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Parma John's: A Decade of Deliciousness

Owner John Scarpanito prides pizzeria on ingredients and consistency

Parma John's Italian Family has been serving hungry patrons for just over a decade, which would seem to indicate that the folks there are doing something right.

Specializing in pizza and classic Italian dishes, Parma offers a relaxed dining experience with a great menu at affordable prices. It delivers and caters events.

Owner and manager John Scarpanito started Parma John's in April 1999. Working in the restaurant business was something he did as a kid and ultimately came back to.

"I started because I wanted to make money," Scarpanito said. "But I really came to love this."

The modest Italian restaurant occupies two dining rooms, big enough not to be cramped, but not so big that you have to shout to be heard, giving it a nice homey feel. This neighborly quality is one of the things Scarpanito strives for.

"One of the best parts of the community is how it's like a big family," Scarpanito said. "Everybody knows everybody and everybody is friendly. I know my customers by name. I know what's going on in a lot of their lives."

Having this type of relationship with his clients and the community is really important to Scarpanito. Parma John's sponsors the Hopatcong football and wrestling teams. It offers discounts for sports teams' parties and makes frequent donations to local churches, beach clubs and the Civic Center.

While the main menu is pretty constant, Parma's has weekly specials perfect for those looking to change things up a bit. Popular dishes include chicken parmigiana, homemade lasagna, cold antipasto, Cluck-U-Wings and tenders featuring six different sauces and pizza, of course. Pepperoni is the most commonly ordered topping, but Scarpanito and his staff have made all kinds of pies, from the basic cheese pie to shrimp scampi pie and just about everything in between.

Always wanting to please the customer and up for any challenge, Scarpanito said, "If you can dream it up, we'll make it."

Parma John's also offers dessert in the form of a full-service ice cream parlor, open from April 1 to Nov. 1. The ice cream parlor has 12 flavors of hard hand-dipped ice cream, soft frozen custard in vanilla, chocolate, and twist, a variety of toppings for sundaes and any flavor ice cream can be made into a delicious shake. Parma's also makes ice cream cakes and ice cream sandwiches.

The secret to Scarpanito's success is simple.

Scarpanito follows three easy rules: make everything fresh to order, only use fresh high-quality ingredients, and be consistent. Everything from the homemade sauce to the original pizza dough recipe is prepared the same way every time to ensure his patrons are happy with his product.

"We just always try to do our best and satisfy every customer every time," Scarpanito said.

Here's a Q&A with Scarpanito:

What's the best part of this community? The people. I like the (family) atmosphere, the personal one-on-one connections I have with my customers.

Why has being located on Lakeside Boulevard been a plus? It's a double-edged sword; it's nice being centrally located but its hard with the parking. Fortunately, we deliver!

Favorite Parma dish? Everything's great but my personal favorite is penne and pink vodka sauce with chicken.

What are some of Parma's goals? Our main goal is to consistently serve a high-quality product and satisfy any customer that walks through the door. It's been difficult during the recession; it's tempting to use cheaper, lower quality products to save a couple of bucks. But it's not worth losing my customers. Even though our profit margin keeps on dropping I haven't raised prices in the last two years. If we hold on long enough we'll make it through. 

Cristina August 31, 2011 at 07:49 PM
Parma John's dirty I have been eating in at PJ for a while, My husband and I moved to Hopatcong 1 year ago and were told by our neighbors that PJ was good Pizza. I agree the Pizza is good but I will not go there any more. On a summer night we went for dinner and when we walked in we noticed it was hot in the dining area, we inquired asking if the A/C was broken but the girl at the counter said no that's because the owner does not put on the A/C. We decided to stay but that was not a good choice because we where very uncomfortable during our meal. During our meal I was sitting facing the kitchen and noticed the back room was making pizza dough, I saw employees not forming dough and notice a few employees walk in back to help but did not even wash there hands. I also notice the fellow who was the delivery man come in from a delivery and also helped but did not wash his hands. Also I witnessed the empolyees sweating from the heat and dripping in the dough and wiping the sweat from there heads and then not washing there hands and touching the dough. During dinner we were served dinner with plates that looked like they were 50 years old scratched and dirty. The final straw was watching the man who I assume is Parma John because all called him John, smoking a cigarette and then making a pizza without washing his hands. there was another slim fellow making pizza with long hair and and no hat, although later he did put a hat on. but I guess the heat in the place was to much.
Cristina August 31, 2011 at 07:57 PM
Part 2 PJ Pizza. While at times I would say some of these incidents may have been isolated, there is no excuse for the A/C not being on in an eating establishment, especially since the employees are sweating into the food, Which by the way kudos for the owner for hiring young local workers, but they seemed not trained in the sanitation rules as I noticed a number of other violations from the younger employees ranging from not wearing gloves and touching food to one worker female worker contantly pulling up here pants and touching money then handling pizza slices out of the oven. I do say that I have tried other pizzas in town and PJ is the best, but I will not risk getting sick from there unsanitary food. I agree that the pizza oven may kill some germs but now knowing what I saw with my own eyes I will choose to find another alternative to pizza in Hopatcong.
Jersey Jim September 15, 2011 at 07:32 PM
Hey marie , the night I was went into PJ's I noticed the cashier was named NOEL, might tis be the phantom NOEY, who did such a good job at advertising your place, but you as a worker claim she does not work there????????????? Let the real public decide about your dirty place and do not let your workers do excuse the pun your dirty work.......

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