Story and Photos by Melanie Kopacz
Big Roccoâ€™s Pizzeria and Tavern is part pizzeria and part neighborhood bar with a weekly lineup of live music to rock anyoneâ€™s musical tastes.
The bar concept includes pool leagues, poker, bingo and sporting events meshed with a lively crowd. Thereâ€™s also amped-up pub food and a bar full of specials. But itâ€™s the traditional New York-style pizza at Big Roccoâ€™s that is the true star with a fan base all its own.
The restaurant has become a destination for its New York-style flavors, opening its doors in 2019 at the Village Shoppes, located at the northwest corner of Southern Blvd. and State Road 7 in Royal Palm Beach.
Big Roccoâ€™s is a loyal go-to for pizza lovers craving the authentic flavor, sauce and crust.
â€œItâ€™s all made from scratch â€” the dough and the sauce, using San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes,â€ said owner Vikas Bansal, who moved from India to New York City, and thatâ€™s where he quickly became a fan of East Coast-style pizza. â€œI lived in New York City for 17 years. I always loved the pizza there.â€
It became the inspiration years later when Bansal opened a gas station in Wellington. That is where the concept for Big Roccoâ€™s came to be. Starting as a very busy â€œExpressâ€ pizza to-go business, Bansal decided to expand his popular pizza business into a full restaurant and tavern with live events. It has been attracting both locals and the equestrian crowd during the season, as itâ€™s geared for people of all ages.
â€œWe want people to come in and have a good time,â€ Bansal said. â€œParents and kids.â€
The casual atmosphere makes for a laid-back dining experience, with a wide variety of pizza choices, such as the popular BBQ Chicken Pizza, layered with a smoky sauce, generous portions of tender chicken, sprinkled with onions and bacon. It is one of the top choices on the menu.
The New Yorker Pizza is also a big seller, loaded with pepperoni, sausage, onions and mushrooms, along with a mix of fresh red and green peppers. Make it a Big Roccoâ€™s Signature Pizza by taking all those same ingredients, then add ham, tomatoes, black olives and extra cheese.
Other interesting combinations include the Meatball Parm Pizza, topped with ricotta cheese, meatballs and fresh garlic, and the Buffalo Chicken Pizza with grilled chicken and blue cheese crumbles.
For a great deal, check out the large cheese pizza special for $10.99 Mondays and Tuesdays. Add a topping or two for 99 cents each.
Lunch specials from just $7.99 run until 3 p.m. and include a beverage or a draft beer. It includes different combinations, from two slices of pizza, or mix it up with a garden salad. Cheeseburgers or chicken tenders with fries are also available. Drink specials at that time are $3 for draft beers and $5 for house liquor.
The dining room is filled with lots of high-top seating, as well as a few large and cozy corner booths. The bar sits just toward the back with seating all along three sides. There are a number of drink specials and about a dozen beers on tap that rotate. At the bar, the top seller is Fifty States 6x distilled premium vodka.
If youâ€™re looking to snack, the wings are a specialty that come in several flavors, from southern barbecue to honey bourbon, garlic parmesan and more. Theyâ€™re marinated, baked and flash-fried for a juicy, crispy wing.
The Hangover Burger is a huge hit, oozing with toppings that include cheddar cheese, sliced tomatoes, bacon, a fried egg and mango habanero sauce to round out the flavors. Thereâ€™s also stromboli and calzone choices, including a veggie option.
Piping hot meatballs made fresh from scratch are simmered in their homemade tomato sauce and sit atop spaghetti. They come with the popular garlic knots, baked and basted with butter and fresh garlic.
The New York Cheesecake is a delicious way to end a meal, topped with a variety of drizzle options, including chocolate, caramel, strawberry or blackberry.
The large pool room sits toward the back of the restaurant. It also doubles as a private party room. It includes darts and other games. A large wine selection fills the nearby wall.
The dining room is lit with warm fixtures creating a relaxed atmosphere, as Louis Prima and Dean Martin songs play on the jukebox, and paintings of Al Pacino and Leonardo DiCaprio hang on the walls.
A variety of genres of live music fill the restaurant every Friday night, spanning from country, to pop, rock and folk. The fun continues throughout the week with poker night on Wednesdays, bingo on Thursdays and karaoke on Saturdays, as well as monthly paint-n-sip parties. Big Roccoâ€™s also hosts a large contingent of Miami Dolphins football fans.
â€œWe also have a charity event once a month with as many as 200 people, along with vendors, a quarter auction and more,â€ Bansal said. â€œOur goal is to be a neighborhood bar and a favorite restaurant.â€
Current hours are noon to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and noon to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. The restaurant will open daily at 11 a.m. during the winter equestrian season.
Big Roccoâ€™s Pizzeria and Tavern is located at 10479 Southern Blvd. in Royal Palm Beachâ€™s Village Shoppes. For more info., call (561) 318-8927 or visit www.bigroccospizzeriatavern.com. Find them on Facebook and Instagram for details on upcoming events.