Think of Somers Point and several dining establishments likely come to mind that are synonymous with success, some of which have been around for decades and are into their third or fourth generation of same-family ownership.
If Micchelli’s Pizza is not on most people’s list, it should be, although the current owner, Jose Herrera, did not follow a family bloodline. Instead he saved up enough from kitchen work to buy out the founder, maintained the same high quality of service and product that Bill Micchelli first created, then grew the company.
“Bill Micchelli opened the first Micchelli’s Pizza in Margate in 1989 and was there for about 10 years,” says Micchelli’s manager George Roome. “In 1999 he moved the business to Somers Point and Herrera joined him shortly thereafter as a cook.
“Around 2009 Bill wanted out, and Jose, with the help of his family, scraped together enough money for a down payment to buy the restaurant, then paid (Micchelli) the balance within about three years.”
Herrera also bought out Micchelli’s sister location in Egg Harbor Township in 2014 and, when an empty storefront adjacent to the Somers Point store became available in 2016, purchased that and opened El Tipico, a taqueria offering authentic cuisine from the Oaxaca region of Mexico, where Herrera and his family are from.
“He did all of this through hard work, hands-on experience, and being very smart and shrewd,” says Roome, who befriended Herrera as a fellow Micchelli’s employee in 2001, then became his restaurant manager when Herrera became owner.
The cornerstone to Micchelli’s success, says Roome — and a business component that dates back to its early roots in Margate — is using daily-delivered mozzarella from the Grande Cheese Company of Wisconsin, which can trace its roots to Montelepre, Sicily.
“We make our own sauces and dough from scratch, buy the highest quality mozzarella you can buy, and grate it fresh every day,” Roome says. “So often we have sales people telling us they can save us cost on our mozzarella, and it’s true that they could, but we refuse to do that. Grande cheese is the finest quality and has been used at Micchelli’s since day one. That will never change. The cheese is the most important part of a pizza, and we don’t skimp on the mozzarella.”
Pizza may be what Micchelli’s is best known for — ranging from a small cheese pie ($7.95) to any one of two dozen specialty pizzas, including the Micchelli Special ($20.25 for a large) topped with artichokes, mushrooms and prosciutto — but their menu offers many options.
The restaurant’s ample selection of sandwiches and subs includes its signature cheesesteak, featuring pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers and fried onions ($8.75 for half, $17.50 for whole); the grilled chicken Florentine sandwich ($7) topped with spinach, mushrooms and sharp provolone; and a choice between chicken, veal, sausage, meatball or eggplant parm subs (each $7.75 for half, $15.50 for whole).
“We slice our pepperoni fresh daily, we make our own meatballs and sausage in house, and all the produce we use is delivered fresh and hand chopped daily,” Roome says.
Micchelli’s also offers a plethora of pasta dishes, such as its homemade lasagna ($11.25), red or white linguini with clam sauce ($13.50), lobster ravioli with vodka sauce ($12.50), and several non-pasta entrees with Italian twists.
Among its 10 land-lubber selections are the veal Florentine ($14.95) topped with sauteed spinach, mozzarella and homemade marinara; and the eggplant rollatini ($13.95), which is grilled eggplant rolled with ricotta and topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella. Eight seafood entrees include the blackened shrimp Alfredo ($14.95) topped with a creamy cheese sauce; the shrimp scampi ($14.95) served in a garlic butter sauce; and either shrimp or flounder Parmigiana (each $14.95).
Daily lunch specials, which often include items not always found on the fixed menu, are available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.