Frank Scarpino has been making and selling pizza and pasta in the Bradenton and Sarasota communities since 1982.
His original restaurant was Mama Onesti’s, located near Jungle Gardens.
In all, Scarpino reckons he has opened 14 restaurants over the years.
About three weeks ago, Scarpino and his brothers, Giuseppi and Rocco, opened Rocco’s Pizza & Pasta Grill at 827 14th St. W., in a location known as Kite’s Corner.
The Scarpino brothers hail from Calabria, Italy, where the toe of the Italian peninsula almost connects with Sicily.
Rocco’s specializes in thin-crust pizza, which Scarpino says is real Italian pizza, as embraced by New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia pizzerias, as opposed to thick-crust pizza, which is associated with Sicilian pies.
Rocco Scarpino runs the brothers’ other eatery, Scarpino’s Family Restaurant at 6152 14th St. W.
Giuseppi, also known as Joe, manages Rocco’s. Frank runs between the two, helping at each location.
The menu at Rocco’s reflects the depth of Italian cuisine, served in either the 70-seat dining room or as takeout or delivery.
So, where to start? The menu has just about any dish that fans of Italian cuisine could wish for, including pizza, pasta, stromboli and calzones, veal and chicken dishes, sandwiches, burgers, salads, soups and starters and more.
Among the gourmet pizzas, baked in a stone oven, are a selection of more than a dozen pies, ranging from meatball, Alfredo, the Rocco (tomato sauce, mozzarella, arugula, prosciutto and shaved parmesan), white pizza and meat lover’s.
Small pizzas are $10.95 and large 16-inch pies are $19.95.
Pasta dishes include rigatoni, spaghetti, ravioli, lasagna, cannelloni and more, ranging from $13.95 to $16.95.
Lunch specials, served from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., are $6.95 to $7.95.
Sandwiches, also served from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., include eggplant parmigiana, chicken parmigiana, Philly steak, sausage, pepper and onions, Italian hero, club, meatball and turkey club, all for $8.95.
Gluten-free dishes also are available.
Joe Scarpino says he has been cooking for a quarter century. Asked for his favorite dish, he replies ossobuco, cross-cut veal shanks braised with vegetables, broth and white wine.
Frank Scarpino says his favorite is Veal Florentine, served in a light tomato sauce topped with spinach, prosciutto and mozzarella.
Rocco’s is open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. seven days a week.
For more information about Rocco’s, visit roccospizzapastagrill.com or call 941-226-0000.