Over the weekend, a spray-painted image of a gooey slice of pepperoni and green pepper pizza appeared on the facade of Roma II Pizza, at 152 Lockwood Avenue. This latest act of defacement is the seventh incident in a string of “pizza graffiti” tags that have appeared in Westchester since April.
The pizza-shaped image is brightly colored in yellow, green, red, and white, and is more artistic than a typical street graffiti tag. But while the image is in line with the pizza theme of the restaurant, it’s still vandalism–and illegal.
Seventh Act of Graffiti in Two Months
This weekend’s appearance of the signature pizza slice graffiti at Roma II marks the seventh time the unidentified vandal targeted and tagged a Westchester pizza restaurant since April. To date, the vandal has targeted:
- Cosimo & Johnny’s Pizzeria, Eastchester
- Villagio Pizzeria, Tuckahoe
- Villagio Pizzeria, Pelham
- 4 Corners Pizzeria, Pelham
- Modern Restaurant & Lounge, New Rochelle
- Pizzeria La Rosa, New Rochelle
Perhaps the most brazen tagging incident was at Villagio Pizzeria, located directly across from the Tuckahoe Police Department.
Mixed Reactions to Vandalism
Despite the graffiti’s bright colors and the vandal’s obvious love of pizza, business owners are concerned about damage to their property–and copycats who may not understand the seriousness of the crime.
Joe DelBalzo, whose 4 Corners Pizzeria in Pelham was targeted in mid-May, liked the artwork. In an interview with News12 Hudson Valley, DelBalzo spoke of the incident. “I initially thought it was pretty interesting, pretty cool,” DelBalzo said. “Maybe he’s a customer who really likes our pizza, so he’s kind of showing his passion for art.” But DelBalzo also recognizes the temptation for copycats–so he is encouraging artists to share their love of pizza by drawing on a chalkboard inside his restaurant.
Other victims of the vandalism are more concerned about the criminal aspect of the pizza tags. When asked by News12 about the graffiti, Villaggio’s owner Tom Nokaj shared his frustration.
“I don’t know. It don’t look good, my friend. Who is this guy? I don’t like it. I reported it to the police.”
John Hughes, owner of Cosimo & Johnny’s, has mixed feelings about the graffiti.
“At first I thought we paid for it,” Hughes said in an interview with News12. “I liked it because, you know, we have a storefront and there’s nothing that really has a pizza fun to it.” But as owner of the business, he’s aware of the impact additional unwanted graffiti could have on his business. So, they had the graffiti removed. Since the graffiti vandalism started on April 28th, Cosimo & Johnny’s is the only one of the seven impacted pizzerias to remove the spray-painted image.
Graffiti vandalism in New York State is a serious offense, with consequences including criminal mischief charges, possible jail time, and monetary fines.