Summer bocce returns at MVR in Youngstown, along with indoor dining


The restaurant has new safety protocols in place for dine-in customers and bocce players

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – For over 75 years, Cassese’s MVR has been a staple restaurant in the Mahoning Valley. Just like other restaurants, they were only allowed to do take-out orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. In-restaurant dining started this past weekend and now, they are working to get back to some sense of normalcy.

For the MVR, it was tough not being able to have indoor dining during the pandemic.

“So if you had this entire store with all of these goods and the only thing you could do with paint was sell paint — that’s really what it was, we could only do carry out,” said Joe Cassese.

Cassese said they waited a little longer to open their doors because they needed more time to prepare.

“We were at the point, from a viability standpoint, where we had to open our doors,” Cassese said.

Now, the restaurant has plexiglass set up around the bar areas. They’re also sitting people at every other booth and limiting seating in their dining room.

“We want them to be in an environment that they’re comfortable in but also let them know that hey, we all have to get back to just doing a lot of the things that we were used to doing,” Cassese said.

One of the main summer attractions for the MVR is bocce. Each ball is numbered so the same person uses the same ball throughout the game. They also added a handwashing station near the courts where the bocce balls can also be sanitized.

“So if you’re in a game and you have ball one and the game ends and the next person in is going to have that ball, green ball number one, they can simply walk right over to the station and there’s soap and there’s water and they wash it off. There’s a better comfort level when they’re playing bocce,” Cassese said.

Tuesday night was the second night of bocce. Even though it was a great chance to see everyone again, people still tried to respect each other’s personal space.

“People are not hugging each other or even hitting their hands, it’s a fist bump instead of slapping hands so people are obviously aware of it,” said bocce player Dave Olexa.

Cassese said some teams chose not to play bocce this summer, but they will hold a spot for them come next year.

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