Grotto Pizza Founded in 1960
Dominick Pulieri was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to Italian-immigrant parents. After high school, Dominick enrolled in Kings College in Wilkes-Barre and graduated as a pre-med major with a Bachelors Degree in Biology in 1964. In addition to founding Grotto Pizza, Dominick taught biology, general science and chemistry in the Smyrna Special School District from 1965 to 1970.
From an early age, Dominick was making pizzas in his brother-in-law, Joseph Paglianite’s pizza restaurant in Harvey’s Lake, Pennsylvania. It was at Joe’s Pizza that Dominick’s passion for pizza was ignited.
In 1960, Dominick, along with his brother-in-law, Joe and sister, Mary Jean Paglianite, ventured to Delaware to open a pizza restaurant. This was the birth of Grotto Pizza. During this first summer, pizza slices sold for 20 cents each and a whole pizza was $1.60. The challenge, however, was to introduce pizza in an area where it was not recognized.
To create a market for his pizza, Dominick and his sister spent long hours talking to people and handing free samples to the people who passed by his restaurant. In July of that summer, he noticed he was starting to get many repeat guests and it was the local Sussex County guests, and later the tourists, who put Grotto Pizza on the map.
In the years that followed, Grotto Pizza has continued to grow and prosper. In 1963, Grotto Pizza opened a second location on the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach. In 1967, the original Rehoboth Avenue take-out stand moved to its present location in the “Arcade Building.”
Still a pizza-only enterprise, Grotto Pizza continued as a seasonal business from May through October. Customers would take pizzas home at the end of each summer and freeze them in order to have the taste of Grotto Pizza through the winter. In 1974, Dominick opened Grotto Pizza as a year-round restaurant to meet the demands of his loyal guests.
From these humble beginnings, Grotto Pizza has grown throughout Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Although Grotto Pizza has expanded beyond the small take-out stand, the company continues to adhere to its core values of excellent food, friendly guest service and community service.
Grotto Pizza thanks its loyal guests for making it a legend in Delaware and beyond for over half a century!