Family, community, and a very solid, consistent product are what have made Michelangelo’s a success, according to owner J.R. Rosales. Also having someone to prove wrong always helps. That was part of the motivation when Rosales was told that Clovis is a tough market and that he wouldn’t make it.
Rosales has owned Michelangelo’s Pizzeria for nearly 16 years. It was tough to start, as businesses always are. But in Rosales’ case, he was up to the challenge. He didn’t even originally plan on starting in Clovis. Perhaps it was fate then, that led him to being shown one more spot by his realtor after seeing several that he didn’t like in Fresno. “I just fell in love with it,” Rosales said of his first time seeing the location. “I love a small town,” he said. “They’re the reason we’ve been here 16 years. I couldn’t think of a better place than Clovis to have my business.”
Rosales said he doesn’t rely on advertising, but rather, word of mouth and letting the product speak for itself. People seeing for themselves and telling their friends or family about it, carries more weight than advertisement.”
“People tell me I have the best calzones,” he said. That may be because they are made to order - always fresh with whatever ingredients you want, never from pre-made mixes. I ordered mine in the “Make it the Mo” style that comes topped with olive oil, fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil and Parmesan cheese. You can choose up to eight toppings for the base price, from a list of about 20 options. A list, by the way, that includes among other things: spaghetti, chorizo and nopal - a prickly pear cactus pad, common in Mexican food, but not often seen on a pizza menu. This is where the Mexican flare comes in that adds a little something unique to Michelangelo’s.
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“People often ask”, Rosales said, “You’re Mexican and you have an Italian restaurant?” His answer to that is essentially: “Yeah, so what?” He certainly has the knowledge and ability. He worked 27 years for Me-n-Ed’s before retiring to open Michelangelo’s, the majority of that time spent in management and quality control. Rest assured, the man knows his way around a pizza.
Michelangelo’s has an extensive beer selection to complement their menu. They offer about 12 beers on tap as well as many more craft beers available in bottles. It’s Rosales’s son and bar manager, Diego that was influential in this part of the business’s development. Rosales said it has certainly paid off and is amazed at some customers’ passion for craft beer. It’s been an education for Rosales, learning about craft beer, but he says it’s been great for them to be able to offer great beer with their already great food. It has attracted new customers but also caught the attention of many regular customers who were previously unacquainted with craft beers.
Rosales, it seems, gets more excited about his business as time goes on. He loves working with his family, he loves making good food and he absolutely loves being a part of Clovis.
“We’ve grown with the community,” Rosales said. “I have no regrets.”
Rosales is endlessly grateful to Clovis and is happy to give back. That is why every year in September, the restaurant’s anniversary month, Michelangelo’s hosts a golf tournament that raises money for Make-A-Wish. They raise thousands of dollars for the charity every September. Last year, they closed the street for the fundraising event at the restaurant. It was their biggest yet, with 150 people who signed up for the tournament in attendance with their families. This year, they expect it to be even bigger.
If you go on a Friday or Saturday night, be prepared for it to be busy. However, during the week, or for lunch, you’ll be golden. Michelangelo’s is located in Old Town Clovis on Woodworth and Bullard and is open for lunch and dinner every day.