When it comes to pizza in Walpole, there are several places to whet your appetite.
Some sell slices, some sell XL pizzas.
Some deliver, some don't.
But there's only one place in Walpole where you can get almost anything on the menu covered with a special sauce all its own, and that's Rico's.
Since 2005, Rico's II Pizza and Subs, on Main Street, has gathered almost a cult following amongst Walpole's youth for their special Rebel sauce, a mixture of honey mustard and barbecue sauces and a blend of top secret spices.
“I think it’s the sweetness of the stuff. That’s the reason why a lot of the kids like it, because it’s not healthiest sub in the world,” said manager Peter Stathakis. “I think they like it because it’s a sense of pride, too, in Walpole. That’s what they get. Before the football games all the kids get Rebels, that’s what gets them hyped.”
Rico's has a designated spot on their menu with items that feature the Rebel sauce including subs, wraps, calzones and pizzas.
“It really takes us apart from all of the other similar pizza places," Stathakis said. "Our top seller along with the Rebel is the grilled chicken salad, but other places have that too. Nobody else can get a Rebel anywhere but Rico’s.”
Peter got the idea for the sauce when he was a sophomore in college in 2005.
“I actually used to go to this place when I was in college, I went to [college in Worcester], and they had this honey barbecue chicken. It wasn’t in a sub, it was just a side order.”
He tried it and brought it home for his dad, Taso, to try and they decided to make something similar at Rico’s.
“At first we never had it on the menu we had kids just try it, the local kids that we knew,” said Stathakis.
"When we first started selling it, it was just lettuce and blue cheese on the side. Now it evolved into bacon and mozzarella with the Greek dressing on the side, and that goes together like peanut butter and jelly.”
Now, Stathakis said they sell over 100 Rebels a day.
He said they are usually sold to high school students but “during lunch we have the industrial park, they’re starting to actually come around to the Rebel. They try it and they know it’s bad for them so they try to keep it to a minimum but they like it. But the high school kids, some kids everyday after school are getting a Rebel and not just Walpole, they come from all over to get it.”
Their biggest seller is the BJ Wrap named after two Walpole High School students Brandon and Johnny, who were the first to try it. It has chicken fingers, french fries, bacon, mozzarella cheese, Rebel sauce in a wrap with homemade Greek dressing on the side.
“That sells a ton. Kids come from all over. We have a group of kids come from Wrentham, the KP football team, Millis, kids from West Roxbury come down to eat it," he said.
But Rico's alliances are with Walpole. They regularly donate pizzas and money to Walpole schools and are avid supporters of the high school sports teams.
“Any time any high school team asks for a donation we go ahead and give it because we know that they’ll come back, especially for the kids because it's going to a good cause,” he said.
Their walls are covered in team photos of the Walpole football, hockey, basketball, soccer and gymnastics teams.
“Our family goes to the Thanksgiving game, we don’t even go to our hometowns, we go to the Walpole game because those are the kids we know,” he said. "We don’t do it just to show our face, we actually like these kids and we develop bonds, the kids come back from college and see us. We go to the basketball games, the football games, everything. Any chance we get we go to the games.”
Rico's II is owned by his father, his brother, Eric, his uncle, Jimmy, and himself. His family took over the restaurant in 1999.
The original Rico's is in North Attleboro.
“It’s good, good community, small," Peter said of being in Walpole. “A lot of people know each other. It’s a good mix of a crowd. You have a lot of businesses from other towns that come in and work here at the industrial park, there’s a lot of local people, everybody knows everybody.”