Luigi Romano kneads and tosses pizza dough like he's been doing it all his life.
Probably because he has been. Romano, who moved from Italy to Pennsylvania at age 12, opened his first pizza shop in Doylestown at 16 years old.
"This is all I know how to do," Romano tells Patch in his unmistakable accent. "I love to cook."
But, much has changed since the then budding restaurateur made his first pizza pie. He's owned his share of casual fare pizza shops and fine dining Italian eateries in Philadelphia, Maryland and New Jersey. So many in fact, that Romano said he has lost track of how many restaurants he's owned, operated and traded in for something new.
He and his wife Vanda and three kids moved back to Horsham recently after running restaurants in Maryland. About two months ago, the family reopened the former Giuliano's Brick Oven Pizza and Trattoria Easton Road in Horsham as Pizza Mista.
The name, he said, means "variety" and with his brick oven and regular oven, Romano said that's exactly what he serves up. The difference between the two, he said, is "day and night."
"I guess it's the wood," Romano said, adding that a basic Margherita pizza made mozzarella cheese and sauce works best in a brick oven. "I grew up on that."
His kids, who missed their friends and relatives, may have brought the family back to Horsham, but Romano said the economy caused the switch from fine dining to the upscale pizzeria, which features sandwiches, panini and pasta offerings.
"After so many years it's a lot of work," he said of the fancier fare. "This is more simple and fun."
Besides Mr. Romano and his wife, Pizza Mista employs four workers. Mr. Romano said he hopes to double that number soon. A business owner at heart, now that Pizza Mista has gotten off the ground, he's also planning an upcoming opening of Pasta Mista in Chalfont.
But, he has no plans to let go of his most recent enterprise.
"I'm not moving from here," Romano said. "This is the base."
Since the Romano family lives across the street from Pizza Mista, Vanda said once kids are home from school, the 67-seat business becomes a family function of sorts.
"We've always been family oriented," she said. "That's what it's about."
Mr. Romano said the kids sometimes help with the gelato, an Italian style ice cream that he imports from Bindi, Italy.
While Mr. Romano said there's no other profession for him, he is not keen on his kids following in his entrepreneurial footsteps.
"I hope they go to school," he said, adding that a restaurant business requires long hours, with little time off and true dedication. "You've got to have passion for it. You've got to love it ... I'm always the first one in here and the last one to walk out."