Brian Nittayo is the founder of Rose City Pizza in Rosemead and most recently, Covina.
Brian graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. While still in school, he worked in a variety of restaurants from a sushi place to Outback Steakhouse and first experienced a love for serving and meeting people. After graduating, he gained experience as a front desk agent at the Ritz Carlton Hotel where he learned valuable customer service skills. His father was retired and “itching to get back into business,” in the early 2000s so they opened their first Cold Stone Creamery location in San Dimas. For the next 7 years they opened and operated Cold Stone Creamery franchises. During that time, they felt a strong desire to open a restaurant which would allow them the freedom to create a concept and menu. In 2009, they opened Rose City Pizza, only three doors down from one of their original Cold Stone Creamery locations in Rosemead.
On a whim, Brian's Dad and he decided to go to the Pizza Expo held once a year in Las Vegas. While there, they heard about Tony Gemignani and his pizza classes. Brian became one of his first students and graduated from the program in North Beach, San Francisco- a satellite of the main campus located in Italy. Though he was now certified, Brian felt that he was not ready to start his pizzeria until he apprenticed with Tony's friend Bruno, who owned multiple pizzerias in New York. Over the summer Brian learned to make true authentic New York style pizzas.
While Rose City is a well known and loved establishment now, this was not always the case. The first few years of business were slow, and when customers did come in they would tell him that he should have opened in Los Angeles to charge more or get more attention from foodies. Brian knew that people generally gravitated towards traditional pizzerias with their wood fired ovens and heirloom recipes. Brian had to think out of the box and create something new. And he did exactly that. Rose City produces pizzas unlike any other with flavors like Elote, Al Pastor, Birria, Char Siu, and Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken Pizza. Brian draws his inspiration from the diverse group of cooks and staff he works with. Most of the time new pizza creations are created by them talking about what they are craving. They have had great success with their fusion pizzas. Rose City Pizza is more of a modern pizza concept with roots in traditional Italian and New York style pizza preparation.
Despite what people said about opening in the SGV, Brian could not be happier to be in the area, because according to Brian, “The SGV is a destination for authentic Asian, Mexican, and innovative food creations. The community means everything to me.” Operating Rose City during the pandemic has been the most challenging obstacle Brian has encountered thus far, and he is extremely grateful to all the community members who have kept his business afloat. In addition to receiving love and support from customers, Brian also does his part to give back to the community through hosting fundraisers and donations and hosting monthly art shows to support local artists. Brian has now opened his second location in Covina.
My SGV Podcast: