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Russian Owner, Italian Menu, American Dream

SCRANTON — A Russian immigrant who now lives in Scranton never expected he’d open up his own restaurant, especially one that serves food that he never had back home.

But, he adapted his pizza recipe to suit his palate and hopefully many others.

The place on the corner of Pittston Avenue and Fig Street in Scranton has been a lot of businesses. But, it was empty longer than most memories around here go.

Passers-by were surprised to see new life here.

About as long as the building’s been empty, Joe Pinkhasov dreamed one day he would fill it. That dream became reality last week when he opened Nina’s Five Star Veggie Pizza.

Pinkhasov is not native to Scranton, or really native to pizza. He immigrated from Russia, a place where he says they hardly eat pizza at all.

“I had a dream, I had my dream to open up some business to support the family,” Pinkhasov said.

After learning the ropes from pizza shop owners in New York City and here in Scranton. He spent more than a decade saving up for Nina’s. The shop is named after his mother.

Pinkhasov wanted to avoid being just another pizza place in Scranton. So he combined the pizza recipe he learned when he first immigrated to New York City, with the way he used to eat back home in Russia.

Pinkhasov is Jewish and keeps kosher. At first, he said it was tough to adjust to our meat-heavy pizza-focused NEPA diet. He started making vegetarian pizza so he could stay kosher, and apparently, other pizza-lovers were calling for it too.

“There are some people coming over they say they’re vegetarians and it’s hard to find a good place to eat,” said Joe’s son Val Pinkhasov.

“A lot of people are going vegan and they’re looking for different options other than meat, and there’s definitely I’m sure people who would like that,” added Jeanine Cleary of Waverly Township.

Whether you eat vegetarian, vegan, kosher, or any other way, pizza can be a part of any diet. As long as you’re willing to come to the table.

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