After young Frank Pasquarella and his wife, Noreen, visited Miami ontheir honeymoon, they fell in love with the city and decided to relocatefrom Ohio and open a pizzeria. On Valentine’s Day in 1955, Frankie’sPizza opened in southwest Miami; two years later, it moved to its currentspot, a building on Bird Road that formerly housed a small grocery.The location immediately became a success, thanks in part to myriadmarketing schemes: placing a free slice on top of every to-go box (toeat on the ride home, Frankie said); creating the “Frankiemobile”; andoffering “free pizza nights” for hungry customers.
Though the business has seen great success over the years, it wasn’talways smooth sailing: Frankie suffered a heart attack in 1963 at age 38,and then a massive stroke left him paralyzed in 1980. “The doctors toldus that he would never walk or talk again,” remembers Renee, Frankie’sdaughter. “He proved them wrong; soon he was back at work to mindthe store.”
Lauded as Miami’s oldest pizzeria, Frankie’s Pizza celebrated its53rd year in business on February 14. Consistently ranked as one ofthe top pizzerias in the city, Frankie’s also satisfies its faraway fansby offering “half-baked” pizzas all over the United States, thanks tonationwide shipping. Most importantly, the pizzeria, conceived as afamily affair, remains so until this day: Though Doreen and Frankpassed away in 2002 and 2005, respectively, daughters Roxanne andRenee help run the shop, and many customers have been loyal Frankie’sfollowers for so long that they, too, have become family. “My familyhas—and, hopefully, always will be—a good team,” says Renee. “It all justcomes very naturally; I guess that comes from doing itour whole lives.”