Grotto Pizza Purchases Iconic Dolle’s Property In Rehoboth

Grotto Pizza,  based in Rehoboth Beach since 1960, with locations in Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, announced today their recent purchase of Dolle’s Realty, Inc., an iconic oceanfront property located at the corner of One Rehoboth Avenue and the Boardwalk.

Grotto Pizza currently owns the Boardwalk property north of Dolle’s that stretches to Baltimore Avenue. Dominick Pulieri, Grotto Pizza founder, stated that he was “excited to be able to acquire this property. Grotto Pizza has not yet developed specific plans for the property. However, Grotto Pizza plans to relocate its North Boardwalk restaurant on the corner of Baltimore Avenue, one block south to the corner of Rehoboth Avenue.”

Jeff Gosnear, Vice President of Grotto Pizza shared that, “looking through the lens of Grotto Pizza commercial development and expansion, we felt this once-in-a-lifetime real estate opportunity was extremely important to the organization. The Dolle’s building is truly one of the most desirable properties in Delmarva and our team is looking forward to reconfiguring and outfitting the space to include a brand-new Grotto Pizza.”

In December the owner of the iconic Dolle’s saltwater taffy shop announced that he would be moving his business after nearly 100 years at the boardwalk location.

At the time, Dolle’s owner Tom Ibach told the Cape Gazette that his lease on the property expired at the end of January 2020.  Although the new Dolle’s location will be just 100 feet to the west the fate of the iconic sign is unknown. Ibach said in December that he was planning on taking it down despite an agreement that would keep the sign up through 2021.  In a post on Grotto’s Facebook page, the company responded to a comment regarding the sign, telling readers “We’re working with Tom Ibach to keep the sign up through 2021.”

Grotto Pizza recently celebrated its 60th year in business and is set to open a 23rd location in Millsboro this Spring. The instantly recognizable pizza swirl – a combination of sweet tomato sauce and a blend of cheeses – has been baked into the dining traditions of Delaware beach vacationers for decades, and the roots of the story all trace back to the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk and Rehoboth Ave. Dominick Pulieri first started making pizzas with his brother-in-law, Joseph Paglianite, at his pizza restaurant in Harvey’s Lake, PA. Looking for a way to fund his college tuition, Pulieri ventured to Rehoboth Beach, DE, in 1960 to open a pizza restaurant with his sister, Mary Jean, and his brother-in-law Joe – which became Grotto Pizza. In 1963, Grotto Pizza opened a second location along the boardwalk, but remained a seasonal operation as Pulieri taught school in Smyrna during the year. Pulieri opened Grotto Pizza as a year-round restaurant in 1974 to meet the growing demands of his guests.

“We’re thankful for the opportunity to relocate our business to a location that’s so memorable to all who live, visit, or work in Rehoboth Beach,” said Pulieri. “Tradition, hospitality and community are the core ingredients of the Grotto experience and we’re thankful to all who continually invite us to join in their dining traditions. Cheers to a brighter 2021 and thank you for your business!”

Grottos say current leases will be honored, and the Dolle’s storefront will be available for lease in the short term.

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First State Update's Delaware editorial team covers New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County breaking news, political news, and general news stories. We bring the reader the latest news from the Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Rehoboth Beach and all point in between. If you have news to share, email us at desk@firststateupdate.com.

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