Sam Primucci, the passionate Italian food appassionato who grew up on a working farm in the Basilicata region of Italy, has been shortlisted as a top 75 finalist for this year’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards. Inspired by the success of his well-known pizza restaurant chain, Pizza Nova, the recognition coincides with the 60th anniversary of the business he helped to start in 1963, 11 years after arriving to Canada.

“It’s an honor to be recognized among such a diverse and inspiring group of people,” Primucci said. “Canada has been a land of opportunity and community for me. I am grateful, too, that so many Canadians have chosen to join me in varying ways over the years in my passion for Italian food and culture. Grazie a tutti!”

Presented by Canadian Immigrant magazine, the awards program is celebrating its 15th anniversary and has become Canada’s premier national awards program celebrating the inspiring achievements of immigrants.

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this photo shows Sam Vespa, with gray hair and a gray mustache, perched on a red Vespa scooter branded with the Pizza Nova logo

Pizza Nova

Primucci immigrated to Canada in 1951 with his family at the age of 12. The Primucci family left their working farm in Palazzo San Gervasio, Italy, and immigrated to Canada, where they eventually settled in Toronto, boarding with fellow immigrants and working at an asphalt-mixing company. Seven months later, the family bought its first home.

Primucci endured many challenges integrating into the Canadian school system. An easy target, he was frequently bullied, and his confidence was shattered. By age 14, Sam started working, delivering pizzas for a Toronto restaurant. Gaining confidence on the job, Sam noticed the trend for deliveries, still new at that time, and the idea of a take-out pizza restaurant was born in his mind.

Founded by Primucci and his brothers, the first Pizza Nova location opened on May 12, 1963, 11 years to the day after the Primucci family immigrated to Canada. The family worked to expand the business, creating hundreds of jobs and franchise business opportunities along the way.

Pizza Nova now has more than 150 stores and concession locations in Southern Ontario. It also has a line of Primucci-branded products featuring Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Homestyle Tomato Sauce, Italian Hot Peppers, Spicy Green Olives, and Sundried Black Olives.

A distinguished panel of judges made up of past winners reviewed all nominees and presented a list of 75 finalists. All Canadians can vote for their top nominees from April 11 through June 9 at the awards’ website. The 25 winners will be announced in August 2023 in Canadian Immigrant Magazine and online at



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