Pietro’s feeds Houseless Camp with new oven

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    D’Lissa and Pastor Tom Iannucci, and Il Yum prepare pizza, Tuesday at the houseless community at the Salt Pond Park.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Pastor Tom Iannucci prepares to load a fresh pizza, Tuesday when his family prepared pizza for the houseless community at the Salt Pond Park.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Ui Kanahele is pleased with her pizza, Tuesday as Pastor Tom Iannucci preps another and Il Yum feeds the trailer-able oven at the Salt Pond Park.

HANAPEPE — The mobile brick oven was tested under fire, Tuesday when the Iannucci ‘ohana of Pietro’s Pizza Kaua‘i fired up the oven to feed the houseless community at the Salt Pond Beach Park.

“I know them,” Pastor Tom said. “I come here daily for exercise, and I got to know them.”

But the thought of feeding the community of between 35 to 40 people was a lot easier said than done as the Pietro’s ‘ohana battled between the incessant trade winds blowing off the Kalaheo plateau, flies, and the blistering heat from the new oven.

“It’s been sitting at my house since February,” Pastor Tom said. “I took out a loan to get it from a guy in Honolulu who was preparing to move back to Seattle, Washington. I thought about this and all the requests for us to appear at events like the Taste of Hawai‘i, the Flavors, and how we couldn’t do it without an oven. The economy was buzzing, and I knew there was one out there.”

Then, the pandemic struck Hawai‘i.

“The oven has just been sitting at home,” Pastor Tom said. “Everything was closed. We couldn’t do anything. We only got the necessary paperwork done once things started opening, again. I only fired it up once at home. This is the first time we’re using it.”

Creating a makeshift kitchen in the parking lot, the pizza drew a crowd as the Iannucci ‘ohana got help from some of the Pietro’s pizza makers and even the Salt Pond campers as the orders began to grow.

“This is so hard,” Pastor Tom said. “The wind is so strong, I couldn’t get the oven to light until one of the bruddas brought over a leaf blower. The wind is blowing so the flour won’t stay, and pretty soon we’re going to have flying pizza.”

But everything was put under control and the pizza and cold drink flowed off the tables in the parking lot.

“This is a blessing,” said a mother waiting on her order.

“Pizza and Jesus,” Pastor Tom said. “They’ve been bringing people together for hundreds of years.”

D’Lissa said the Tuesday afternoon feeding was made possible by two families who donated funds to get the supplies needed for the made-to-order pizza pies.

Pastor Tom said eventually he wants to take the mobile oven out into the community, the fire stations, the police department.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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