Thanks to wonderful, loyal customers, Mary Zifer’s pizza shop has been serving the area since 1953, a successful family pizza operation that has used the same Peerless 2324P oven the entire time!
The Mary Tomabene Zifer Family was raised on the three P’s: Pizza, Pasta and Pasta-Faggiola-Italian Bean Soup. The pizza she made for her family was not like what people know as pizza today. It was made from fresh dead dough with tomatoes, peppers, oregano, basil and grated parmesan cheese, sprinkled on top. It was served cold, almost like Focaccia bread of today. Thursday night at the Zifer house was like most Italian homes throughout the country, “Pasta Night”, where a big pot of spaghetti and homemade bread with olive oil was served. On the other nights as Italian macaroni and bean soup, “pasta Faggiola” awaited the Zifer family. It was always served with fresh baked bread and olive oil.
In 1953, after a layoff at the ceramics plant where Mary worked, she began to investigate the pizza shops that had opened in the Canton, Ohio area. With little capital, Mary began to produce pizzas for resale out of her house and kitchen. Although not officially a pizza carryout yet, Mary did sell pizzas to students from St. Joseph’s High School at lunch time and after school. As her business began to grow, Mary needed to expand from her kitchen based operation. With a loan from the National Bank of Dover for $800, Mary purchased a Peerless oven and pans from Ohio China Supply in Canton Ohio. She enclosed her porch area and Mary Zifer’s Pizza Shop was in business.
Mary started the first pizza delivery in the area. Hers husband, Joe, delivered pizzas to workers at the Reeves and Greer Steel, Shenago and General Electric plants. Joe also cut the pepperoni and cheese for the toppings. Mary even shipped pizzas overseas to her son! Joe was stationed in Japan in 1953 and Jim was stationed on Korea in 1955. Just like Mary’s co-workers at the ceramics plant, Joe and Jim’s friends enjoyed Mary’s pizza. Mary would individually wrap each piece of pizza in aluminum foil and ship them in cigar boxes. They made the 6-day journey still fresh and delicious.
Just as Mary emphasized to her children the importance of family, all the children worked in the pizza shop at some point in their lives. As the pizza business grew, some of her children opened other shops in the area. Mary Zifer’s Pizza Shops are still in operation at Dover, Ohio and New Philadelphia, Ohio locations.
The Peerless 2324P oven is still in operation at the Dover, Ohio Location and still bakes good pizzas!