Frank Mastro Documents Are a Treasure

Do you love the smell of old paper? Are you intrigued by vintage advertisements and photos? Answering either of these in the affirmative means you should read further, because this is one of those situations cool cats like us only dream of. I recently received a message from my friend (and excellent pizza maker) Norma Knepp inviting me to view some important documents in storage at the home of the grandson of one of pizza’s most important (yet relatively unknown) personalities: Frank Mastro. 

The ubiquitous stainless steel pizza oven we all know and love was likely developed by Mastro in the 1930s. He died in the late 1950s and his son Vincent his legacy, exposing pizza to the masses through franchising and his epic 1964 World’s Fair Mastro Pizza Pavilion. It’s a huge story that explains pizza’s jump from humble Italian dish to widespread American classic, but the Mastro name has all but vanished from common history. 

Last month I had the pleasure of visiting Mastro’s grandson Frank Ferrentino (along with fellow pizza history nerd Peter Regas) to view and scan some significant documents he’d had in storage. We found some amazing letters, articles, and photos that help illustrate the evolution of pizza in the critical decades between 1930 and 1960. I’ll be posting more about the collection as we dig more into it, but here’s a decent start.


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