Come as you are – a window into the world of Mario Boccia

Mario Boccia – Entrepreneur and restaurateur with a passion for people and food.

Mario Boccia has always been a people person. At the young age of 15, his walk home from a friend’s house lead him past an elderly man who spent day after day on his porch, watching the world go by. Most 15-year-olds wouldn’t pay much attention. Not Mario. He not only noticed the senior, he would stop off and visit and soon became the recipient of the elder statesman’s counsel.

A life lesson and some insight into a special person, all at once.

Mario Boccia’s legendary attention to detail was developed in those formative years. The product of a traditional Italian-Canadian household, he began working part-time at Mr. Sub at 15 with plans to study mechanics. When the time came to enroll, he decided to follow a different path and joined Mr. Sub full time at 19. It was not long before he purchased the franchise from his boss.

That was the 1970s and ‘80s, and Mr. Sub was a well-oiled business model with strong financial performances. Boccia was a smooth operator and eventually ended up owning six of the franchises.

“It was at this point that I realized that I truly loved the hands-on contact with my customers” says Boccia. “When I owned six, I was managing my affairs in the back office most of the time and barely ever saw a customer.”

And so he sold off most of his franchises.

A Destination Restaurant – Pulcinella

Mario currently owns Toronto’s acclaimed Pulcinella Ristorante Italiano, a beloved neighbourhood restaurant in Toronto’s South Etobicoke area that attracts a loyal clientele from near and far.

“We have a very regular stable of customers. They come because they love enjoying long and quality meals in a pleasant and friendly environment.”

How did the operator of sandwich shops end up with a classy restaurant? Therein lies a story, once again rooted in his youth.

When Mario was a young man, he accompanied a date to one of Toronto’s upscale restaurants, La Scalla. Much to his surprise, he was rejected at the door for not wearing a jacket. Needless to say, Mario has never forgotten this moment, and he immediately resolved that if he were to open a restaurant one day, he would ensure that his restaurant would be open to all: welcoming and warm.

And that’s how La Pulcinella came into being, a wonderful neighborhood restaurant open to the world.

“Come as you are! Come as you feel! It’s all about the food and the people. Food is a true source of joy and enjoyment for everyone – certainly for me. “Yes, I’m a people person who enjoys the interactions I have with my guests on a daily basis. It warms my heart when they come up to me and compliment me on the food, the service or the staff because it elevates a dining experience to a social connection.”

And the compliments most certainly do keep coming at La Pulcinela, an oasis of regional Italian cooking of the upscale type as well as rustic. Open for lunch and dinner during the week and dinner on the weekends, Pulcinella Ristorante Italiano offers everything from seafood, meat, game along with fresh pastas and risottos and seasonal specials.

Will Mario Boccia be happy with his expansive host duties in his own, very comfortable, attention-to-all-details-restaurant? Does it end here? Perhaps not. He has always kept the faithful on tenterhooks and now, maybe, a new concept is in the offing…something to do with combining his two areas of expertise (food and people) into something new and extra special.

In the meantime, “A tavola. Mangiare. (Eat) “ “Enjoy.”

Mario Boccia has been a close client and partner of Alfio Pasquarelli since 2013. Pulcinella is located at 3687 Lake Shore Blvd W, Etobicoke, ON M8W 1P7. 


About Pasquarelli Management

Alfio Pasquarelli has built industry-leading retail brands through effective expansion and location strategies, on-premise marketing and positioning. With Pasquarelli, retail brands maximize their growth and success.


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