Final Four

Siracusa’s Pizzeria brings Central New York flavor, Orange atmosphere to Atlanta

ATLANTA — In Siracusa’s New York Style Pizzeria, a commemorative Sports Illustrated magazine cover featuring Carmelo Anthony hangs under a television in the corner of the restaurant. A giant NCAA Tournament bracket — with Syracuse’s progress handwritten in marker and highlighted in orange — is next to the door. And New York state, with a dot marking Syracuse on the map, is in the restaurant’s logo instead of the island of Sicily.

Everything points to Siracusa’s being somewhere in Syracuse, N.Y. But it’s nearly 1,000 miles away — about 20 minutes northwest of Atlanta in the city of Smyrna, Ga.

“When you’re from Syracuse, you truly bleed orange,” Siracusa’s owner and operator Dave Cappotto said. “It’s always home to us — there’s a lot of affection for it.”

Cappotto owns Siracusa’s with his lifelong friend Mark Heffron. The two have been friends since kindergarten, he said, and started working with one another when they were 16 years old at the Wegmans in Syracuse. They bought the pizzeria in 2011, Cappotto said, trying to build a “true little neighborhood place” and bring a bit of community to Atlanta — a city he said is fragmented.

The restaurant isn’t completely Orange themed. The pizzeria’s name is spelled the Sicilian way — Cappotto himself is Sicilian — but there are a few more hints the restaurant pays homage to Syracuse than the name and a few decorations.

The menu’s deluxe pizza is called “The Cuse,” which Cappotto said some of his customers unknowingly mispronounce, and the restaurant’s wings are called “Syracuse Wings.”

Customers are a mix of regulars, some of whom have a Syracuse connection, he said. They’ve either grown up in Syracuse or the surrounding area, or they went to Syracuse University.

But Cappotto didn’t attend SU. He went to St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y. He moved out of Syracuse 20 years ago, spending 10 years in South Florida before moving to Atlanta in 2003.

Standing next to him in a blue SU sweatshirt, Cappotto’s son, Dylan, 8, boasted about going to his first SU basketball game at six months old. He knows the names of every player on the basketball team. Dylan then said he wants to go to SU, only to be told by his father he needs to win a scholarship.

“I’m really good at basketball,” Dylan said.

“Not at Syracuse,” Cappotto said. “Maybe you could play for Michigan, but you couldn’t play for a team like Syracuse.”

The Orange plays Michigan on Saturday in its national semifinal matchup.

Siracusa’s isn’t planning to hold any special events for the Orange’s Final Four matchup, Cappotto said, but he has about 20 friends coming into Atlanta from all over the country.

They’re renting a 32-passenger bus and plan to tailgate before going down to the Georgia Dome in the afternoon, Cappotto said.

“We’re hoping we’re going to do something similar Monday, too,” he said, referring to when the NCAA Tournament championship game will be played. “Hopefully, Syracuse will cooperate.”

He said he feels good about the Orange’s chances, especially after the 2003 national championship. Cappotto said he couldn’t imagine Syracuse winning it all before, but now feels more confident about the team.

In terms of business, he said Siracusa’s might see some increase in interest, at least in the short-term.

But that doesn’t seem like what he’s thinking about the most.

“If we get some more business out of it — great,” Cappotto said. “We really just want Syracuse to win, and we’re just psyched that it’s here in our town.”

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