Life is a funny thing. Ron Ramieri grew up in Providence and earned an MBA in accounting from Bryant University. He was groomed to crunch numbers for the rest of his life. “I was fine with accounting,” he recalls, “but it just ended up being not the right thing.”
Then he started helping out his brother-in-law, who owned a bakery in Cranston. Curiously, the bakery was named after Ramieri’s mother, whose maiden name was Calvitto. They worked closely together, and in 1992, they took over a lackluster pizzeria in a Narragansett shopping plaza. Two years later, Ramieri and his family moved into town. And not long after that, Ramieri took over the South County location, renamed it “Colvitto’s” – after his daughter’s adorable mispronunciation – and today, nearly three decades later, his little shop is a pillar of the community.
“To me, it was a no-brainer,” recalls Ramieri. The space that became Colvitto’s was located right next to a Blockbuster rental store, which struck him as a perfect pairing. Meanwhile, his brother-in-law’s specialties were new to the area. “There was no bakery that sold what we sold. There was no cold pizza down here. There was no place that sold Italian bread.”
Ramieri’s whole family has cycled through the business; before they even opened, his wife Jeanne was placing mysterious teasers in local publications. His sister Rosemary has served as general manager, and his children have all been active in the kitchen. Over the years, they have created a diverse menu of baked goods, from cannoli and sfogliatella to multigrain bread and Mediterranean orzo.
Colvitto’s popularity spikes during Christmas and the Super Bowl, and a tidal wave of customers flows through the restaurant every summer. Ramieri is proud of his “cold pizza” strips, which are portable and beach-ready, plus the many calzones and savory pies that await the hungry tourist. Yet the most legendary dish is the party pizza, a sprawling rectangle of homemade sauce and dough.
After so many years in town, Ramieri has seen an entire generation of people come through his establishment, and he’s been able to sponsor local organizations, particularly the local Lions Club. Ramieri is talkative and upbeat, and he’s quick to compliment his youngest employees, who labor dutifully all through the high season. It’s hard to imagine him slumped over a calculator, tabulating accounts; here in the Colvitto’s dining room, waving to familiar customers, Ramieri is in his element. “The community’s obviously been good to us, too,” he says with a chuckle. “I mean, we’re still here.”