Dominick Brienza, owner of Sal’s Pizza, will be receiving the Commitment of Service Award from The School Sisters of Notre Dame Educational Center for Women at their annual Fall Harvest on Sunday, September 19, from 3 to 6 p.m.
This year, the Fall Harvest will be held at Monsignor Mulz Hall (the St. Thomas the Apostle gymnasium) at 88-04 Jamaica Avenue (use the 88th Street entrance).
“Dominick Brienza attended St. Thomas the Apostle School and is a familiar face in Woodhaven,” Sister Cathy Feeney said in a letter announcing this year’s honors. “His children were taught by the SSND at St. Rita’s in East New York. He holds a special place in his heart for the education that we continue to offer in this neighborhood.
“An entrepreneur extraordinaire, Dominick has fed generations at his deli and most recently at Sal’s Pizza,” the sister added. “Dominick is never outdone in generosity.”
Brienza has been generous to SSNDEC and other groups, organizations and residents over the years. And he is, indeed, a very familiar face in Woodhaven, having done business on Jamaica Avenue for over 50 years.
But his familiarity with Jamaica Avenue goes back even further, to his early childhood when he moved here from Brooklyn at nine years old. He not only went to St. Thomas the Apostle, but also attended PS 97 and as a young man worked as a busboy at Le Cordon Bleu.
Dominick went to Edison High School and then to City College, where he studied to be an engineer. But he was looking for something a little bit more hands-on, so he switched to education with plans of becoming a teacher.
But it was the 70s and New York City was bankrupt and not hiring any more teachers, so Dominick Brienza took a different path, and we’re forever grateful that he did.
He purchased and operated “Dom’s Deli” near the corner of 90th Street and Jamaica Avenue, a fixture in Woodhaven for nearly 19 years.
Eventually, the deli itself grew old and needed a complete renovation, so Brienza gutted it and opened a laundromat, which he ran for the next ten years.
After the laundromat, Brienza was able to put his education degree to use as a social worker for Catholic Charities, specializing in criminal victim assistance for seniors, an experience he found very rewarding.
But Jamaica Avenue came calling again. He bought Sal’s Pizza, which he has owned for the past 15 years.
As for the award being bestowed upon him, Brienza is modest, describing it as “very nice.”
“They are a great organization and they help so many women, so I’m only too happy to help them out in whatever way I can,” he said.
One way he’s helping right now is by selling raffle tickets he keeps with him at all times. If you’re in Sal’s Pizza between now and the 19th, ask Brienza to see the raffle book and he’ll be happy to show you.
In addition to Brienza, SSNDEC will also be honoring Tony Quinn, owner of TNT Industries. Quinn has supported the center both through donating his time as a contractor and as a generous supporter.
Quinn credits his success to the education he received from religious brothers, and wants to do what he can to make sure others receive the same opportunity.
It is supporters like Dominick Brienza and Tony Quinn and all of you out there that enable an organization like SSNDEC to flourish.
But this recognition also gives all of us here in Woodhaven an opportunity to thank Brienza, not only for his generosity, but for being one of the good guys of Woodhaven, going all the way back to 1970.
“It’s so great to see small business owners like Dominick being recognized,” said Raquel Olivares, executive director of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District. “Not only has he been part of the Woodhaven community for many years, but he is also someone that it’s always willing to support others and give back to his community. We need more businesses like Dominick’s on Jamaica Avenue.”
Sal’s Pizza is open seven days a week. The next time you call (718-441-2606) to get dinner delivered, take a moment to congratulate Brienza and thank him for everything he’s done for this community.
And if you’re free on the 19th, stop by the gym on 88th Street and wish everyone well in person. We hope to see you there.