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Meet the two brothers behind this new Citrus Heights pizzeria

Brothers Nick and Steven Castangia stand in front of their newly opened restaurant, 916 Pizza, in Citrus Heights. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
Opening a pizzeria is the culmination of a culinary dream for brothers Nick and Steven Castangia, who have brought a flavor of their Italian heritage to Citrus Heights.

Nick Castangia told The Sentinel in an Aug. 2 interview that he opened 916 Pizza with his brother. The business is in the suite formerly occupied by the similarly named “701 Pizza,” at 6916 Sunrise Blvd. and has been operating for about four months, he said. Although 916 Pizza uses some of the same equipment from the former pizzeria, Castangia says the recipes and ownership are all new.

Castangia said he and his brother are following in the footsteps of their father who works as a chef in San Francisco. Castangia said he grew up in the restaurant industry and started as a bus boy working for his father. The 916 Pizza restaurant is his first business, he said.

“Growing up, seeing him be a chef was kind of something we always looked up to on holidays,” Castangia said. “He was always the one cooking, bringing everyone together. Everybody wanted to come to our house because of the food he was cooking. I think growing up we just realized that food was kind of what brought our family together.”

Most of the family is in Castangia’s home country of Italy, he said, and the recipes for 916 Pizza are “100 percent” Italian. The brothers are from the island of Sardinia where they learned how to cook.

“Down to the sauce and everything we do is basically how our dad taught us to cook,” he said. “Everything there is about purity, simple ingredients, fresh ingredients. And that’s how we learn how to cook everything. So that’s kind of what we brought here with us.”

After starting in the industry at age 19, Castangia said he has spent time as a bus boy, server, food waiter, and bartender. Despite an uncertain economy, Castangia said it was the right time for him to open 916 Pizza.

“I’m definitely proud of when we got here,” he said. “It was it wasn’t easy getting it, especially with the way the economy is going right now. I see more businesses closing down than opening up. So our timing wasn’t perfect, but it never really is in life anyway.”

The name for the business is an effort to represent the area where Castangia said he and his family are starting over.

“Sacramento, being my brother and I’s new home where we basically wanted to restart our life, we wanted to represent the area we now call home,” he said. “So we called it 916 Pizza.”

“We’re just glad to help bring some of the culinary stuff our dad taught us. We’ve got a recipe that goes all the way back to his mom and our grandparents in Sardinia from an island that most people will never be able to taste in their life.”

The restaurant currently offers traditional pizza options such as combination, pepperoni, and Hawaiian, but Castangia said they are adding new menu options in the near future.

“The cooking style is basically everything we do here,” he said. “And as we expand the menu we’re slowly introducing new items, we just added cannelloni to the menu today. We’re going to start doing lasagnas and everything from desserts like tiramisu in the future; having some kind of cookies and pastries that they do in Sardinia. We’re excited to bring it all.”

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