Pasquale's Pizzeria bringing a taste of Little Italy to downtown Rochester
Pasquale's Neighborhood Pizzeria will soon open to the public.
The restaurant, located on the corner of 1st Avenue and 5th Street SW, just north of the People's Food Co-op, will feature New York-style pizza, as well as traditional Italian offerings, such as calzones, paninis and specialty pastas.
"Little Italy is coming to Rochester," said owner Pasquale Presa.
Presa, a longtime local chef who was born in Italy and grew up in New York, will be accompanied in the kitchen by his childhood friend Louie Talercio. The two worked together as teenagers at a pizza shop out east.
"I want authenticity," said Presa. "When I was building this together, my whole vision was I wanted to bring someone from New York that I could totally trust."
In February, Presa reached out to Talercio, who was still in New York, to see if his old friend could recommend someone for his new pizzeria in Rochester.
"I planted the seed," said Presa. "I knew he was thinking it through. The wheels were spinning. I said, 'think about it.' He never got back to me." Then six weeks ago, Presa reached out to Talercio once again. "I said, 'Louie, I need somebody. Do you know somebody? And he goes, 'you know what, I want to come.'"
Presa added, "Now he's not moving back. He's going to be here with us."
The two chefs will split responsibilities; Talercio will handle the pizzas while Presa manages the rest of the menu. And in addition to preparing the food, the open kitchen layout will make them part of the dining experience.
"I met someone the other night ... and they're like 'how are you going to stretch the pie — with a pizza roller?' I said, 'No, I do it by hand.' You know, my hands. I form it by hand," said Talercio.
Talercio comes to Rochester with more than 25 years of experience tossing pizzas. "It takes a long time to learn how to make the pie. You don't learn to do this overnight," he said. "It takes a long time, man."
True to form, the New York-style pizza will be thin and crispy — using fresh dough, homemade sauce, and specialty tomatoes and cheeses from Italy. The menu will offer both vegetarian and gluten-free options.
Adjacent to the dining area will be the La Dolce Vita (Italian for "The Sweet Life") pastry and coffee shop, where baristas will serve up espressos, cappuccinos, gelatos and freshly-baked pastries.
There are also plans for an in-house marketplace featuring Italian specialty items, as well as Pasquale's original pizza dough and sauce. "People can take that and bring it home and cook it with their families," said Presa.
Pasquale's Pizzeria is expected to open the public early next week. Delivery service will be available about a month after opening for orders within a two-mile radius of the restaurant (later expanding).
Note: A prior version of the story stated the restaurant would open to the public this weekend (Nov. 19). However, we received an update Thursday afternoon that electric work has delayed the opening until the following week. We encourage you to check the business's Facebook page for future updates.
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(Cover graphic: 9.SQUARE)