For the time being, Park Slopers get to keep eating their version of Joe’s Pizza. Brooklyn federal judge Brian Cogan ruled yesterday that while the lawsuit filed by New York’s top slice joint made several valid points about the poseur’s “confusingly similar” look, the famous pizzeria’s rival didn’t have to change its name, which on signs reads “Joe’s Pizza” plus an “of the Village” — a reference to the original spot’s neighborhood — tacked on in tiny little letters underneath.
The owner of the Brooklyn shop, Victor Zarco, is a 17-year veteran of Greenwich Village’s acclaimed Carmine Street pizzeria, and insists that his name choice is an homage to his former employer. (“Since Joe had become such an important name in my vocabulary,” Zarco writes in his restaurant’s online bio, “I decided to call my business ‘Joe’s Pizza of the Village.’”) The two have coexisted without incident for over a decade, but the original Joe’s legal team asked Zarco to cool the homage-ing after new signs boldly appeared last October with a font and layout that looked unmistakably like his erstwhile employer’s.
Judge Cogan ruled that the name and web URL are fine because they’re generic, but the so-called Joe’s Pizza of the Village has to eighty-six the signage, and banish anything else that could trick the pizza-loving public into seeing an OG Joe’s connection. Now, regarding all of the photos that Zarco has posted of himself next to ex-boss Pino “Joe” Pozzuoli and other famous celebs, most of them actually taken at the old Joe’s, Cogan said that they must get a “prominent disclaimer.”
Zarco’s lawyer says that his client is fine with that, and issued exactly the type of public statement this city has come to expect from its heated pizza wars: “He is happy to compete with them, slice-against-slice. The litigious Pozzuoli family should now let this mozzarella melee be decided in a court of pizza opinion rather than in U.S. District Court.”