Still Lookin’ for a Sign?
by Cate Murway
Well…. Cesare’s Italian Specialties Ristorante has a NEW one! Check it out!
A new sign replaces the old one....era 1961!!
The old sign is “Definitely saved, right next to the very first one. We’re pretty sentimental over here.”
Cesare's was established in 1947 and proudly owns the title of Bucks County's Original Tomato Pie.
The late U.S. Army Master Sergeant John “Cesare” Petolillo and his wife, Christine “Helen” [Liberty] owned “Cesare’s Pizzeria”, now “Cesare’s Italian Specialties Ristorante” [the closest thing to home cooking!] on Radcliffe Street. It is currently owned by their son, proprietor Dominic “Donnie” Petolillo, a family tradition eatery for over 70 years, owned and continuously operated by the Petolillo family.
The renowned late artist, Joseph E. “Joe” Pavone created the bronze bust of the late owner, John Petolillo that commands the front foyer of Cesare's Ristorante.
Cesare Petolillo's first location served the masses in Florence, NJ in 1947. Cesare then relocated his business to Bristol Borough in 1949 before opening a second location in Levittown in 1964.
“My father and his brother-in-law WWII Army veteran Lewis J. "Cesare" Silvestro, Sr. [wife Eleanor Petolillo] started the pizza business. The Silvestro family had owned a tomato pie business, Joe's Tomato Pies, on South Clinton Avenue, Trenton since 1910.” Lew's passion had been making tomato pies since he was just eight years old.
They kept the menu simple, doing and serving what they did best and Cesare's became widely known for their pizzas, steak sandwiches, and hoagies. In 1984, the great family-friendly Cesare’s expanded its Bristol location and a new facility was constructed. It was in that Radcliffe Street location that the menu slowly increased, only after Cesare made sure each selection was truly exceptional.
Now the full service Italian menu includes homemade soups and salad dressings, milk fed veal, along with imported and homemade pasta, and so very many more down-home choices.
“Great place! Great atmosphere, great deals and right in the neighborhood.”
John "Cesare" has passed on but his personal goals and inventive ideas live on, combining part of the legendary past with part of the present. It truly just makes Cesare's what it is today!
“Food and service is excellent!! Would definitely recommend to anyone!!”
Donnie’s son John Anthony, Holy Ghost Preparatory School/La Salle University, wanted the new sign.
They chose Custom Finishers, Sign Manufacturers in Edgley to create the sign that enhances their brand image. “Those guys make the signs. They don’t just sell them.”
Donnie believes that some 2nd and 3rd generation businesses fail because that last generation hands it off too late.
“I just wanted a message board, not a billboard but I’m a believer. If you want to give him the ball, ya gotta let him do what he wants. I don’t micromanage. I let him do what he wants. The “specials” are his idea, too.”
John is apparently attending a very powerful OJT/ graduate school working alongside his father.
“It was my son’s choice to work here. I didn’t want him thinking this was a jail sentence. It’s weekends, it’s nights, it’s seven days.”
In corporate America, the bottom line is that busy is good and bottom line is most important.
“When you’re young you want money but when you get older you want time. A balance is good.”
Donnie confirmed that the hardest part is getting labor, getting people to work.
“My grandfather, Dominic was a laborer. He came to America from Italy with $12.00 in his pocket.
If he didn’t work, he didn’t eat.”
Dominic and Maria Petolillo lived on Brook Street and then purchased a home on 222 Jefferson Avenue. “Back then, Italians weren’t allowed on Radcliffe. His father-in-law ran a candy store that went out of business and my grandfather lost his job at Corona Leather Works.”
Corona Leather had been located on Beaver Street, the location of Columbia Lighting, now Hubbell Lighting, Inc.
In 1939, Dominic and Maria Petolillo lost the house and returned the family to Lincoln Avenue.
Donnie bought that house on Jefferson Avenue when it went up for sale, that very house that his grandfather had lost.
“His name and my name is the same, I wanted that name back on that house.”
Cesare’s has always been a family business, an institution in Bristol.
“My son is taking it over and business is good. We started out with a little place on the corner.
I know it will be in good hands.”
Donnie was asked to speak to selected classes of Bristol High School students next week.
“I don’t want to talk about me. I want to talk about them. We’re in a country that allows us to do whatever we want to do. They have the world at their feet. They can do whatever they want to do. They should take advantage of that. They can!”
Cesare’s Italian Specialties Ristorante continues to serve a wide variety of real Italian fare at really good prices, along with new authentic Italian cuisine menu items and great hot Italian bread….but this local favorite is still best known in all of Lower Bucks County for its pizza.
* They offer $5.00 original large tomato pies on Mondays 11:00AM-closing [eat-in only].
A cheese steak sounds like a good idea?
*$5.00 large cheese steaks on Tuesdays 4:00PM-closing [eat-in or takeout].
Family birthdays, private parties, Class Reunions, special holiday/occasion celebrations as well as fundraising events like the “The Ann Mignoni Mundy Memorial Heart Dinner” held during "Go Red for Women" in the month of February are hosted at Cesare’s.
They are extremely generous to the local community, supporting the schools, and local and area non-profits, truly an integral piece of the Bristol Borough Community.
The seating area is spacious, casual with an upscale feel and there are plenty of comfortable booths and a fully stocked bar as well. The restaurant is wheelchair friendly and provides a private parking lot facility for its customers.
Enjoy the quaint riverfront town of Bristol during First Fridays on the Delaware all summer long and finish off the evening at Bucks Happening 2019 Food: Pizza Finalist, Cesare’s Italian Ristorante. They keep the aroma, the taste, the very tradition of leisurely family dinners alive. Every bite takes you home.
P.S. There’s a bus shuttle to and from the First Fridays festivals from the Lenox Corporation parking lot on 1414 Radcliffe Street located right across the street from Cesare’s. Park and ride!
Get Cesare's Ristorante delivered to your home by DoorDash Delivery or stop in and pick up your delicious take-out food selections.
You can’t live a full life on an empty stomach!
Cesare’s Italian Specialties Ristorante
1407 Radcliffe Street
Bristol Borough, PA
Recommend a “Spotlight”. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org