Classic Pizza Restaurants in Delaware: Dominick Pulieri Founded Grotto Pizza in Rehoboth Beach
Dominick Pulieri of Grotto Pizza: He’s one of a kind.
photograph by Jared Castaldi
There are many pizza makers in Delaware, but only one Dominick Pulieri.
Having founded Grotto Pizza with brother-in-law Joe Paglianite and sister Mary Jean in 1960, Pulieri introduced pizza to Delawareans back when the delectable edible wasn’t so hot. That original Grotto pie was so good that vacationers and locals bought boxes of it to freeze for later indulgences. Swirls of Wisconsin cheesy goodness and California sauces hit the spot, especially during the winter doldrums. Anyone with a working oven was made whole by simply heating the goods.
It was all pretty simple, yet magical at the same time. Warming up a Grotto pie during winter didn’t just tame the craving monster. Its taste brought back summer memories, and that’s the kind of transformative power that turns a pizza shop into an icon.
Grotto Pizza has celebrated more than 50 years in the business. “I attribute this to the loyal guests who come in and tell me stories of their first Grotto experience, and introduce me to their children and grandchildren,” says Pulieri. “I’m also proud of and appreciate all of the employees who have been part of the Grotto family. We have employees who now have their children working for us in key roles, which says a lot about the strong and supportive culture in the company.”
The trait Pulieri shares with other great leaders is his inability to accept mediocrity. “I’m a fanatic about the quality of Grotto Pizza,” he says. “I constantly monitor our pizza and read every guest comment to ensure that we’re the best.”
That’s a lot of comments, since Grotto Pizza is a veritable empire fortified by many locations statewide. Service? Pulieri is passionate about it. “Within our company we continually stress service—not only in the restaurants, but in our communities.”
Grotto is all grown up, boasting menus packed with items like gelato, pasta—even gluten-free crust. The pizza is still the thing, though. And that thing is still a classic.