Nino's Pizzeria (Photo: Phillip Pantuso)

Nino’s Pizzeria (Photo: Phillip Pantuso)

In April, Nino Camaj told The Local he was planning to bring back his eponymous pizzeria to the corner of St. Marks Place and Avenue A, seven years after selling the original and moving to Florida. Nino’s had been under new ownership, which “ruined everything,” Camaj said. “A lot of people complained.”

Now that it has reopened, we stopped by the joint, which has been renovated to look exactly like the old Nino’s (though, for the moment, its sign is just handwritten construction paper). Camaj said many familiar faces have stopped in during the two weeks that he’s been open. “The old customers have been complimentary,” he said. “Saying, ‘Thanks for coming back.'”

Tompkins Square Park was a hell of a lot different 25 years ago, when Camaj began slinging slices across the street, and he’s noticed the demographic shifts in the East Village. “I get a lot of NYU students now,” he says, “and the park is cleaner. More people help the homeless.”

In a welcome reversal of how these things usually play out, a much loved neighborhood institution is returning to the East Village, rather than being driven out by elevated rents and/or 7-Elevens. “I feel good, very good about being back,” Camaj says. “Business is picking up every day, and that’s with no sign and no delivery.”