Rosati’s Pizza in Schererville may have a new location, but there’s nearly a century of tradition behind the name that began in Coney Island, New York and then Chicago’s Taylor Street.
The name goes back to the 1890s when Italian immigrant Ferdinand Rosati opened a New York restaurant. The family later moved to Chicago where in 1927 Ferdinand’s son, Saverio “Sam” Rosati opened an Italian restaurant on Taylor Street in Chicago, which became a popular nightspot.
“There were nights you might see Al Capone having a meal there and across the room Elliot Ness was sitting there too,” said Rosati’s president Marla Topliff.
Popular at the restaurant was an appetizer – a homemade tomato sauce on flatbread that people loved and were asking for.
When Sam retired his sons continued the family tradition and in 1964 expanded on the concept of that popular appetizer by opening the first Rosati’s Pizza in 1964 in Mount Prospect, Ill.
Today the still-family owned business in creeping on 200 stores in 15 states.
While most stores are carry out/delivery only, 15, including the Schererville location, are pizza pubs that feature full-service, sit down restaurants.
“Most of the new stores we’re opening we’re opening in the pub style,” Topliff said. “Our customers were asking for it. They wanted a place to be able to come with their friends or bring the kids and sit and eat and have a night out. We’re still using the same great Rosati’s recipes that Ferdinand brought with him from Italy with some new modern touches,” Topliff said. “We’ve added salads and a couple new items to menu.”
Rosati’s began 50th anniversary celebrations in January. Topliff attributes the enduring success of Rosati’s to the company putting out a good product.
“There’s a lot of heart and soul in our product,” she said. “We’re also very much ingrained in the communities that we serve. We try to give back to every community we are in and make them part of our family.”
Rosati’s has also instituted a new catering system more designed for businesses. Families continue to experience catering for birthday and home parties but Rosati’s is reaching out to businesses by being able to provide for lunches and functions.
“The menu is a little more upscale,” Topliff said.