I am sad to report the death of Aloysius C. "Al" Pawlowicz, the co-owner of, and pizzamaker at, Pizzaland, the pizzeria immortalized in the opening credits of the Sopranos. Pawlowicz made me some of the most memorable, unique and downright delicious pizza that I have had. He suffered a heart attack and died on October 28, 2010, which must seem somewhat ironic to those that knew him, as he clearly had a huge heart. But considering that he worked upward of 12-hour days, often seven days a week, the result is perhaps not so surprising. Pawlowicz put his heart and soul in his pizza, and it showed, but more important, he was dedicated to his family, which he talked about proudly and lovingly while he served his "old fashioned"–style pies.
At the beginning of October I noticed a comment by Slice reader atown mjm on my review of Pizzaland which I think pretty much summed up the type of person Pawlowicz was:
Hello, everyone. I just ate at Pizzaland with my girlfriend. We had one of those amazing experiences you never forget and will always make you smile. Al, the owner, was working the shop alone and serving up the best pie we have ever tasted. Just like the article said, Al gave us a one-of-a-kind experience. We had six slices and two Cokes. Finally, when it came time to pay, Al said it will be $6. That's too good of a deal. We gave him a twenty and said 'Thank you.' He tried not to take it. Great pizza, great person."
Our thoughts go out to Mr. Pawlowicz's family, friends, and fans. Letters of condolence can be left at his guestbook on Legacy.com.