City closes Motorino, the ‘Leaning Tower of Pizza’

City closes Motorino, the ‘Leaning Tower of Pizza’
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Motorino Pizza was shut down by the Department of Buildings after inspectors declared that its tilting Graham Avenue building it was unsafe.

A partial “vacate order” at the so-called “Leaning Tower of Pizza” was posted at 4:30 pm on Monday after inspectors concluded that the visible gap between Motorino’s building at Devoe Street and its neighbor had widened to the point of danger.

Chef-owner Mathieu Palombino blamed building owner Rosa Rivera for not maintaining the structure.

“The stupidity of our landlord is a force we were not able to overcome,” Palombino wrote in a note posted on the door, as employees scurried to move equipment. “While this setback is unfortunate, we promise to soon re-open in a new location.”

Patrons looked on in disappointment.

“This is a total bummer,” said regular customer Jamin Warren. “When I moved to the neighborhood, this was one of the first places I found.”

Another passer-by said she always walked by the restaurant wondering when this day would finally come.

“The building’s been leaning forever,” she said, declining to give her name. “I’m in construction and if that was one of my buildings, we would’ve stopped work on it a long time ago. I’m surprised people are still in it.”

Rivera was unavailable for immediate comment.

It was only back in April that Rivera hired an architect to finally stabilize the building, whose rightward tilt was first discovered in 1994. By last September, that gap had increased to nearly a foot — earning Rivera a $10,000 fine.

At the time, architect Harold Weinberg said the repair work — which involved installing new concrete in the foundation — was “routine.”

Calling Motorino “The Leaning Tower of Pizza” is an apparent reference to the freestanding, but askew, bell tower in the Piazza del Duomo in the northern Italian city of Pisa, a structure that was already being called “The Leaning Tower of Pisa” soon after construction began in 1173. There is servicable pizza nearby.

Here's what it looked like back in April.
Photo by Brittany Somerset