2023 Best of the Valley Restaurant Awards to Recognize the LaRocca Family
Event recognizes notable Central Valley restaurants in dozens of categories


May 10, 2023
Contact: Sharokina Shams ▪ 916-431-2749sshams@calrest.org
Contact: Raul Gutierrez ▪ 559-288-0968papismexgrill@gmail.com
Contact: Libby Guild ▪ 916-431-2731lguild@calrest.org

(Fresno, CA) – It’s almost time for the 2023 Best of the Valley Restaurant Awards, where this year, the LaRocca family will be recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award.  The event, presented by the Fresno Chapter of the California Restaurant Association, will also honor its first Hall of Fame inductees, Vincent Papagni and Ichiro Yoshino. Each year, the Best of the Valley Restaurant Awards names winners in a wide variety of restaurant categories, spotlighting local restaurants and the Valley residents who own and operate them.  

“On behalf of the entire LaRocca family, we would like to acknowledge and thank the CRA for nominating us with this great honor of the Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Pat LaRocca, owner of FIVE Restaurant. “We would like to thank the community for all your loyalty, support, generosity, and friendship over the last 40 years. We wish everyone many more wonderful years filled with happiness, health, pasta, and wine. Saluté!” 

Pat’s parents, Carmine and Giuseppina LaRocca were born and raised in Pacentro, Italy. Carmine immigrated to Canada in 1952, came to America in 1960 and lived in Detroit, Michigan with his wife and four children. In the summer of 1967, Carmine and Giuseppina moved to Fresno with their children to be closer to Giuseppina’s family, the DiCicco family. That’s where it all started, at DiCicco’s Italian Restaurant, where Carmine and Giuseppina learned all about the restaurant business. They opened LaRocca’s Ristorante Italiano in 1980, where they served the community for more than 30 years. They are survived by their children, Paul, Sonia, Pat and Virginia, who owns Ovidio Ristorante Italiano with her husband, Franco Paolilli.  

Hall of Fame inductees Papagni and Yoshino are being recognized posthumously for a lifetime of service in the restaurant and hospitality industry, as well as many years of involvement in the community.  

The Lifetime Achievement Award and the Hall of Fame honors are part of a much larger event: now for 30 years, the Best of the Valley Restaurant Awards recognize the area’s restaurants for excellence in each of dozens of categories, highlighting the large variety of available food and culinary arts in this region. This year, the community helped select nominees, with the final voting done by CRA members and the nominees themselves. 

“These restaurants really have a lot to be proud of,” said CRA Fresno Chapter President Raul Gutierrez. “The restaurants on this list were honored by the dining public, as well as by their own peers.” 

Tickets to the awards show are available to the news media and to the public. To make arrangements to attend the event as a journalist, please contact Sharokina Shams at 916-431-2749 or sshams@calrest.org. Attached is a complete list of nominees.

WHAT: 2023 Best of the Valley Restaurant Awards 

WHEN: Monday, May 22nd at 5 p.m.  

WHERE: DoubleTree by Hilton, 2233 Ventura St, Fresno, CA 93721 


About the California Restaurant Association: The California Restaurant Association provides ultimate access to the resources and support that restaurant professionals need to lead thriving businesses while serving as conscientious, contributing members of an unparalleled industry. California is home to more than 100,000 eating and drinking places that ring up more than $72 billion in sales and employ more than 1.6 million workers, making restaurants an indisputable driving force in the state’s economy.