Original Frankie’s Famous Pizza, a veritable Westchester landmark located at 9118 Bird Rd., is celebrating its 60th anniversary on Feb. 14.
Widely regarded as Miami’s oldest pizzeria, the critically acclaimed family-owned business run by sisters Roxanne and Renee Pasquarella will commemorate the occasion with a party on Valentine’s Day, between 6 and 11 p.m., with music, activities, games and great food for the entire family.
“Anybody who wants to come out and celebrate, we’d love to have you,” Renee said. “It’s a major accomplishment and it’s been a lot of hard work. We always miss our parents, so it’s sort of bittersweet, but we’re happy to have gotten here.”
Frankie’s Pizza is named after its founder, Frank B. Pasquarella, who after honeymooning in Miami with his wife, Doreen, noted that, while there were several Italian restaurants in the burgeoning city, there was a distinct lack of pizza shops. The couple used a veteran’s administration loan and opened their doors on Valentine’s Day, 1955, near the University of Miami. Two years later, they relocated to their current spot, a former grocery store surrounded at the time largely by farmland, unpaved roads and undeveloped wilderness.
“Everything out here was just open land with orange groves, horses, some cows and not much else,” Roxanne said. “There wasn’t a lot of development, but that little grocery store which later became this pizza shop serviced this area and the people who lived out here.”
The Pasquarella sisters, who took over daily operations when their father grew ill (Roxanne was 22; Renee was 17), are warm, enthusiastic and thoughtful all at the same time. Both have a deep knowledge of Miami and the area surrounding their store and could possibly be South Florida’s two most disarming unofficial historians.
Perhaps this is because history is such an enormous part of their family’s legacy and keeping it intact has been a lasting priority.
They’ve upheld their parents’ original vision —the menu has remained virtually unchanged — and refuse to cut corners anywhere.
Everything is made from scratch daily, from the homemade tomato sauce and fresh dough to the cut and ground logs of cheese that, despite their higher cost, ensure that there are no wax filters or other artificial ingredients.
“Just getting the pizza done to our standard of quality takes a lot of concentration and work,” Renee said. “We’ve watched many businesses that were around for a long time go under and there was that temptation to make changes to our menu, but we’ve found ways to do well without sacrificing the quality of our pizza.”
Their adherence to tradition hasn’t prevented them from thinking proactively, however. Frankie’s Pizza now has a food truck which visits Flamingo Gardens in Davie every first Friday of the month and caters to local parties and events, and their signature 10 percent off half-baked pizzas have become so popular that the sisters now ship them all around the country.
“I’ve seen people grow up with me, coming into the pizza shop, and now we’re growing old together,” Roxanne said. “It’s very fulfilling. It’s so heartwarming when customers who have moved away call me and tell me, ‘I just arrived at the airport and I’m on my way over.’ It’s really nice to be remembered that way.”
For more information, visit www.FrankiesPizzaOnline.com or call 305-221-0221.