Slices of fame

Union City/North Bergen photographer’s famous photos line pizzeria

Customers pay for takeout dinners. Pizza deliverymen hurry into the store for hot pies to whisk off to local addresses. High school and college-age cashiers take orders at the register. That’s the scene most evenings at the Mona Lisa Pizzeria on Broadway near Fifth Street in Bayonne.
But what many do not see is a virtual history of pop culture on the walls behind and above them. The late Dominick DeMarsico, grandfather of Mona Lisa owner Chris Cocchi, was born in Union City and lived in Jersey City and North Bergen. As a photographer with New York City newspapers and the New York City Mayor’s Office, DeMarsico met, photographed, and was photographed with some of the most noteworthy political figures of the 20th century, including Presidents John F. Kennedy, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Jimmy Carter, New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, and New York City Mayor Abraham Beame.

“I think he was the most proud when he met President Kennedy.” – Rosann DeMarsico
DeMarsico also met musicians like Frank Sinatra and John Lennon, and actors like Gregory Peck, Spencer Tracy, and Carroll O’Connor, who were the faces of old-time Hollywood, as well as comic actors like Soupy Sales, Jimmy Durante, and Carol Channing.
Sports luminaries also show up on the wall, including boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, and baseball legend Yogi Berra.
“I think he was the most proud when he met President Kennedy,” said Rosann DeMarsico, Dominick’s daughter and Cocchi’s mother.
“And, of course, Frank Sinatra, because they were born and raised in practically the same area,” she added of the Hoboken native.
So the next time you’re in the Mona Lisa for a slice, take in some history and pay homage to a Hudson County boy who made good.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at

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