Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to get up and go to work—especially if a witch has put a curse on your pizza shop.
That’s the story behind the now-defunct Nonna’s Pizzeria, a family-owned shop in Magna, Utah, where demons and ghosts reportedly lurked in the basement (and sometimes in the kitchen) for years. And, as if all that wasn’t bad enough, the pizzeria, owned by Sebastian Randazzo and his family, finally had to shut down in December 2020 after a very real earthquake, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Was it the work of evil forces? Or did the Randazzos just have overactive imaginations and a lot of bad luck? Maybe both?
Paranormal investigators from the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures were certainly believers. They shot an episode of their long-running show at Nonna’s for the 2018 season, in which host Zak Bagans said he and his crew encountered “some of the most disturbing and extreme negative hauntings that I’ve heard of in a long time.”
“This is one of the most bizarre investigations we’ve ever done: pizza, witches and demons,” Bagans said early in the episode. “Is that what you want for dinner tonight? Because that’s what we’ve getting ready to have.”
In the Ghost Adventures episode, Sebastian Randazzo related a vaguely outlined story about a Nonna’s Pizzeria employee who at first proved highly valuable—until her relationship with the family soured for some unexplained reason. “She was…a lot of help for us, and she seemed like she was close to us,” Randazzo explained. Eventually, though, Sebastian had to fire her. And then, he said, “She attached a dark entity to me.”
“It was causing serious problems with my family because of the way I was acting,” Sebastian told Bagans.
Bagans asked, “Are you telling me that this entity was possessing you?”
“Pretty much…I would have mood swings where I would just go ballistic.”
Sebastian’s sudden fits of rage unnerved and frightened his loved ones. His daughter, Nisa, said her father began “yelling and stuff that he wouldn’t normally do. He’s a sweet, sweet man, and it was like this thing is taking over him.”
Sebastian also began to feel sudden jolts of pain in the back of his head and down his back. He broke into heavy sweats and experienced seizures, his body sometimes twitching and contorting uncontrollably.
How the Randazzos determined that the former employee had put a curse on them is never explained. But more weirdness ensued. One day, Nisa was working in the kitchen when some unknown entity seemingly attacked her. “I don’t know what it was,” she told Ghost Adventures, “but it felt like two hands had [wrapped] around my throat and I couldn’t breathe for a…it was very scary.”
Sebastian, Jr., six years old at the time, also said a ghostly little girl sometimes appeared to him, although she didn’t scare him. “She’s really nice,” he said.
Bad sign, Bagan told his viewers. Very bad sign! “Wherever there’s demonic activity, there’s always the spirit of a little girl,” Bagans said. “I’m a very big believer, 100%, in demonic mimicking…portraying something that’s sweet and innocent to lure you in so that you will switch your personality from angry and fearful to inviting this other spirit in.”
It turned out that the alleged “witch” had supposedly trapped entities in the basement and “summoned a demon” to attach itself to Sebastian. The Ghost Adventures team set out to uncover evidence of ghostly and demonic activity at Nonna’s Pizzeria, and what they found seemed to terrify them—then again, this is, after all, reality TV.
For starters, they trekked down into the “haunted” basement and came upon a mattress and pillow that appeared to be stained with blood as well as dark handprints on the wall. Determined to talk to the reputed entities, they used an “SB11 Spirit Box” to “tap into the electromagnetic frequencies where these spirits can be heard.”
Soon enough, the investigators were rattled by mysterious banging noises that seemed to shake the entire building. Then, a voice was picked up on the “Spirit Box.”
“Behind you,” the voice said.
“What’s behind me?” an investigator asked.
“Show you,” the voice responded.
“Can you show us now? We’re very impatient.”
“Patient,” the voice said. Then, in a deeper, more distorted tone, it repeated the word: “Patient.”
The investigators also employed an EVP device that “gives you all kinds of data, from luminance to distance, humidity, dew point….These environmental elements can be manipulated by a spirit’s energy, allowing them to communicate through an electronic word generator database,” according to Bagans.
“Can I ask you, how did you get here in this building?” an investigator asked the spirits.
On the EVP device’s screen, a word appeared: “Born.”
“What do you want us to do in this basement?”
A reply came immediately. “Dig.”
“What are we gonna find in the basement when we dig?”
The investigators took this reply to actually be two words—“a head”—condensed into a single word. Now they were freaking out.
One of the investigators then inquired as to who choked the Randazzos’ daughter in the kitchen. The reply came back: “Scratch.”
“Who scratched her?”
“Who is Master?”
The alleged spirit replied, “Satan.”
And that was all the investigators needed to hear. (Note: “Old Scratch” is actually a nickname or pseudonym for Satan, according to Wikipedia.) Convinced the haunting was legit, they decided it was time to take action. They performed a “cleansing ritual” to banish the alleged spirits. “Smoke from these herbs will remove you,” Bagans intoned. “Any doorways to a dark world shall be closed and sealed forever. This family shall suffer no more.”
No such luck. At the end of the Ghost Adventures episode, Bagans said his team checked back later with the Randazzos, who reported the pizzeria remained haunted. Evidently, the cleansing ritual didn’t work.
The Randazzos must have learned to deal with the alleged spirits, though, because Nonna’s Pizzeria remained open for at least two more years and reportedly attracted thrill-seeking customers from across the country who had seen the Ghost Adventures episode. But bad luck continued to hound the business. According to Fox13, the family shut the restaurant down for good in early December 2020 due to setbacks presumably unrelated to the alleged witch’s curse. In March of that year, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake rocked the Salt Lake Valley and led to a decline in business, followed by the pandemic.
“Everything in our lives is this restaurant,” Sebastian told Fox13 after the earthquake hit. “And it’s just like getting kicked in the face when we’re down.” At the time, he added that he was unsure “if we have the means to come back,” but Nonna’s Pizzeria did reopen later before going out of business that December.
So what did the Randazzos do next? They became paranormal investigators themselves, launching a YouTube channel about their spooky adventures: The Para Family. Their stated aim: “to make this channel into the ‘Ghost Adventures‘ of YouTube.” In their most recent video, posted in October 2022, three members of the Randazzo family checked out the “ghost fields” of Lake Mead, a reservoir in Nevada that was also featured in a Ghost Adventures special that aired this past May on The Discovery Channel.
Frustratingly, the mystery of the alleged haunting of Nonna’s Pizzeria ends with another mystery: What are the Randazzos up to now? The Facebook page for Nonna’s Pizzeria suggests a couple of different businesses operated by the family since the pizzeria closed down: first, Nonna’s Wellness, offering “the best in wellness products worldwide,” and, more recently, an e-commerce business called Startup Systems.
One thing’s for sure: Judging from their YouTube videos, the Randazzos, after closing down Nonna’s Pizzeria, seemed to more fascinated with the supernatural than frightened. So we’ll call that a happy ending to this wonderfully weird tale of Utah’s haunted pizzeria.