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Rochesterians crave culinary creativity and local restauranteur Mark Cupolo serves it up at his intimate seafood and wine bar Rella, a second course to his beloved Italian bistro Rocco.


The Penfield native developed a taste for the restaurant business starting at age 14. He learned from some of the best fine dining establishments in Greater ROC and the Culinary Institute of America before taking his talents to Boston for 10 years. He then returned to break bread and new ground with the family and friends who have supported him throughout his successful career.


“It was too competitive [in Boston]. I was ready to come back here to open my own restaurant.”


Mark grew a loyal following from his time at Water Street Grill, Victor Grilling Company and Max Chophouse. When he opened Rocco in 2008, diners flocked there for authentic old-world fare. But he had a vision for another venture, as well.

 “I wanted to do something completely different.”

My inspiration was a restaurant in Phoenix called Pizzeria Bianco. It’s very simple. All they do is pizza, two appetizers, two desserts. There was something about it that struck me, the simplicity of it.”


A unique space on Monroe Avenue caught Mark’s eye and he thought it would be perfect for his simple-concept eatery Rella. But instead of pizza, he decided a seafood counter would appeal to the region’s foodies.


“Seafood and oysters are sort of my makeup. And that bar is magic. Sitting in there with our patrons, it's like a Cheers kind of thing.”


What Mark likes about being in Rochester is “it’s easy to get around, easy to afford, easy to do everything here compared to a big city.”


From walking around Cobbs Hill Park to enjoying the Finger Lakes wine region to watching sunsets and airplanes, he finds it all amazing. “I go every single morning and maybe another trip during the day to the airport because I’m a plane spotter. I park in one of the hotel lots, and those planes come in and I feel like I can touch them. I love that.”

The more you look, the more you’ll find of interest in Greater Rochester. Our Greater ROC website and social media channels capture a lot, but that doesn’t compare to your firsthand exploration. In upcoming blogs, we’ll be rounding out our final two subjects featured in the Greater Than You Know video: Quantum Sails Rochester and Cornell AgriTech.  
Keep checking our website for updates and continue to connect with us Instagram, Facebook, X and LinkedIn.


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