brogna is survived by Patricia; his children Anthony Brogna and his wife, Jamie, of Danvers and Christina Moore and her husband, David, of Peabody; his grandchildren Samantha, Abigail, Anthony, Elizabeth, and Patrick; his siblings Maria Tranfaglia and her husband, Vincenzo, of Italy, Gennaro Brogna of Italy, Federico Brogna of Lynn, Angelina Brogna of Marblehead, Julie Marino of New Hampshire, and Carlo Brogna of Lynn; his brother-in-law Edward Williams and his wife, Heather; his sister-in-law Cheryl Williams, and his many nieces, nephews, cousins, and close friends.

A funeral will be held on Thursday, Feb. 22, starting at 9:30 a.m. at Solimine Funeral Home in Lynn. There will then be a funeral mass at St. Pius V Church in Lynn at 10:30 a.m. and a burial at Puritan Lawn Memorial Park in Peabody.

Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend.

  • Ryan Vermette is the Item's Marblehead reporter. He graduated from Springfield College in 2021 with a Bachelor's degree in Communications/Sports Journalism. While in school, he wrote multiple sports articles for the school newspaper, the Springfield Student, and joined Essex Media Group in August, 2022. Ryan is a college basketball fanatic and an avid Boston sports fan and in his free time, enjoys video games and Marvel movies.