ISO A Classy Sailor

ISO A Classy Sailor
ISO A Classy Sailor
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The Chiocca family moved from Italy and settled in Richmond in 1893, and Mario Chiocca, original owner, opened Chiocca’s on Belmont in 1952 in the wonky, little basement that had previously been home to a confectionery. Tim and Carla Chiocca (son and daughter of Mario) took over the business in 1977.


Mario Chiocca with son, Tim

Scott Ripley purchased Chiocca’s 4 years ago and maintains the Chiocca family tradition. Even ‘Peggy,’ (the gas powered Star Broiler oven named after Mario’s wife who died when Tim and Carla were very young, and purchased used by Mario upon opening Chiocca’s), still pumps out their classic sandwiches day after day. Since ‘Peggy’ can only accommodate 3 sandwiches at a time, occasionally there is a wait.  But you won’t hear any complaints.


 And, they claim to have the coldest beer in Richmond. If you ask how they know the reply will be, “because it is.”


To a roster of regulars, Chiocca’s is home. With its low lights, red booths, and walls covered with photographs, this space is cozy and familiar.


It has been called the “gossip center of Richmond,” “the best place to have an affair,” and “The Catholic Underground.”  It had been decades since I had last been in, but on my recent visit a flood of memories took over. Time stood still.  With the exception of the jukeboxes at each booth, everything was exactly the same.


Hi, sailor!


I knew instantly what I was going to order: the Sailor sandwich.  And same as it ever was–so, so good. Juicy and perfectly seasoned beer broiled Knockwurst; generous, tender slices (hand sliced) of melt-in-your-mouth pastrami with Swiss cheese and mustard between fresh rye bread sliced to exactly the proper thickness with the perfect toastedness.  After porridge, chairs and beds, Goldilocks can add this Sailor sandwich as “just right” to her sequence.

1 Comment

  1. A quick correction, the picture is actually Mario (my grandfather) and my mom (Sharon Lee Chiocca) the oldest of Mario and Peggy’s kids. Sharon lives in NJ happily married to Bill Sweeney, 2 Kids with a number of grand kids who remember spending time in Chioccas (the restaurant) growing up, best sandwiches ever!!! Timmy & Carla are my aunt and uncle both a younger than mom. Hopefully the tradition will continue…where good friends meet.

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