EG Love Stories: Two Guys – One from Italy, One from Guatemala – And Pizza

Victor Vargas and John Illiano, pizza maker and owner respectively, of Frank and John’s Pizza on Main Street.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

It is “Old EG” heresy to suggest that there is any pizza as good as Frank and John’s From Italy pizza. It’s a thin-crust pie that glistens with oil and sometimes cooks a shade beyond brown. The occasional bubbles in the crust are the stuff of legend – even a lucky charm for some.

Quite simply, it’s delicious.

The Main Street mainstay started with two guys from Italy. That was the name originally – Two Guys from Italy – until the national Two Guys pizza chain threatened legal action. Frank Illiano and his nephew John Illiano – who came to the U.S. from Naples – changed the name to Frank and John’s From Italy. In 1972, John took over the restaurant. He may have aged over the decades but it’s awfully hard to tell. He remains the white-shirted, white-aproned, wise-cracking head of the kitchen.

The other guy behind the magic today at Frank and John’s is Victor Vargas, from Zacapa, Guatemala. Victor’s been working at the restaurant since 1995, when he got a job there washing dishes. Today, he’s the one usually working the pizza dough and making the pies. He waits tables too, if the need arises.

They have a playful, easy relationship born of years working side by side and, undoubtably, a little bit of luck when it comes to chemistry.

Victor’s wife, Carla, who often handles the front of the restaurant, says Victor doesn’t want to leave John alone.

Which means the old Two Guys still has two guys. It works.


This is one in a series of East Greenwich love stories we will be featuring during February in conjunction with our February matching donation drive. Find out more about the drive here. Or click on the Donate button below. And, if you have a love story you’d like to share – anything from a story about best friends or a child and their pet to love of a special place or business in East Greenwich – email egreenwichnews@gmail.com.

 





6 Replies to “EG Love Stories: Two Guys – One from Italy, One from Guatemala – And Pizza”

  1. Frank & John’s is a treasure! When we moved from NYC, we rented a house on the Hill for a short time. We bragged to our NY friends and family that we could still WALK to a pizzeria and get GOOD pizza. That combination is hard to find! So nice to read a bit of their background.

  2. My wife and I lived in EG . We now live in NH and we stop there every time we come back to RI. Absolutely the best food and people!
    Rocco & Deb Tosoni

  3. I grew Up eating this pizza. Best pizza I have Ever had. We recently moved to Texas and my husbands only request before leaving RI, was a large pepperoni pizza from Frank and Johns.
    Victor and his wife Carla are the nicest people. We will miss them all and the only pizza that I will Ever say is my favorite.

  4. Superfluous commas can, indeed, constipate an otherwise effective sentence. (Believe me, having taught freshman writing 1962-2010, I speak from experience.) Yet really good writers do more than obey the ground rules of grammar which enable educated writers and readers readily to make sense.

    For example, see what a lovely moment of hesitation before a surprise that the first comma in this sentence evokes: “The other guy behind the magic today at Frank and John’s is Victor Vargas, from Zacapa, Guatemala.”

    And how nice too that setting off a man’s wife’s name with a comma can convey far more than the possibility of her being one among many wives; instead, I find here not prosaic communication but its poetic experience: “Victor’s wife, Carla, who often handles the front of the restaurant, says Victor doesn’t want to leave John alone.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *