Owner of 50-Year-Old Pizza Shop Has Stories to Tell

According to venturacountystar.com, “during the dog days of August, when the kitchen is too hot and the lure of the Ventura County Fair proves too much for even their most loyal patrons, many restaurateurs near the fairgrounds close up shop and go on vacation.”

“Not Johnny “Tony” Barrios, owner of Tony’s Pizzaria in downtown Ventura.”

“’Foot traffic, we used to get it better. Then they changed the date of the fair from October. School kids used to march by here in their band uniforms, after the parade and on their way to the fairgrounds, and the crowds would flood after them,’ Barrios said.”

“He stopped talking long enough to wave back to a woman shouting “Hi, Tony!” as she drove by in a metallic pumpkin-orange sedan.”

“‘But we still do fine,’ he added.”

“Barrios’ modest pizza joint has been in downtown Ventura for 50 years, the last 41 at Figueroa Street where it meets Thompson Boulevard, ducks under the freeway overpass and heads straight for the fairgrounds. The location puts Tony’s Pizzaria in prime position to catch people going to and from the fair, which opened Wednesday and runs through Aug. 16. Inside the fairgrounds, a single slice of cheese pizza will set you back $4.50. Barrios charges $5.50 for two slices of cheese pizza and a can of soda. Whole pizzas are $11 and up. The nine-item list of toppings includes the usual suspects, plus “anchovie” and Bacon Bits.”

“’We don’t do chicken, bread sticks, salad bars or any of that other stuff. We make nothing but pizza,’ he said.”

“But now that Barrios is 83, he has decided to offer something new: For customers curious enough to ask about the old photograph of him hanging on the wall of the 800-square-foot pizzeria, Barrios will share stories of his experiences during World War II.”

“’One day I’m a kid riding my bike on Meta Street. The next, I’m 18 years and 1 month old and I’m in the war,’ Barrios said. ‘I think back on what us young kids went through there — and here I stand, making pizzas. I don’t know what it means.’”