So I have an old friend who is a restaurateur in Calgary, Alberta, and his name is Rocky Bartolotti (goes by Rocco mostly though) and owns/operates his fine dining Italian restaurant in called Cinquecento Cucina. I just want to tell a touching story involving Rocky when he was a young teenager. The whole reason for this post is my way of paying back the favor he did for me when I first met him. These kinds of stories never seem to spread around enough. So here goes.
How I Met Rocky “Rocco” Bartolotti
Rocco has always been a fun loving guy and when we were kids growing up I could always count on him to show up when I needed him the most. The Bartolotti’s lived two doors down from us, and his parents were really good to our family (and all the families on the block actually), but I will NEVER forget Rocco because of how we met.
I was new to the neighborhood and a very awkward kid. I was 16 with thick glasses, acne, and various other traits that were NOT redeeming.
I was painfully shy, and wasn’t going anywhere fast in our new neighborhood, and especially going nowhere in my new school. I remember when I first met Rocco clearly still to this day. It was about the second week of school and there was some bigger guys two years older than me on my case. I was an easy target then being new, shy, and awkward. Their bullying was typical – lots of verbal insults at first and the some physical humiliation soon started with getting slammed into the lockers and having my books nabbed and throw in a puddle – typical bully stuff right. Nothing extraordinary really when you think about bullying.
Just when I was to the point of being terrified to even walk to school, it came to a head – it got much worse.
I was making my way to home room, which meant taking a short cut I always took through the back of the school through the gymnasium, and when I rounded the corner I felt a huge pressure blow to the back of my head, and the next thing I knew I was face down by the bleachers – and in shock. Before I could figure out what happened, I was being pulled back and thrown against the wall. You guessed it…..it was the two bullies (names will not be included here - they were just being stupid kids).
I tried to get away but I couldn’t. I would just get tossed again. I was really scared and in shock, and all I could think of was how dumb I was going to look in home room with a ripped up t-shirt and a bloody face. Finally I was down and not getting up because they had my shoulders pinned down. One boy was straddling me, and had my shoulders pinned with his knees, while the other was creating a new game called “how much gob can be spit in a human’s face in under 10 seconds”. I’ll never forget this because one of them had a really bad chest cold at the time – you get the disgusting picture right.
Just when I thought I had officially entered the hell realm, I a heard voice say,
“Yeah….that’s enough of that guys.”
Then I heard a couple of thumps and scuffling followed by my two assailants being thrown back off of me. There was two MORE older boys now and they were chasing my two bullies across the gym.
I quickly jumped up and hobbled into the boys bathroom to assess the damage. I got some paper towels soaked in water and began cleaning my face. That was when I finally began to cry. Sobbing. Then I was afraid again because I heard voices and footsteps coming into the bathroom. NOW I had to face more humiliation – now I will be the “new kid” caught crying like a little baby!
When the voices turned the corner, I could see it was the two boys who rescued me from the assault. Immediately I recognized them as the two older boys who lived two doors down from our house.
The shorter boy said, “Hey bud…you OK?”
I said nothing. I was too embarrassed.
The shorter boy spoke again, “Well you look alright. I have an extra gym t-shirt you can borrow from my PE (physical education) locker. I live two doors down from you you know - the house with the rusty van in the front. Don’t let it get to you – those two schmucks do that to every new kid if they can get away with it. Losers.”
That’s how I met Rocco. I’ll never forget that few moments of terror. I will also never forget that young boy who had the courage to stop something very wrong from happening.
Rocco Bartolotti and Gennaro Silvestri Charity Work
During the floods of 2013 in Calgary Rocco and Gennaro Silvestri went out and fed over 1800 people for free with their food truck. They were very happy to help these misplaced families as they watched helplessly as their homes were being destroyed by the raging waters. It was sad experience for sure, but it was very rewarding for Rocco and Gen to be there feeding hungry people. Nothing is quite as comforting a good Italian food, and nothing says “I care” more.
Rocky “Rocco” Bartolotti With The Wish Foundation
Rocco is an active volunteer and member of the Inglewood community of Calgary, Alberta and has had the pleasure in the past of working with the “Make a Wish Foundation” to raise money sending two families to Disneyland. The Make A Wish Foundation is a fantastic organization, and I remember talking to Rocco when he was involved in the project – he was very excited and wanted to make sure the families were well looked after.
Rocco Bartolotti Raising Money For The Children’s Hospital
Rocco was also excited to help out with the Children’s Hospital to raise money to buy toys for the hospital. The Bartolotti family has always been a caring entity in every community they have lived in, and Calgary is no exception.
I live a long way from Rocco, John, and the rest of their family now, and I’m not sure what they would think of me doing this, but I hope they see that my intentions are good. The Bartolotti family is a very generous and kind family. They were always there with open arms to help other families in need in our area of the city. If Rocky or John (or any of the Bartolotti family) are reading this;
Hiya from Pidgeon!!!
Picture of Rocco Bartolotti and Gennaro Silvestri
Article About Rocco Bartolotti Where This Picture Came From
Rocco and Gennaro at Cinguecento Cucina