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The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

An Ode to Oliveri’s: Celebrating 15 Years of Business

Oliveri’s Pizzeria

At the heart of our tight-knit Hamilton, N.Y., community lies Oliveri’s Pizzeria, renowned for its wide selection of traditional Italian-American options. Oliveri’s specializes in everything from pizzas and subs to pasta and cannolis, along with their catering and delivery services. This mom-and-pop restaurant is one of the oldest running eateries in the Village of Hamilton, with this year marking 15 years of business for the pizzeria.

Mike Clare, the owner of Oliveri’s Pizzeria, cited the significant influence of the vibrant Italian-American hub that is tied to his hometown of Utica, N.Y., on Oliveri’s menu. By highlighting dishes native to Utica, such as chicken riggies and Utica greens, Oliveri’s pays homage to the Italian-American culture of Central New York.

“My family and I are from Utica, N.Y., and we took over the pizzeria in 2009. Oliveri’s Pizzeria was a turkey business so it was already established in the Hamilton community,” Clare said. “It had a longstanding relationship with the University and on-campus events, catering, lunches [and] visiting teams.”

Open six days a week and distinguished as one of the only businesses that delivered throughout the pandemic, Oliveri’s attributes much of its community support to how they prioritize accessibility. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Oliveri’s offered Colgate students a vital alternative to the limited meals provided during quarantine.

“During quarantine, I don’t think we were ever busier with deliveries,” Clare said. “We did countless deliveries and that was a wild time.”

Clare also stressed the importance of consistency in shaping Oliveri’s identity, focusing on what is tried, true and beloved by customers.

“As a pizzeria rooted in tradition, you have to stay true to who you are. A lot of our mainstay items have stayed popular over the years because of the quality — and the fact that it’s a classic,” Clare said. “That’s what we are good at; that’s what we know and that’s what we’ve done.”

The craving for tradition and familiarity draws many students to Oliveri’s, such as senior Elisabeth Hartke.

“I love the atmosphere,” Hartke said. “There is a very homey and classic Italian-American feel to it. It reminds me of my favorite pizza sub place at home.”

For many of us, food brings us together and helps us create our own traditions. Sophomore Leonardo Chavarry, a member of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity, spoke about how integral Oliveri’s has become in fostering a sense of brotherhood.

“Every Saturday afternoon, my fraternity brothers and I gather to share food from Oliveri’s. It’s become a cherished tradition for us — a time to unwind, bond and enjoy delicious food,” Chavarry said. “The food is consistently excellent, and we all have our favorite dishes that we look forward to. It’s more than just a meal; it’s a time to connect with my brothers and create lasting conversations.” 

In addition to the family-owned, community-centric atmosphere, Oliveri’s expansive menu has something for everyone. Senior Mae Causey urges students to expand outside of their comfort zone, as they might even discover a new favorite.

“A lot of people think that because Oliveri’s is a pizzeria, it’s just a place to get pizza,” Causey said. “But I think the beauty of Oliveri’s lies in the broad range of menu options. I really love their lesser known menu options, like their zucchini fries and cannolis.”

Whether you’re craving a classic vodka parm as a reminder of your hometown or just looking to split a pizza with friends, Oliveri’s attests to the power of familiarity and the timeless joy of shared meals. 

Clare took the fifteen-year anniversary as an opportunity to thank the community for supporting Oliveri’s, particularly throughout the pandemic. 

“The anniversary came and went quietly. Even though it was a milestone, I just wanted to be humble and thankful for surviving the pandemic,” Clare said. “We are just happy to be here celebrating another year and have the support of the community.”

Independently-owned establishments like Oliveri’s Pizzeria are the heart of the Village of Hamilton and form an integral part of the Colgate student experience. It is important to honor the resilience of local enterprises like Oliveri’s and recognize the special place they hold within the community, especially during milestone moments, such as celebrating fifteen years of business.

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