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Joe’s Pizza Brings a Taste of Brooklyn Pizza to New Bethlehem for Nearly 23 Years

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 @ 12:09 AM

Posted by Ron Wilshire

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT) – Joe and Rosalba Monteleone were born in Italy, grew up and lived in Brooklyn, New York, but they found their home in New Bethlehem.

(Pictured above: Joe, Rosalba, and Sal Monteleone, along with former employee Chris Merwin in front of the faithful pizza oven.)

Joe’s Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant at 710 Broad Street has been in operation for 23 years this coming January and is an American success story.

Joe came to Brooklyn from Italy when he was 16 and Rosa when she was four. Joe started making pizza with friends when he arrived, but years later after the two married, Joe was laid off from his job at a gas company in 1998.

The couple decided to start their own business.

“We were looking for a place and at the time Joe’s cousin, Vinny, was in Clarion,” Rosa said. “Joe talked to Vinny about a business and Joe’s uncle also worked for Vinny. Vinny’s sister Connie and her husband Vito also operated a pizzeria in Knox for many years.”

Joe came to New Bethlehem in October of 1998, and the business officially opened the following January.

Joe’s pizza was located next to the First United Bank in the building complex on Broad Street. Following the FUN Bank’s move to another location in New Bethlehem, Joe’s expanded into that space because they needed a “little” more space for the growing business.

“You have to like your customers, you have to be very appreciative,” said Rosalba about their success. “You have to be supportive of your community because they are very supportive of us.

“When we first moved here, I cried every day because I missed New York, not realizing how friendly and how giving the people in this area are. They helped me with my kids and picked them up and took them to practice. My kids never missed out on anything because people were so good to us.

“They welcomed us with open arms, and they’ve been great ever since, and they’ve supported us through COVID. You have got to give back, and we love to help the kids and anything in town. So, you have to always give back. You have to be thankful and grateful.”

Joe and Rosalba have three sons and their oldest, Sal, works at the restaurant.

Over the years they have updated their store and with the current addition, a full-size bar and wide-screen TV are in progress. Groups such as the Lions and other groups and parties are held there. Joe’s also now offers catering.

Rosalba is the kitchen mostly and takes care of food, and Joe takes charge of the pizza and the bread.

“Most of my workers are people who have been with me at least ten years,” said Rosalba about her employees. “I’ve had a good crew over the years. Some are now lawyers, doctors, and state troopers. I’ve had a great career. I’ve been blessed with my workers. Like all businesses nowadays, it’s getting harder to hire good people, but we’ve been fortunate, and I’m blessed.”

(Pictured above: Joe, Rosalba, and Sal display some of the changes in the bar area.)

As Rosalba was being interviewed, she mentioned that an old employee and friend of her son, Chris Merwin, was visiting. Chris is a lawyer practicing with Mark Aaron in Clarion.

There are six to eight employees.

While pizza is on the sign, Joe’s is a full Italian Restaurant with a broad menu.

“We have our regulars. You become friends with everyone. You know, I’m here a long time. My kids grew up here between sports and everything else. You make a lot of friends, you know? Very good people. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

“You would never think that because when I first moved here I felt so out of my zone. Yeah. And you know, I was so out of my zone, and I didn’t know where anything was. And then, little by little, I started to learn how to get to Pittsburgh and all these things.”

Both of their families still live in Brooklyn, and they are only six hours away.

“My kids loved it here. There was so much more to do. It was so different than raising them in Brooklyn. Brooklyn has changed and isn’t like when I grew up. I love the people here and the community.”

Rosalba said her employees have been loyal and continue to visit long after they work there.

“I have one girl that was with me for 13 years and now she has her own restaurant. I have one waitress that has been with me from the beginning and even though she has another job, she still comes in a few days a week part-time to help us out. We try to treat everybody fairly, and you have to respect your employees to earn their respect.”

Rosalba admits that the hardest thing for their business is that the supply chain for products is so slow, even though they have many different suppliers.

There is more competition for pizza in the New Bethlehem area, but that doesn’t worry her.

“The more New Bethlehem expands, the better it is for everybody because it keeps everybody in town. The more places open here, the more people stay in town. Every year I think we’re busy and then we get busier the next year.“

Joe’s doesn’t accept credit or debit cards and doesn’t deliver, but plenty of people are willing to bring themselves and cash to see the friendly staff and hear Joe’s boisterous voice offering greetings and orders in part Italian and part Redbankese. You know you are at an authentic Italian Restaurant.

It’s either that or you accidentally stepped through a portal and you’re in Brooklyn.

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