A new restaurant set to offer slices of New York-style pizzas with “real” ingredients, as owner Kevin Allen says, is under construction on Bolivar’s downtown square.
Rocco’s Pizza — located at 213 S. Main Ave., where the Nifty Cafe and most recently Naomi’s cafe once were — has roots from the original Rocco’s Pizza, which was founded in Trenton, New Jersey, in 1958, Allen said.
Since then, Rocco’s has expanded to several locations in Missouri — Republic, Ozark, Nixa, Springfield, Branson, Marionville and Monett.
“It’s been around a while,” Allen said. “And it’s the same recipe.”
Rocco’s New York-style pizza — a type of pizza characterized by large, hand-tossed thin crust dough — comes from the Rocco family’s Sicilian roots, Allen said, noting “the crust is a water crust with Sicilian flour.”
Something that makes Rocco’s Pizza stand out is real ingredients, he said.
“The sausage — depending on the volume — we’ll cook two or three times a week,” he said.
He said the menu’s subs are “very authentic” and the bread comes straight from Brooklyn, New York.
And, he already has pizza restaurant-owning experience on his resume.
Allen, who lives in Aldrich, said he used to own the Rocco’s Pizza in Republic, and around 12 years ago, he started the same restaurant in Marionville.
But after his wife was diagnosed with an illness eight years ago, “I just lost interest,” he said, explaining he then took a union job to secure health insurance.
Around three months ago, after leaving his job and now having close family ties in Bolivar, he decided to start a new Rocco’s here, he said.
He took possession of the new location on Monday, Nov. 25, and the building— which was built in 1928 — needs some work, he said.
“The history is fantastic, but it needed some help,” he noted, explaining he and his family have torn out the vinyl floor, taken out a bar dated from the ‘50s, and part of the ceiling was falling.
He and his team will cover the back of the restaurant “with metal,” and there will be polishing and painting work on the outside, he said.
Looking forward to the interior, he said, there won’t be a buffet option so customers will be able to get “fresh pizza,” but there will be a mini-pizza menu option for lunch-goers needing to eat quickly.
There will also be a salad option, he noted, with fresh vegetables and fruits.
“We slice our onions, we slice our peppers, no bags,” he said.
Allen said he wasn’t sure yet if pizza delivery will be an option.
“I think delivery will probably come as an evening option, and not a lunch option,” he said. “It takes a lot of drivers at lunch.”
As a family-run type of business, Allen said he will have extra help on hand when the restaurant opens doors.
“When you open a new location, you get crushed,” he said. “So I’ll have a lot of friends and family — as I try to train people, too — for that first wave.”
And pizza fans won’t have to wait long for a slice of Rocco’s.
“Hopefully in two months — give or take — I’ll be selling pizzas and calzones,” Allen said. “That’s the goal.”
The front of Rocco’s Pizza on Bolivar’s downtown square, estimated to open in around two months.