Grotto PizzaOur History

The Beginning

Dominick Pulieri was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to Italian-immigrant parents. After high school, Dominick enrolled at Kings College in Wilkes-Barre and graduated as a pre-med major with a Bachelor’s 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 with his brother-in-law, Joseph Pagliaite’s pizza restaurant in Harvey’s Lake, Pennsylvania. It was at Joe’s Pizza that Dominick’s passion for pizza was ignited.

Founded in 1960

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 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 out free samples to those who passed by his restaurant. In July of that summer, he noticed he was starting to get many repeat guests. Local Sussex County guests and tourists from the D.C. and Maryland helped to put Grotto Pizza on the map. It was later the local Sussex County guests, and later the tourists from the DC and Maryland area, who put Grotto Pizza on the map.

Incredible Growth

In the years that followed, Grotto Pizza 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 guests.

Where We Are Today

From these humble beginnings, Grotto Pizza has grown to multiple locations throughout the states of Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Although Grotto Pizza has expanded beyond the small take-out stand, the company continues to adhere to its core values of excellent pizza, food, friendly guest service and community service.

Grotto Pizza Gives Back!

Since establishing our Grotto Gives Back program in 1985, Grotto Pizza has donated in excess of $15 million to our local communities through our Community Pizza Night program, holiday fundraising, and donations to youth programs, schools, the military, hospitals, first responders and other philanthropic giving.