Bocce Club Pizza
Fueled by bocce ball and a passion for a good pie, this family-run pizzeria has been a Buffalo-area favorite for more than 60 years.
After returning from a post-WW II tour of Italy, Dino Pacciotti—the son of Italian immigrants in Buffalo in the 1920s—had the traditions of his ancestors on his mind: namely, bocce ball and pizza. Although he’d landed a steady job at General Mills, he decided to buy the local bar and bocce ball club where he also worked part-time (then called Bocce’s), with his brother-in-law, Michael Sacco, in 1946. Only a couple of years later, the menu expanded to offer pizza after they discovered an old pizza oven in the basement.
“My dad had a good job, so people thought he was crazy to leave it—pizza was a new, up-and-coming thing back then,” says Dino’s son, Jim Pacciotti, who took over the business in 1978. But it wasn’t such a bad move after all; the entrepreneurial Dino made significant headway in the pizza industry, offering Buffalo’s first takeout in corrugated boxes in 1955 and becoming a pioneer in take-and-bake by selling half-baked pies for home cooking.
Flushed with success, they moved to a larger location in 1958; in 1959, the year Jim was born, a second location opened. Now, 50 years later, Jim takes pride in keeping his pizzas’ quality and taste consistent without foregoing the handmade touch. “The key is consistency with the product—that’s what keeps you going,” he notes. “We still hand-stretch the dough to give it that homemade, mom-and-pop feel. When something works, we stick with it.”
But Jim knows that keeping up with the times is just as crucial, so he’s added gluten-free and whole-wheat crusts to the menu, and customers can now place their orders online as well. Even so, Bocce Club continues to cater to a blue-collar base with plenty of meal deals and a time-tested menu. “People want value—you have to offer bang for the buck,” he says. “Lucky for us, pizza is almost recession-proof.” —Tracy Morin
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