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@Work: Napoleon Pizza


June 29, 2005 — It's new and tastefully decorated, and the smell of fresh-baked pizza pies calls you inside to try a slice. Napoleon Pizza, located on Hill Street in Frederiksted, just opened a week ago and is already becoming a favorite eatery in the town.
Less than a month ago, the establishment was a little more than a hole in the wall, with renovations going on around the clock. Owner Osvaldo "Polo" Gittens said the eatery is the perfect fit for the town, which according to him, is about to experience a major revival.
Gittens is confident that the town's economic success, which was shattered when hurricane Hugo barreled through in 1989, will begin again once the waterfront revitalization project is completed later this year.
Gittens said he and his crew, Victor Cruz and Apolinar Acevedo, are taking their time to get things right in the pizza parlor. Art deco aluminum chairs are stacked in the corner. "The tables are coming soon," Gittens said. Right now the store just offers veggie, pepperoni and cheese pizza, salads, chicken wings and fries.
Gittens said an expanded menu is coming soon. Their specialty pizzas, topped with conch, lobster or crab are not served every day, but Gittens said when they are offered, "cars are circling around the block."
"The sauce keeps the customers coming back," he said, flashing his signature smile. The pies are cooked in a brick oven and cost from $2.50 for regular slices to $4.25 for the specialty slices.
Anyone who knows Gittens would agree that he is a down-to-earth, positive-thinking guy who is quick with a smile and a funny one-liner. He is a native Crucian who grew up in Hannah's Rest, right outside Frederiksted town, and he still lives there. His father is retired police Sgt. Leopold Gittens. The name of the business is sort of a tribute to his father, whose nickname is Napoleon. Decades ago, Crucians shortened the nickname to "Polo," a moniker all the younger Gittens answer to as well.
Osvaldo Gittens has invested heavily in Frederiksted; the pizza parlor is his third business in the town. Three years ago he left his job as a process operator at Hovensa and opened Alliance Clothing on King Street, a hip-hop fashion store with a New York designer feel. Soon afterwards, he opened Alliance Kids in the Frederiksted mall.
He said he got into the pizza business when he went to a convention in Ohio, where he learned the ins and outs of the business. "We just needed it," Gittens said of the pizza parlor. "This is our town. Frederiksted is the place to invest; what it was before, it will be again."
Napoleon Pizza is open from noon to 10 p.m. every day of the week, except Saturdays, when they're open from noon until midnight. Delivery service is coming soon. You can call ahead for pick-up at 719-9955.
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