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2914 11th Street • Rockford, IL • 61109 • 815-398-4044 • www.johnspizzarockford.com

Giovanni "John" Frisella traveled to New York and Chicago before finally settling with relatives in Rockford in 1970. He left his roots with less than $100 in his pocket and by 1974 had opened John's Restaurant & Pizzeria on 11th Street."When he came to this country he was 19, not speaking the language," says his son, Joseph, who manages the restaurant along with his sister, Nadia. "He wanted to try the restaurant business even though he had no experience. My mom would make the sauce and the lasagna and my dad would make the dough from scratch. They worked out their own recipes from my mom's recipes and my grandma's. He'd stay open until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning back then, when no one else was open. He was one of the few who would do deliveries—50-cents he'd charge for delivery." The tiny original location, serving mostly carry-out and delivery orders, proved so successful that in 1979 the elder Frisella bought a nearby lot and built the current restaurant at 2914 11th Street.Joseph and Nadia manage things today, but their parents, John and Maria, ­remain hands-on. "Mom still comes in every day and makes the sauce and lasagna. She's the heart of the whole thing," Frisella says. "Dad loves to talk to everybody. He'll go around to tables on the weekends—he's still here Friday sand Saturdays. He comes in for lunches, too. He knows everybody."Frisella, who began working for his folks around age 10, loves seeing generations of customers enjoy their homemade pizzas, pasta, steaks, and seafood. Kids that used to come in with their parents now bring in their own kids, and grandkids.The Frisellas have no plans to open a new site, fearing it could stretch the family too thin. "That's part of the ­allure here—it's a family business. You know everyone," he says, adding, "About 85-90% of our customers are regulars. And if they're not a regular yet, the first time the come in they'll become a regular."

 
 
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