Gabriella Ottaiano‘s pizza business in northern New Jersey “took off” after Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy’s pizza review, she said Wednesday, thanking him for changing her life following the devastating fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Ottaiano noted the day after Portnoy came through Calabria Restaurant and Pizzeria in January for the 1,000th review of his famed Barstool Pizza Review, the pizza shop “hit 645 orders.”
“We never saw anything like that before,” Ottaiano said.
She said after Portnoy rated the pizza with a score of 8.9, there has been a three-hour wait for pizza. Portnoy is “the real deal” and “like God,” she said.
Ottaiano told Fox Business earlier this week that she is getting customers from as far away as California and India.
Portnoy, who visited the restaurant on Jan. 15, appeared with Gabriella and her uncle, restaurant manager Giuseppe Ottaiano, on “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday. Portnoy said a good score from him “means something” because he sometimes gives bad ones.
“If I give a big score, it changes how that pizza [shop] operates to the point [where] some locals sometimes get mad because [they’re] little hidden gems that you can no longer just waltz in,” he said.
He called an 8.9 a “monster score,” adding he “loved the pizza.”
As to how he came up with the idea to review pizza, Portnoy told host Brian Kilmeade that he was eating pizza for a month and “just started scoring them” and it “just kind of caught on.”
Last year, Calabria Restaurant and Pizzeria celebrated its 40-year anniversary.
Ottaiano added the review was better than a loan, considering before Portnoy’s visit the business didn’t even know if its state taxes could be paid.
She said getting to see the smile on her dad and uncle’s faces “was the best 40th anniversary we could ever ask for.”
“We will never forget what you did for us,” Ottaiano told Portnoy.
Portnoy isn’t a stranger to giving back.
He has been supporting small businesses impacted by coronavirus-related restrictions through The Barstool Fund since December.
As of Wednesday morning, “The Barstool Fund” has raised more than $36.3 million from nearly 221,700 supporters for 315 small businesses struggling during the pandemic.
Some famous names who have contributed to the fund include Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
The fund pledges one-year commitments to supporting small businesses with rent or tax payments during the pandemic so long as they continue to pay their employees.
To qualify, businesses need to keep an active payroll. The Barstool Fund will help the small businesses that are chosen pay off whatever costs they have to stay afloat until the pandemic is over.
Fox News’ Frank Miles contributed to this report.