Angelo Marrone dusts his brown, stocky fingers with flour, takes a dough and stretches it to be thin in the middle and thicker on the crust. The dough, interspersed with generous slices of tomatoes, mozzarella cheeses and basils, makes its final stop in an 800 F oven.
Before long, the smell begins to disperse. Three televisions, all tuned into sports channels, hum in the background. When people walk in, Marrone greets them with a big smile in his thick Italian accent,
“Hey buddy, how are you doing?”
On the past Monday, Italian Pizzeria III celebrated its 43rd anniversary. During the event, Angelo Marrone and his brother Vincenzo Marrone, the third generation running the pizzeria on West Franklin Street, announced that they added a slogan to their delivery boxes that read, “IP3 is the place to be!!”
That’s what the Marrone brothers believe in. 27 years ago, they came to the U.S. as a family; now, they build a home for all. “I love Tar Heel community; I love to have any kind of people that walk into this place,” Marrone said.​​​​​​​
Angelo Marrone (left) and his brother Vincenzo Marrone in their store Italian Pizzeria III. They are the third generation running the 43-year-old pizzeria on 508 W. Franklin St.
Image courtesy of Chapel Hill Magazine
 In 1996, 24-year-old Angelo Marrone and 17-year-old Vincenzo Marrone came from Italy to take over the pizzeria from their uncle and aunt, who were about to retire to their old home in Melegnano, Italy.
The brothers revamped the pizzeria’s ac-cent wall and added some 30 items to the old, modest menu of less than a dozen pizzas. The pizzeria now offers pizzas, cheesesteaks, lasagnas, paninis and Strombolis, with Pizza Margherita featured at the top of its menu.
“We do from scratch everything,” Angelo Marrone said. “We make home dough, we make home sauce, anything.”
The brothers pride themselves on their top-quality ingredients like double zero flour, filtered water, freshly made doughs and sauces and its skilled staff of 12 whose experiences range from six to 15 years. They are the secret to IP3’s great pizza, Angelo Marrone said.
Hugo Romero, an employee at IP3, said the amazing crews, who laugh and tell jokes all the time, were making the pizzeria his second home.
“I sometimes enjoy the days – spend more time at work – than I do at home,” he said.
After IP3 becomes one of the few pizzerias who have survived the pandemic, Angelo Marrone posts a “Death knocking on doors” meme on IP3’s Facebook page, in which the death has claimed Toppers Pizza, MidiCi Italian Kitchen and LOTSA Stone Fired Pizza and is heading for “Every future ill-rated trendy pizza place at the corner of Franklin and Columbia.”
Sports help IP3 stand out. About a mile from the heart of UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus, the pizzeria is a hangout for Tar Heels, the UNC Men’s Basketball team.
As early as 2005, many Tar Heels stars like Marcus Ginyard and Tyler Hansbrough frequented IP3 and befriended the Marrone brothers. Out of their camaraderie, the Marrone brothers started to bring pizzas to post-game meals, and the team sometimes gathered in the pizzeria, hanging out.
“Now everybody come to this place, and they give us a lot of business,” Angelo Marrone said. “And I appreciate it. I remember every single man to my life.”
Over the years, IP3 has built a wall of fame
for the Tar Heels. Photos, arranged casually, capture the milestone moments, document the team winning the 2009 and 2017 national championships and honor Hubert Davis, the current Tar Heels coach and alumnus who led the team into the NCAA Final Four in 1991.
The already crammed wall also hosts some autographed jerseys and athletic posters from both the Tar Heels and Juventus F.C., the Italian soccer club that has won 36 titles from Italian Series A and two from the UEFA Championships League. From 2006 to 2013, IP3 was named by INDY Week as the “Best Place to Watch International Soccer.”
Angelo Marrone said he’s been a lifelong basketball and soccer fan. Back in Italy, he played both of them from a very young age. The balls made him some friends who he is still in touch with. He said he is proud that Italy, a small country with a population under 60 million, has won the World Cup four times.
“When I moved here and saw UNC basketball, I found Michael Jordan went to school here,” Angelo Marrone said. “I went crazy.”
In the pizzeria whose logo depicts Italy shaking hands with the U.S., Angelo Marrone weaves a nest for his childhood aspiration of being a sportsperson. LocalWiki Raleigh, a project curating local knowledge, wrote in an overview that,
“On any night of the week, you can find college students eating alongside little league baseball teams and sports fanatics of all ages.”
Vincenzo Marrone believed his brother deserved love and respect. Since their father passed away 22 years ago, Angelo Marrone had always been there for him when he needed something. They never fell out, the brothers said.
“Come in the United States on the same time; it makes our relationship stronger,” Vincenzo Marrone added.
The pizzeria, Angelo Marrone said, has made them a part of The American Dream. As co-owners of the pizzeria, the Marrone bro-thers both bought their two-story houses in Durham. On his trip to Panama, Angelo Marrone met the woman who later became his wife. Now, with two kids going to school in Chapel Hill, Angelo Marrone said he plan to stay in the U.S. for the rest of his life.
“One day when I retire,” he said. “I want to spend time with them here to chill out. Watch soccer games, (or) basketball.” 
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