Neighborhood staple celebrates milestone
By Maria Allard
Posted July 9, 2014
WARREN — At the age of 7, John Rocca made his first pizza.
The dough, sauce and toppings blended together with just the right touch as the budding chef found his way around the kitchen at Firenze Restaurant, the eatery his parents, Pasquale and Marie Rocca, opened in 1964.
The restaurant and pizzeria, located at 11028 10 Mile Road, has proved a local favorite in the city ever since and celebrates its 50-year anniversary this year. Firenze, now owned by John Rocca and his wife, Helen, has kept the family’s tradition of serving appetizing home-cooked meals at affordable prices. Many patrons are regular customers at the Warren staple and feel like family to the Roccas.
When it first opened five decades ago, Firenze was primarily a pizzeria with six tables and a jukebox. In no time, the restaurant became a regular hangout for Lincoln High School students who would come in to devour fresh-out-of-the-oven pizza.
As business grew, the Roccas added on to accommodate their expanding clientele that came in for the restaurant’s Italian favorites, including homemade spaghetti, brick-oven pizza, and chicken or eggplant parmesan dishes. Hungry diners also can choose a daily special and, of course, the cannoli’s for dessert.
The Rocca’s recipes have stayed true to their Italian roots, remaining consistent over the years. The menu items and friendly atmosphere continues to attract customers 50 years after opening. Staff gets to know the clientele by name, and often know what they want to eat and drink the minute they walk in the door.
The restaurant’s fish is also a big hit with diners. In 2006, Firenze was selected as the Best Seafood Non-Chain Restaurant in the sixth annual C & G Newspapers Restaurant Contest. Firenze’s fish and chips, with homemade tartar sauce on the side, easily took top honors.
“It’s our biggest seller, especially ... with the Lenten season,” John Rocca said at the time. “During Lent, we get about 600 pounds of cod a week.”
Cod is used for the fish and chips, and Firenze staff members cut the fish right at the restaurant. The fish is deep fried, and staff has used the same seasoning from the restaurant’s early days.
For more information on Firenze, call (586) 757-5400, or stop in to wish staff a happy 50-year anniversary.
About the author
Staff Writer Maria Allard covers the school districts of Center Line, Fitzgerald, Van Dyke, Warren Consolidated and Warren Woods, and Macomb Community College for the Warren Weekly newspaper. She also covers the City of Grosse Pointe Woods and the Grosse Pointe Public Schools System for the Grosse Pointe Times newspaper. Allard has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University, and she is in love with the Rolling Stones.
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