The Nicest Place in Pennsylvania: Delta Pizza in Delta
NICEST PLACES IN AMERICA 2019 FINALIST
"The Heartbeat of Delta"
The local pizzeria owner made sure his Amish neighbors never went hungry. When his restaurant burned down, they repaid the debt.
In 2013, right before Christmas, Delta Pizza burned to the ground. It was a big deal in the tiny hamlet of Delta, Pennsylvania. The remote town of some 700 people on the Maryland border doesn’t have a lot of options when it comes to where to eat.
Then, something magical happened.
“We’re cleaning up and I heard this noise outside, like a train was coming through,” says Sal Ferranti, the owner since his father, Guiseppe, died in 1999. “It was 30 Amish men in buggies. They helped for one day with the demolition of the building.”
As it turns out, they were just returning the favor. For years, Sal had been making sure that extra food from catering jobs would make it to Amish folks who needed it.
In fact, the whole town pitched in to help Sal reopen. They were paying him back too, for his family’s 30 years of serving charity and kindness along with their slices. On snow days, kids gather to eat free pizza and watch cartoons until their parents get home from work. About two times a month, people gather for fund-raisers for various causes, enjoying donated pizza, of course. Recently, Sal came across a homeless man in town, and a Facebook post later got him a job and a place to stay.
“That’s just the kind of guy Sal is,” says Deborah Shade, who nominated Delta Pizza. “Anybody that comes to him with any kind of request, he’s there for them.”
Turns out, he learned it from his dad. In 1984, when the family arrived from Italy, they had nothing and didn’t know the language. After getting citizenship in 1987, Guiseppe bought flags for every flagpole in town—and they fly to this day. It was Guiseppe who started holding fund-raisers, getting involved in civic life, and making sure to help anyone who needed it.
So after Delta Pizza’s grand reopening in 2015, Sal knew what he had to do. Each year he chooses a different Amish family who helped with the demolition and spends two hard days laboring on their farm, picking tomatoes or tobacco, or whatever they need done.
“They were so giving and so helping, I have to give back to them, to everyone who helped,” Sal says.
An Italian family taught our community how special it is. I have since moved away but I keep up on Facebook and cherish the memories with every post.
Delta Pizza was founded by Sal’s father. When he died it tore this community apart but he taught Sal well. These are some of the things I have read about in the last year that he has done.
When schools close early due to bad weather he allows kids to come and stay at the store until parents can get home for free. He even offers to feed them and if the parents don’t have the money to pay it’s okay. When it’s really cold he encourages seniors to come stay warm in his store. For halloween he gives every kid a free slice of pizza. He donates more pizza then many pizza shops will ever make for the fire department, boy scouts, schools, senior center and many more groups. Once this year he found a homeless man and with a post on Facebook by the time he was done he had a home, job, clothes and enough to start over. On Saturday mornings kids can come in and clean up and he lets them watch cartoons on the large screen and feeds them.
Also, we have a large Amish community. They usually stay to themselves and aren’t very involved. But when the restaurant burnt down several years ago even the Amish came out to help.
When I say Sal makes us all better people, I mean everyone. When he rebuilt he opened a lounge and he has live bands almost every weekend to support them. Recently he had a fundraiser for a family that lost their home to a house fire. He is always donating time, space and food for anyone. Each year he gets a tractor and trailer full of fifty pound bags of potatoes and just hands them out to anyone passing by.
When we had a summer storm that knocked out the power for several days he was the first one to have the generator up and running and had cases of water for people that needed it when stores were sold out and had air conditioning running for those that needed it.
Whenever there is an issue that needs addressed, Sal is always the first one there. This would sound like normal things to do for most established older businessmen, but Sal is just this little young guy that makes everyday better for every person he can possible reach.
And for me, an old lady 500 miles away now, he still brightens my day by a single post of Facebook that keeps me in touch with a place I called home. I just wish I was better writer so that I could explain just how special this guy is.