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As Charles “Charlie” Pecoraro cut the ribbon at a Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce ceremony June 12, he looked both happy and contented.

The new owner of The Dough Bar, 520 King St. in downtown Punta Gorda, finally found what he was looking for in retirement—a restaurant where he could serve the Italian food and pizza he enjoyed in New York.

After he sold his New York pizza and Italian restaurants in 2018, Pecoraro thought he was going to retire, and he moved to Southwest Florida in 2022. “I came here to relax,” he said.

But soon his retirement plans unraveled. For one thing, “I was getting bored, I can’t sit still,” he said.

Perhaps doing a bit of soul-searching, Pecoraro realized that what gave him joy was the passion he felt when “the fork meets the face, which lights up like Christmas—that’s my high.”

That became the driving force that led him to purchase The Dough Bar when it went up for sale last year.

A Navy veteran and Johnson & Wells University graduate, who also holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Kaplan University, Pecoraro has both the discipline of having served in the military and the business acumen, which allows him to succeed in business.

After the ribbon-cutting, guests sat down and feasted on a buffet that tasted like genuine Italian pizza, meatballs and pasta one remembers if they’ve ever eaten at New York and New Jersey restaurants.

Many patrons raved about the meatballs, which were dense and meaty and not filled with bread and other fillers.

A particular favorite is authentic Italian pizza made in a wood-fired oven, but for those preferring New York and New Jersey style “Boardwalk” pizzas, they are made in non-wood fire ovens.

The bar is heavily stocked with a multitude of liquors, beers and wine. “We have a full-service bar,” Pecoraro said. On June 12, it was filled with both guests and regulars who have found their version of “Cheers.”

What Pecoraro likes to talk about most is the quality of his food. “I serve veal, steak, fish,” he said. When asked how his chicken Marsala was, he said it was the area’s best and challenged anyone to make a better dish.

Looking around the crowded restaurant and bar, Pecoraro said, “I love this, it’s my passion.”

The Dough Bar provides catering services and hosts private parties. It has a combined inside and outside seating capacity of 155.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Copyright 2024 Gulfshore Life Media, LLC All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior written consent.

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