The original Roca Bar opened in 1943, and the menu did not include pizza. A decade later, the famous Roca Bar Pizza was introduced to the city. The popular low-profile pizza-and-more restaurant flourished through the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, holding its own when the national map became inundated with pizza chains and mass-produced red sauce.
Roca Bar, the creation of John Rogers and Earl Carter, was known for its odd-shaped crusts and big dollops of ground beef and sausage. While most of the chains were cranking out round pizzas, and a few tinkered with square ones, the Roca Bar recipe called for a free-form pizza that was stretched to “just right” proportions, even if the result looked more like a map of New York state than a circle.
Although today’s pizzas are the more expected shape in traditional sizes, current owners of the Kentucky Avenue Roca Bar, Jerry Ritter and Fred Schroeder, have stayed with the tried-and-true recipes for years.