In 1922, Giovanni and Virginia Biale left the town of Savona in Genoa, Italy with their three young sons, Giacomo, Mario and Rudolfo to make a new life in America. With help from a cousin, they made their way to San Francisco and settled in the Italian section of Potrero Hill. Less than a year later, my grandfather, Giovanni, opened "Biale's Meat Market" on Connecticut Street. To this day "Biale" is still tiled in the entryway of the building.
Giacomo "Jack", my uncle, stayed in the butcher business while Mario, my father, and Rudy went into the bar and restaurant business in San Francisco, Phoenix and Honolulu. Rudy owned and operated two "Rudy's Italian Restaurants" in Waikiki for 25 years.
I worked at Rudy's for 3 years with my brother Anthony. It was there I learned the importance of being a hands-on owner. People came from all over the world to visit "Rudy's", enjoying the food, the wine, and the gracious host.
A TRIBUTE TO JOLTIN' JOE
In 1951, Joe DiMaggio's fantastic baseball career was nearing it's end. The New York Yankees were far out in front in the American League. In a meaningless, late September game, DiMaggio turned a single into a sliding double, sore knees and all. When asked by reporters after the game, "Joe, why the extra effort for no apparent reason", DiMaggio responded "There might be someone who hasn't seen me play before."
As I open the doors of Rocco's Ristorante & Pizzeria every day, I take the same attitude. Someone is coming here for the first time and I want to make a good impression.
Wine and spirits have been part of my family’s history since the turn of the last century. After leaving Italy in 1922 Giovanni continued to make his own wine as he did in Italy. At many, if not all family meals, the home made wine was served along with wonderful Italian dishes.
When Prohibition set in, my grandfather would re-locate the family’s wine down the coast to Rockaway Beach and hide it along the rocky, ocean seafront. We owned a vacation house nearby and The Biale family and friends enjoyed homemade wine during prohibition along with other neighboring families.
My father Mario bought his first nightclub in San Francisco in the early 1940’s. The Carnival Club on Eddy Street. The Carnival Club was very popular with servicemen during WWII as they passed through the Port of San Francisco. My father then bought The ShadowBox in Laurel Heights and enjoyed more success. In the 1950’s my father and his brother Rudy opened The Between the Acts on Geary St. in the heart of San Francisco’s popular theatre district.
Augustino “Bimbo“ Giancola was a lifelong friend of my father’s. In 1960 Bimbo asked my father to run the bar at the World Famous Bimbo’s 365 Club on Columbus in North Beach. He worked there until he retired in the early 1970’s. Rudy moved to Hawaii in the mid 60’s and owned many successful businesses in Waikiki. In addition to owning Rudy’s Italian Restaurants, he owned Davy Jones Locker, Rudy’s Hideaway, Jilly’s Disco and many more establishments.
After working for Rudy in the late 80’s I came back to California and worked at several restaurants, bars and nightclubs in Contra Costa County before opening Rocco’s Ristorante & Pizzeria in the autumn of 1999. Our current full bar expansion was completed in January 2006.
I have tried to maintain that same warm and inviting feeling my father and uncle provided for so many years. My family hopes you enjoy your visit and will come see us again!
Rocco Biale, your host