The Rocco's Story
Rocco's Pizza is named after Rocco Palazzolo. Rocco is from a town in Sicily by the name of Cinisi. He came to the United States in 1968 with money his father raised by selling a cow! Rocco landed in New Jersey and met a fellow countryman named Nicola. Together they opened a pizza shop in Trenton, New Jersey in 1969 selling Tomato Pies. With his first profits, Rocco paid back his father for the cow. Rocco eventually bought out his friend and opened a second shop. Both shops are still open today. Rocco eventually got homesick and returned to Sicily until 1979. When he and his family returned to the United States, they settled in a town called Hatteras, located in North Carolina. Rocco's children Sal, John and Erina started working at the shop when they were only five or six. Rocco's Pizza was definitely a family business now.
They learned the business from the ground up; learning that quality and freshness were just as important as taste and appearance. Rocco's son John followed in the family business by opening his own pizza shop when he was 25 in Grandy, North Carolina. By this time Rocco was semi-retired and watching his children succeed. Over the next few years, the whole family, Rocco and his wife Theresa, John and his wife Vicey and their children (Theresa and Rocco) along with older brother Sal and his wife Melissa moved to the Ozarks. John talks about falling in love with the areas beauty, then how nice the people are and he decided this would be a great place to raise his kids. So they found a building in Republic that he and brother-in-law Travis spent five to six months renovating and began to introduce the Ozarks to Rocco's Pizza!
Has authentic New York Style Pizza been a success in the Ozarks? You could say that. Rocco's Pizza has participated and won peoples Choice as best pizza at the Greater Ozarks Literacy Council's annual Pizza Bowl two years in a row! Rocco's competes against many national and local pizza shops in the Pizza Bowl, all for a great cause. There is always a long line at the Rocco's Pizza table during this event. John started getting a lot of questions about franchising Roccos. Finally John gave in and Rocco's Pizza now has four locations in Southwest Missouri with more to come.
In November 2013, Dan (a 22 year computer programmer) and Jennifer (a 12 year paralegal and professional photographer), decided to venture out and carry on the success of Rocco's of Nixa and purchased it from John.