Make us your home page
La Pizza Mia Pizzeria

Glass craftsman with a food passion

By the time the economy had declined last fall, orders for Carlo Conti's high-end art glass doors had already dried up.

With three children, Conti, 49, and his wife Marilena, 46, decided it was time to switch to a business that could survive the bad times ahead.

It was an easy decision.

The Contis are Italian. Their families are originally from Abruzzi, about 50 miles east of Rome.

Carlo Conti grew up in the food business. Cooking is his passion.

"It's what I know," he said.

In June, the Clearwater couple opened La Pizza Mia Pizzeria in the West Bay Plaza in Largo.

The menu includes everything from pasta dishes, calzone, stromboli, wraps, hot and cold subs, salads, soups, desserts and pizza, all made fresh each day. Wine is served in the traditional Italian way — in table glasses, not wine glasses.

Customers can ask for dishes not on the menu. For that reason, Conti said, "The menu is endless."

He uses recipes handed down for generations from both families.

Diners can eat outside in an enclosed gallery featuring walls covered with capricious food-related paintings. Or they can eat inside in a cozy setting with booths and tables.

Stained glass signs designed by Conti hang over the windows and the restaurant's striking beveled lead glass doors are also his work.

The Contis came here in 1980 with their families from Toronto. They had met briefly in Canada, but romance bloomed after moving here and they married in 1988.

What investment did it take to open the doors?

Carlo: We completely gutted the place. It was like a dungeon. With renovations, equipment and inventory, the cost to open the business was $125,000.

What do you enjoy most about this business?

Carlo: Every day is different and offers a new challenge.

Marilena: That somehow we managed to create a real feeling of home, an ambience comfortable for all ages.

How is the business doing?

Carlo: It's been steady. A lot of our business is word of mouth. Most of our customers are from the neighborhood and we get vacationers. Business is better than we ever expected.

Chris Cosdon can be reached at

La Pizza Mia Pizzeria

Where: 118 West Bay Drive, Largo.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday.

Phone: (727) 586-7662.

Glass craftsman with a food passion 11/08/08 [Last modified: Sunday, November 9, 2008 11:25am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. A sports rout on Wall Street


    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  3. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24


    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  4. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters


    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  5. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights


    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.


    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]