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Get a slice of New York at Medford's Paisans Pizzeria

Pizzerias seem to occupy nearly every major intersection in Medford.

While they might not be as ubiquitous as coffee drive-ups, they dot the Rogue Valley with regularity. There are family-run and corporate-owned establishments, eat-in, take-and-bake, large gathering places with watering holes and intimate settings.

So what would possess long-time restaurateur Vinny DiCostanzo to open up a pizza shop at a location that has seen four tenants come and go in the past decade?

"I wanted to create something for my family to work in, a place like we grew up with in New York," said DiCostanzo, who opened his first Italian restaurant on North Phoenix Road in 1999.

More than once DiCostanzo has tried to leave the restaurant business behind, most recently exiting the scene when he sold out to his father Vincenzo two years ago.

What makes Paisans Pizzeria, at 149 S. Central Ave., across Ninth Street from the library, different is that he makes a true New York-style pizza, DiCostanzo said.

"I know all the owners in the restaurant business, and they all do a wonderful job," DiCostanzo said. "But New York is a different style. You have the Chicago, thick and deep-dish style and the New York, with its thin crust."

Then there's mozzarella cheese made with buffalo milk from Minnesota.

Like back in the Big Apple, the idea is to have the pizza ready when the customer shows up. Much of the Rogue Community College campus is within a block of the pizzeria, and students are known to hurry from class to their car.

"It's a busy corner and full of students," DiCostanzo said. "The library is right there, and the bus stop is across the way. I've had someone run in and say, 'I've got to catch a bus in three minutes,' grab a slice and go. I've already made the pizza, so they don't have to wait during the busy rush hour. They can get a slice of pizza and drink for $3.50."

There's seating for 16 inside and chairs outside, as well.

It will take time, he admitted, to recreate that feel he grew up with, but he's heartened by the initial response.

Four businesses — Stop Drop 'N Click, The Masters Music & Learning Center, Joey's Italian Deli and the Pretzelmaker — have rolled through the premises since DiCostanzo considered the Central Avenue spot 10 years ago. Two months ago, he decided it was time to give the corner shop a try.

"I have a picture with my wife and daughter," he said. "We were going to take that location, but I was operating three Vinny's and it might have been a little too much at the time."

His wife's health concerns have limited his endeavors in recent years, but his children — 20, 17 and 12 — are now active in the operation.

"A lot of places come and go, but I'm hoping all of our old customers seek me out," DiCostanzo said. "There is nothing like having a slice of pizza and building memories."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.

Vinny and Gina DiCostanzo, along with their son, Nick, have opened Paisans Pizza across from the Medford library on Central Avenue.