Do Not Touch Pete Ciarrocchi’s Hair

It really pisses him off. Plus, the the Chickie’s and Pete’s owner tells us about his trip to the Vatican, his Italian heritage (again and again), and the two times he broke the law (that we know of).

My name is … Pete Ciarrocchi. Everyone thinks I’m related to Pat. It’s Abruzzi and means “clear eyes” in Italian.

I am … a workaholic.

The last book I read cover to cover … was Charlotte’s Web. In third grade.

My secret talent is … dancing on Broad Street on New Year’s Day. I am a dancing member of the Polish American String Band.

I drive a … Cadillac Escalade. No, not the hybrid.

The farthest I have been from Philadelphia … was Italy. In 2010, I won a trip to Tuscany at an auction for Penn Charter. Me, my wife, my three sons and my in-laws. We went to Mass at the Vatican for Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. It was an incredibly spiritual experience.

The “Chickie” in “Chickie’s and Pete’s” … was my mom. She got top billing. She was about five inches taller than my dad, Pete Sr.

I wish that Philadelphia was more like … New Orleans. It has indigenous music and its own sound. So does Philadelphia—we have the Mummers and “The Sound of Philadelphia”—but we don’t play it up enough.

The fastest I’ve ever driven … was 140 on the Atlantic City Expressway. I was driving a loaner Lamborghini from F.C. Kerbeck.

If you come to my house for dinner … you are in for a treat. My wife makes some of the finest gravy of any non-Italian woman. She may be German-Irish, but she can really whoop up a pot of gravy.

My first concert … was Grand Funk Railroad at the Spectrum. Woo-hoo! I was 14 or 15.

When I want to celebrate … I go to Peter Luger Steak House in New York.

On Sunday mornings … I listen to Sid Mark’s The Sounds of Sinatra on 1210 and read the newspaper. I listen to Frank every Sunday. My father listened to Frank every Sunday. And now my children listen to Frank every Sunday.

The most famous person I have ever met … was Ernest Borgnine, who was a big fan of the red mussels at Chickie’s and Pete’s. I loved him in The Dirty Dozen. Such a great movie.

The last time I gambled … I lost. I called in a bet for the Super Bowl. Redskins, Broncos. I picked the Broncos.

My favorite sport to play … is football. I played in high school. It’s like no other sport. You’re in the trenches, going to war. It’s brutal. I broke my leg the last game of the season, and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

One song I have to crank up … is “Tumbling Dice” by the Rolling Stones, the only rock band I ever followed. I was always more into African-American music. Soul.

If I’m going to have one drink … it will be a Dewar’s and soda.

The best thing on TV … is Storage Wars. Or any kind of Wars reality show.

If I weren’t doing this … I’d be a union carpenter or bricklayer or electrician. That’s what all my friends wound up doing: being contractors.

My favorite sandwich … was an Italian lunch-meat hoagie. But these days, I am gluten-free.

If you really want to piss me off … mess with my hair. It’s lame, I know. But it’s an Italian thing.