The great pizza debate is settled. Rocco’s of Roc Beach was declared the winner of the Queens’ Best Pizza Competition organized by the Queens Chamber of Commerce. Over the past month, pizza aficionados nominated and voted for their favorite slices and pies from across the borough, and the Rockaway Park eatery emerged as the winner.
“We’re delighted to honor Rocco’s of Roc Beach as the inaugural winner,” said Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech. “Queens undoubtedly has the best pizza around, and every neighborhood has several great places to grab a slice or a pie, and after an exhaustive nomination process and then a voting process, I’m very happy to let folks know that Rocco’s of Roc Beach won. Congratulations to Jo-Anne Cotrone and Louis Cotrone and everyone at Rocco’s.”
Grech joined elected leaders at Rocco’s on Thursday – National Pizza Pie Day – to present Rocco’s with a plaque and feast on an assortment of pizzas. The restaurant opened at 115-10 Rockaway Beach Blvd. just around the corner from the Beach 116th Street commercial corridor in 2021.
“My husband and I took a chance. We grew up in the Rockaways, going to the beaches here. We didn’t show up and decide to open a restaurant; we are part of this community. We believe in this community,” Jo-Anne Cotrone said. “We are very loyal, humble, thankful and grateful to everyone here, all our customers. Without our customers, without all the people that voted for us, this would not be possible. We’re shocked that we were even nominated.”
She said all of their food is homemade with ingredients from Italy.
“To our loyal customers who patronize and support us, we appreciate you and are forever grateful for taking the time to vote for us,” Louis Cotrone said. “And a big thank-you goes to our dedicated staff at Rocco’s of Roc Beach and our five-star chef Bruno Milone and Pizzaiola Angelo for their craft of old-world coal brick oven pizza.”
Pizza D’Amore at 208 Beach 116th St. in Rockaway Park finished second in the competition.
“It’s great to see District 32 recognized as having the best pizza in the borough,” said Councilwoman Joann Ariola. “Rocco’s is a relatively new establishment, but as this award shows, they’ve had a big impact on their community, and they’ve quickly become a staple of the neighborhood. I’m proud to know the owners professionally and personally, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings for them.”
Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said finishing first and second, in the competition elevates Rockaway and applauded Rocco’s for being a part of that.
“We know we have the best beaches, and now we have the number one pizzeria,” Pheffer Amato said. “Good people make good food, so of course, the best pizza in Queens is from the Rockaway Peninsula — was there ever any doubt? I knew from the moment we cut the ribbon and opened Rocco’s that this place was special. I am so proud of Rocco’s and the whole team for this amazing distinction.”
Gaby’s Pizza on Hillside Avenue in Hollis finished third in the competition.
“Everyone knows that Queens, specifically southeast Queens and Rockaway, has some of the best pizza in the world. And now, everyone knows that Rocco’s of Roc Beach has an unbeatable slice,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. “I look forward to pizza lovers from all across the city coming down to Rockaway this year to support local small businesses like Rocco’s of Roc Beach and get a taste of what makes the peninsula so great.”
Robert Intelisano, who writes the “A SLICE of Queens” column in the Chamber’s monthly This is Queensboro magazine, grew up in Rockaway, which he said is not known as a food haven.
“Rockaway pizza has arrived — what can I say? I’m just so excited that Rockaway’s a foodie scene,” he said. “The fact that Rocco’s of Roc Beach is located in my hometown makes this ‘Best of Queens’ title sweeter for me.”
Ariola added a salute to the Cotrones.
“This is a hometown girl and boy done good, and they came here to the Rockaway Peninsula and they worked with their elected officials, they took a chance on Rockaway and it paid off,” Ariola said. “And we really can’t thank you enough because we believe in Rockaway. We believe in what Rockaway brings to this borough.”
Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane.