Pasquale's is for sale

pasquales exterior

The two-time Tournament of Pizza champ.

Pasquale's -- two-time overall champ in the Tournament of Pizza -- is for sale.

We had a feeling the Albany restaurant was available after seeing a Craigslist posting earlier this month. And this week, Pasquale's owner Viktoria Gelag confirmed it.

pasquales viktoria gelagFunny thing about Viktoria: "I'm not a pizza eater. If I eat it, I want it to be good."

Gelag says after almost 7.5 years of running the restaurant, she needs a break. And a plan to push the business toward more of a trattoria style hasn't worked out as she had hoped. "I like to cook [by] myself," she adds, and the place is too big for that. "I need a quarter of this place."

Not helping matters is the Domino's franchise that opened just across the side street from her along New Scotland Ave this past year. Gelag says she can't compete on price with the chain -- it doesn't sound like she'd want to.

"I do things the hard way," she says. "I make the sauce everyday -- it's a pain in the butt. I use expensive cheese, expensive tomatoes. I grind my own pepper with a pepper mill. What pizzeria does that? Who's that crazy?"

And yet the neighborhood seems drawn to the cheaper option across the street. She says she tasted Domino's pizza for the first time yesterday. "It was terrible."

"I don't want to make quantity pizza," Gelag says. "I want quality."

pasquales and dominos

Pasquale's was the overall winner of the Tournament of Pizza in 2008 and 2009, and a semi-finalist in 2010. The judges have raved about Gelag's pizza over those three competitions, calling her sauce "vibrant" and "delightful," praising the crunch of the crust, and describing the pies as "a juggernaut." Commented one judge in 2008 of Pasquale's entry in the finals: "F*** yeah -- so good."

Gelag comes from a family with serious pizza-making skill. Her brother John is the Pizza King of Schenectady. And she says another brother, Pasquale (after whom the restaurant is named), makes excellent pizza. She says a cousin in New York City also operated a successful pizza shop.

"I think it's because we're Montenegrin," she says. "We eat a lot of bread there. We understand food, we grew up making everything from scratch."

Gelag says she came to the United States at age 17. She worked as a model at conventions in New York City, and tended bar in nightclubs. It sounds like she had fun. "I was young, are you kidding!" She moved to the Capital Region 10 years ago, and opened Pasquale's a few years later.

pasquales exterior closeup

Now she's looking for a change. She says she wants to take a few months off. After that, maybe she'll find a new place with just three or four tables.

She says she'll miss her customers, many of whom she now knows. "It's sad. I feel like I betrayed them."

Gelag says she's asking $100,000 for Pasquale's -- that includes the name, all the equipment, and the remaining three years on her lease. She says she'll work with the new owner for a month to help them with the pizza.

Until then, the restaurant is still open. We're looking forward to stopping in for a sausage pizza.

Find It

261 New Scotland
Albany, NY 12208


Oh nooooo! Nooo! I've been so afraid of this happening! We order from Viktoria usually about twice a week. I hope she takes some time off and opens something small not too far away, oh dear!

My kids are going to cry when I tell them...
Three or four tables? How could that work? Take-out?
Please think it over...

Everything on the menu at Pasquale's is wonderful! V is a fabulous chef! Tonight I had the Creamy Spinach Pizza - not on the menu - heard someone else order it last time I was there and had to try it - yummy! One of my favorites is the bruscotta pizza. Hope this restaurant stays or at least keeps my favorite pizzas! Really a special place!

Really too bad, my favorite pizza place in Albany.

We love Viktoria and Pasquales! We live nearby and drop by frequently. I am very sad to learn this.

Damn . . . that's really disappointing news . . . Pasquale's makes one of the best - if not THE best - pizzas in the area and it's closing will be real loss to the neighborhood. Pasquale's and Viktoria will be sorely missed.

I really hope whoever buys the place really tries to master Viktoria's way of making pizza, and then is disciplined enough to maintain high standards.

Recently I've found myself out in Schenectady and spending more time at her brother's joint. But this news has me reflecting on the wisdom of that decision.

I'll need to get in there soon before Pasquale's changes hands. Just to get a bit more of that truly special pizza which at its best is absolutely more than the sum of its parts.

Really glad they put domino's in there. It's much nicer than the florist that beautifully renovated the inside of the shop. The neon signs in the window are especially pleasing as are the delivery cars whipping through the neighborhood at all hours and the deliverymen standing around smoking all the time.

Long live Pasquale's; friendliest, most down to earth owner/chef in the area & although it took a bit longer for a meal there, it was always well worth it.

Oh no! :(
Great pizza is so hard to find (and keep). I hope that I will be able to get it in the future.

I am so sad! Pasquale's really is our favorite pizza, and while there are other decent pizzas in the region, no others in the neighborhood. We will miss it!

I have ordered large trays of chicken marsala from Viktoria for my dinner parties, and my guests have raved about how delicious it was. We love her pizzas, and the intimate space she has created in her dining room. This is really a big loss for the neighborhood ! However, my husband and I often comment on the back-breaking work and incredible amount of hours per week that are involved in running Pasquale's , and I must say that I understand Viktoria's decision, and I wish her all the best in her future endeavors... catering, perhaps???

I know Pasquale's had a lot of fans, and I'll admit the pizza was quite good, but the service at this place (whether for dining-in or taking-out) was--I have to say it--atrocious. By "atrocious" I mean that you could easily end up waiting an hour for your food, even if you phoned in well ahead of time and things didn't seem too busy when you got there; and complaints (or simple queries) were in my experience never dealt with gracefully. Perhaps the owner tried to take care of too many details herself; in any case, it always seemed to me like Pasquale's was never going to thrive without a better business plan. I do hope someone buys the place and turns it into a more effective pizza parlor.

Delicious pizza...maybe V can work for someone else with her skills and they can run the biz....
I will miss those yummy pies!!

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