By Karen Hendricks | Photography by Casey Martin
Flour is the foundation of some of our favorite “comfort foods,” including pizza, subs, and pasta. So, how appropriate that Antica Napoli Pizza features more than a dozen unique pizzas, more than three dozen subs plus Stromboli, and a dozen varieties of pasta, all created by Owner Ignazio “Iggy” Farina, whose very name “Farina” is Italian for “flour.”
While Antica Napoli’s menu reflects Farina’s Italian heritage with New York influences, his larger-than-life personality and warmth drives this downtown Gettysburg restaurant and creates a friendly atmosphere for guests. “We don’t call them customers—we call them guests,” Farina says. “We put forward that mindset, treating everyone as friends, making them feel at home.”
“The Secret Ingredient”
Antica Napoli, Italian for “old Naples,” opened its doors under Farina’s ownership in March 2015. It offers a traditional pizza shop menu but with homemade flavor. “Ninety percent of our food is made, cut, chopped, or prepped in-house,” Farina says, including pasta sauce, pizza sauce, and dough.
Antica Napoli turns out an average of 400 to 1,000 pizzas per week, thanks in great part to its proximity to Gettysburg College. That’s 750 to 1,000 pounds of flour every week!
Traditional New York-style pizza is round, with a thin crust and a sauce that‘s savory—with oregano, basil, and garlic—says Farina. Antica Napoli offers traditional cheese pizza, along with plenty of combination pies, plus a few creative “Iggy-style pizzas,” as Farina calls them. One specialty is a BLT Pizza, with a base of mozzarella cheese and bacon. After baking, it’s topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and drizzled with mayo. Farina says there’s a secret ingredient in all New York-style pizza pies—“a little bit of an attitude, a little pizazz.”
Similarly, the sub menu offers traditional options plus creative combinations, including the Savage Sub dedicated to pro-wrestler Rick Savage, who occasionally stops by. It’s toasted combination of ham, chicken, onion rings, mayo, provolone, and mozzarella. Another unique creation is “The Iggmeister”—a sub featuring hamburger, cheese, bacon, onion rings, jalapeño poppers, BBQ sauce, and mayo.
Gi Gi Puffs, created by Farina’s daughter Giada when she was 9 years old, are specialty dessert items at Antica Napoli. These are balls of deep-fried pizza dough, with fresh cannoli cream piped inside, and topped with powdered sugar. “We sell a ton of them just because of the name,” Farina says with a smile.
“A Local Mom and Pop Feel”
Farina’s life and career path, leading toward Antica Napoli, took many twisting turns. Born and raised in Palermo, Sicily until the age of 16, his family moved to Long Island, N.Y. in 1998. He met his wife while earning his architecture degree at Harrisburg Area Community College.
“I realized I always had a passion for cooking. I left architecture and took a job managing a McDonalds which received many awards,” he says. After working on the operational and managerial side of numerous central Pennsylvania chain restaurants, Farina, now 34, says he acquired the skills needed to operate his own restaurant.
“I talked to my wife and kids—we make all decisions together—and we had the idea to open a pizza shop with a local mom and pop feel, and build rapport with the community,” he says.
Hearing about a Lancaster County pizza shop for sale, Farina dialed a phone number and asked for the owner—Frank. But, he serendipitously dialed a number that was one digit off, and instead called the previous owner of Antica Napoli—also named Frank. It’s a “mistake” that he says he reflects on every day. “I came to see the shop, saw the location by Gettysburg College, and realized the opportunity here,” he says. “Every step led me to this.”
“Not Just Another Pizza Shop”
With four daughters and two sons, Farina’s a family man, so it’s fitting that he also creates a family atmosphere at Antica Napoli. As we’re talking, he calls out greetings to a steady stream of customers—many of them college students. “How’s the pizza, girls?” he calls to two tables of sorority sisters. “So good, Iggy!” they say with smiles.
“I’m from New Jersey, so I’m used to really good pizza,” says Kate Helmstetter, a Gettysburg College junior. She says Antica Napoli’s pizza “tastes like home—it’s such good pizza.”
“I was gone for a semester, and when I came back he actually remembered me,” says Sarah Nelson, a senior at Gettysburg College. “It’s so telling of how much he cares about us. It’s not just a job for him—he really loves the college and the students.”
Farina prides himself on being involved with the community, whether it’s donating pies to a Gettysburg High School theater production, enjoying visits by area police officers, or chatting with locals and tourists alike.
Rachel Wilkins, a senior at Gettysburg College, says “Iggy” also helps campus causes, such as a recent 5K fundraiser hosted at Antica Napoli. “He’s super helpful and always involved in philanthropy,” says Wilkins. “Antica Napoli is not just another pizza shop.”