‘Pray For Me and I’ll Be Back’: Joe’s Pizza Temporarily Closed As Lorenzo Colella Attends to Health Issues


Nancy, young Lorenzo, and Joe Colella. Contributed

The popular owner of one of New Canaan’s most beloved pizzerias is asking locals to be patient as he works through health problems that have forced its temporary closing.

Lorenzo of Colella of Joe’s Pizza with a bowl of his stew, made specially for New Canaan’s first responders and road crews during the March 14, 2017 winter storm. Photo published with permission from its owner

Asked what he’d say to the many loyal customers of Joe’s Pizza on Locust Avenue, Lorenzo Colella said, “I just want them to be patient with me and I love them and appreciate all of their support.”

He added, “It’s just hard being away from them, my family and New Canaan.”

Colella spoke from Hartford Hospital, where he’s undergone a battery of tests for the past week following a yet-undiagnosed heart issue that first appeared Aug. 19 and re-emerged last Wednesday, prompting an emergency admission at Hartford following a consultation at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport.

L-R: Mena, Lorenzo, Nancy and Serra Collela on Main Street with their mom, Nancy Collela, in the early 1980s. Contributed

Asked what New Canaanites can do to support him, Colella said, “Just prayers.”

“My wife’s got it down for now, and my mother-in-law,” he said.

Joe’s Pizza has been a New Canaan institution since 1967, opened by Lorenzo’s father, Giuseppe “Joe” Colella—first on East Avenue (currently New Canaan Pizza), then Forest Street (currently Farmers Table) and, since, 1995, at 23 Locust Ave. Joe and his wife, Annunziata “Nancy” Colella, worked at the pizzeria side-by-side while raising four kids.  

A 1995 New Canaan High School graduate, Lorenzo Colella worked there starting in middle school.

Giuseppe “Joe” Colella

“My first memory is bringing a pizza to table when I was 11 years old on Forest Street,” he recalled. “I can still see the table and what seat this guy was in and he said, ‘Oh my God, you’re getting big, how old are you now?’ And I remember telling him, ‘Eleven years old.’ Being up here so far away, I feel alone up here. I really feel so detached.”

Nancy Colella died in December 2016, Joe in May 2018.

Paul Mauk and Lorenzo Colella in the kitchen at Joe’s Pizza, where the older chef has been lending a hand on a volunteer basis. Credit: Michael Dinan

Lorenzo said it’s been difficult at times to find steady and reliable staff at Joe’s Pizza—though he’s had support from a good friend and mentor in Paul Mauk, former chef/owner at Tequila Mockingbird—and that now with high school kids back in school and many summer workers off to college, he plans to remain closed for about four to six weeks while recovering. He said he hopes to be back behind the counter at Joe’s no later than the end of October, in plenty of time to plan for his well-loved Thanksgiving pizza. 

It’s “been kind of rough” in Hartford, he said.

“My parents, they always went to Norwalk Hospital and I feel away from everything, everyone that I love and it’s hard,” he said. “All the New Canaan people, just pray for me and I’ll be back.”

Follow Joe’s Pizza on Facebook or Instagram for updates on Lorenzo as well as reopening. Those wishing to get updated information may also call the pizzeria’s main phone number, 203-966-2226, and the family will try to keep information current.

37 thoughts on “‘Pray For Me and I’ll Be Back’: Joe’s Pizza Temporarily Closed As Lorenzo Colella Attends to Health Issues

  1. We are
    praying for Lorenzo as I have known this family for so many years. Lorenzo has works hard and always has a smile. Our first responders can rely on him during emergencies to be there with hot food for them. We look forward to seeing you back in New Canaan healthy again !
    Chris Wilson
    Louise Simpson

  2. Sending Lorenzo lots of love and prayers for a speedy recovery. He exemplifies all that is good in New Canaan. Always making delicious pizza and other meals and lending a helping hand to first responders. Get well soon, we miss you!

  3. Wishing you a smooth recovery, as you heal. Everyone has your back! Take good care of yourself. Know how many people in New Canaan have you in their prayers.

  4. You got it Joe ! Remember when times get tough….
    Prayers and your purpose can beat any diagnosis – keep your chin up we will all be here for you in spirit and when you return home

    Kerri Heffernan – Curtin

  5. Nothing matters more than your health! Take it slow and when you are ready to reopen, we’ll be there. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

    The Kerchoff Family

  6. It is nice to see all the “well wishes” for Larry. He is an incredibly hard working person. He is also part of the last breed of 1st generation Italian American “pizza guys” who along with his sisters were raised in a tiny pizzeria on Forest st. I was involved with the original Gates, and we would see the kids helping in the pizza shop. At night when it got busy she would put them all in a little storage area with pizza and toys and they would wait for their Mom and Dad to finish working. As he grew older he helped them. As he noted he was working by age 11. So if you do the math at the age of 46 he has been working in a pizzeria for 35 years. Needless to say, like his Dad, he has his ways. But he and his family have been part of the foundation of New Canaan for many years. Always willing to help feed the Police, the Firemen, working with the schools, the Mayfair etc. I am happy to see that I am not alone in hoping Larry is back in front of the oven barking out orders soon.

  7. My dear Lorenzo (previously known in kindergarten at Center School as Larry, my singing assistant chef at Friday’s “cooking class”), you will be back better than ever. I am rooting for your speedy recovery.

  8. Lorenzo: Sorry to learn of your recent health issues – you are family. I remember when your father first came to New Canaan; I remember when your father went to Italy and returned to New Canaan with your mother Nancy; I remember when you and your siblings were born – wonderful memories.

    My very best wishes for a complete recovery.

    You are in my thoughts and prayers,
    Brian VanDerheyden

  9. The Delano family wishes you well. We still remember you feeding us during the famous blackout. Get better soon, the whole town is behind you!

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