Bocce Club Pizza to Open New Downtown Buffalo Location

By Arthur Bovino
February 8, 2018

Bocce Club Pizza is probably the most iconic pizzeria in Buffalo. Some folks might debate that and call out La Nova. It’d be a clean fight—above the belt. Regardless, The Buffalo News reported some big Bocce-related news. Food Editor Andrew Galarneau notes that owner Jim Pacciotti is reopening on the corner of Clinton and Adams where Bocce once served Buffalo for half a century.

Bocce got its start on Hickory Street in 1946 after Dino Pacciotti returned from World War II. The business was a members-only bocce ball court. (“You needed a membership to come in,” his son Jim Pacciotti told me. “You had your card, you played some bocce, and had a meal.”) Dino, a bartender, bought Bocce and decided to start making pizza. “The other bartenders thought he was crazy,” Jim told me last year, “but he found a Blodgett oven in the basement and started experimenting with a recipe.”

The Hickory location closed in 1958. “People were skipping out on mass for pizza and liquor and the priest wasn’t happy about it,”  Jim told me. They opened a new location on Clinton Street the same year, and followed that in 1959, with a new location on Bailey in the town of Amherst on the outskirts of the city. The Bailey location, owned by Jim, has gone on to become one of the most beloved pizzerias in Western New York, but the Clinton Street spot closed in 2011 after its operator, Rudy Sacco died. By all accounts, Rudy must have been quite the character. Jim told me Rudy, his cousin, used to carry two guns.

Jim Pacciotti is reopening Bocce Club Pizza on the corner of Clinton and Adams where Bocce once served Buffalo for half a century.

Pacciotti told The News that he bought the building at 630 Clinton Street five years ago. “I’m using the bones of the building, which are good,” he was reported saying. “There’s lots of work to do.”

The idea that a new Bocce will be opening in an original Bocce location a five-minute drive east of downtown Buffalo is another sign that the city is on the rise. But by all indications, it still may be some time before it opens. When I talked with Jim in February 2017, he told me they were hoping to open a downtown location in July or August. This is that same location, and the goal now is three to nine months.

Whenever it opens, it will be a significant date to add to a list of other important milestones in Bocce’s history. — 🍕🤠

1942 Dino Pacciotti goes off to war.
1945 When he gets back, Dino works part-time for Bocce Club and gets a job at General Mills as an accountant.
1946 Dino Pacciotti and his sister Melvina Sacco purchase the Bocce Club and start developing pizza.
1955 Dino Pacciotti takes a risk and quits a job at General Mills to work full-time at Bocce
1958 The Hickory Street Bocce closes and the Clinton Bocce opens.
1959 The Bailey Avenue Bocce location opens.
1959 The Bailey Avenue Bocce location opens.
1978 Dino Pacciotti dies. The Pacciotti family continues to run the Bailey location. The Sacco family runs the Clinton Street spot.
1983 The Bailey store remodels with wood front
1988 The Pacciotti family opens a Bocce location on Hopkins Road.
1996 Bocce Club Pizza turns 50 years old.
2009 Bocce celebrates 50 years on Bailey Avenue with a new stucco facade.

Bocce Club Pizza (Downtown)
630 Clinton Street

10 Best Pizzas of 2017

By Arthur Bovino
January 5, 2018

One hundred and eleven places — by my count, that’s how many I hit during 2017, mostly in New York’s five boroughs and Buffalo (where I was doing research on the best wings, beef on weck, and pizza), but also in New Jersey, Maryland, and Texas (Dallas and San Antonio). And while eating pizza once every three-and-a-half days will probably keep the dues paid as far as maintaining my pizza cowboy bona fides, it has made it challenging to narrow down a list of just the top 10.

So I’ll make it a little easier by not including for consideration the 33 places I’ve previously visited, some of which I hit several times in 2017. That leaves 78 places to whittle down. It was still tough, one reason being the dozens of Buffalo pizzerias I visited. They totally skewed this list by taking half its spots. One of them would undoubtedly have been king of the hill if it hadn’t been for one truly inimitable pie. (In fact, Buffalo pizza deserves its own best-of list, so look for it in June in my upcoming book “Buffalo Everything”!)

Before listing the top 10, here are a dozen pies that deserve honorable mention. Leonardi’s Pizzeria for a straight-up delicious parking lot meal-worthy cup-and-char pizza; Emilio’s of Morris Park for their chicken vodka slice; Rosario’s of Astoria, which I was turned on to by and visited with Adam KubanVIPizza in Bayside, Queens, for its exemplary Sicilian; The Parlor in Dobb’s Ferry, N.Y., for its bone marrow, everything bagel, and lemon pizzas; Lou Malnati’s, whose Toro pop-up made me grudgingly admit there may be room for love in my heart for this style of pizza; Delorenzo’s in Robbinsville for its tomato pie; Pizza Town USA in Elmwood Park, N.J., for its super thin plain cheese slice; Johnny’s Pizzeria in Sunset Park, Queens, for its old-school New York City slice; Vic’s in NoHo, for one of the most right-under-my-nose good pizzas in recent memory; Federici’s of Freehold, N.J., for its storied bar pizzas (hat tip to Adam again for this rec); and Anthony Falco’s Thin ‘n’ Crispy bar pizza served at a packed pop-up at Hair of the Dog on the Lower East Side.

I could go on. But with that…

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