Rockridge Deli and Florist is celebrating 40 years as Rye’s go-to spot for residents with a hankering for mouthwatering Crazy Combo wedges or lovely seasonal plants.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
Rockridge Deli and Florist is celebrating 40 years as Rye’s go-to spot for residents with a hankering for mouthwatering Crazy Combo wedges or lovely seasonal plants. The family behind the neighborhood landmark at 280 Purchase Street is the Lagana clan, Rocco and his wife Gemma, along with children Lorenzo and Brigit, who grew up at Rockridge and now have families of their own.
“It’s like ‘Cheers’ here, where everybody knows your name,” said Brigit. “Our customers have known us since we were kids and we’ve seen their families grow up.”
“It’s nice to see so many loyal customers still coming after so many years,” added Lorenzo, whose wife Valerie is the familiar face behind the cash register. “I’ve always enjoyed working here with the change of seasons.”
Autumn is particularly vibrant at Rockridge. While a myriad of annuals and perennials are on display in the spring, chrysanthemums in all colors are in full bloom and pumpkins of all sizes are on display in the fall — a few prizewinners weigh in at 125 pounds. Their ornate pumpkin floral arrangements make festive centerpieces this time of year. Of course, mini gourds, Indian corn, fall hay, and miniature pines are on hand.
Inside, there are always plenty of houseplants, currently multi-colored calla lilies, bromeliads, cyclamen, Kalanchoe, peace lilies, African violets, and Phalaenopsis orchids.
All in the family here, Maria Torelli, Gemma’s sister, heads up the full-service florist with many varieties of fresh-cut flowers.
“I started by helping out and ended up staying,” she recalled about her first day at Rockridge ten years ago. It turned out she has a green thumb, a good eye for color, and a creative flair. Best sellers include her hydrangea and rose centerpieces. A member of the Teleflora network, Rockridge Flowers delivers nationwide.
Autumn brings out the best in the edible side of Rockridge, too. On weekends, their fresh baked apple pies warm the heart. Pumpkin and pecan pies are available for Thanksgiving. The deli always offers a full breakfast menu that includes a wide array of egg sandwiches, steak sandwiches, bagels, and French toast every morning. Lunch selections include cold and hot sandwiches, hot dishes, tortilla wraps, and soups. Fresh mozzarella is delivered daily from Arthur Avenue.
A few of their signature Crazy Combos are: the Jackie Gleason with meatballs and peppers; the Clint Eastwood with hot turkey, melted cheese and bacon; and the Balboa with hot roast beef and Swiss cheese on garlic bread. Many a Rye Country Day student has had a Crazy Combo named for him/her. All it takes is enough kids asking for the very combo a friend has concocted. The latest is the Ferraro, a chicken cutlet with bacon, egg, cheese, and hot sauce. Leave it to the young palate!
Not to get ahead of this spectacular fall, Rockridge also sells natural firewood in bulk or by bundles. It is seasoned a minimum of eight months and delivered and stacked at no charge. Their Christmas trees, poinsettias, and wreaths will be arriving before too long as well.
In the meantime, stop by for a fresh morning muffin, a hot cup of coffee, and a chat with one of the Laganas. Chances are you already know their names.