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Cottontown business closes after offensive Facebook posts

A Cottontown pizza restaurant is closing after just seven months in operation.

Citta del Cotone, Italian for “town of cotton,” got off to a very rocky start after co-owner Rick Marzan stirred up an internet firestorm when he shared politically themed posts on his personal Facebook page that many found sexist and bigoted.

He and the pizzeria were pilloried on social media and a boycott was organized. The restaurant apologized and placed Marzan, a Columbia native and actor-turned-restaurateur, on an “indefinite leave of absence.”

Now, the restaurant has announced on Facebook that it is shuttering.

“We write this with sad news today,” it said. “Citta del Cotone will close for good Saturday June 15th. Please come join us Thursday, June 13th thru Saturday June 15th to get one last pizza.

“For those of you who have supported us thru these last 7 months, thank you!” it added. “And if you have never had a chance to try one of our pizzas, this will be your last opportunity! We wish everyone the best and thank you for your support!”

Citta del Cotone opened in November.

The restaurant was a partnership between Marzan and Za’s Pizza founder Tommy Price. Marzan formerly owned Noah’s Antica Pizzeria in Irmo.

Price could not be reached for comment.

Marzan said he was bought out and hasn’t been involved with the restaurant since April.

Rick Marzan, co-owner Citta Del Cotone
Former actor Rick Marzan is co-owner of the Citta Del Cotone restaurant in Cottontown with restauranteur Tommy Price. The pizzeria serves authentic Neopolitan pies Jeff Wilkinson jwilkinson@thestate.com

Some of Marzan’s Facebook shares bashed former President Barack Obama. Others were seen as homophobic. Some addressed the Christine Blasey Ford-Brett Kavanaugh controversy by belittling women who report sexual abuse. Ford, in front of Congress and news cameras, accused the now-confirmed Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh of sexual assault, which he denies.

One shared post showed an older woman comforting a younger one. “I’m so sorry that bad man touched you inappropriately,” it read. “Let’s wait 30 or 40 years (to report it) until he runs for office against a Democrat.”

Marzan was in charge of the kitchen at the Neapolitan-style, brick-oven Cottontown pizzeria. Price was an investor.

Marzan played baseball and football at the University of Kentucky, then studied acting in New York. He moved to Hollywood, where, with his baseball skills, he landed the role of Jose in the 1988 hit “Bull Durham” with Kevin Costner.

Marzan went on to play a recurring role as Camacho in seven episodes of “ER” in 1994 and 1995. He’s also appeared in films with the likes of Robert De Niro and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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Jeff Wilkinson has worked for The State for both too long and not long enough. He’s covered politics, city government, history, business, the military, marijuana and the Iraq War. Jeff knows the weird, wonderful and untold secrets of South Carolina. Buy him a shot and he’ll tell you all about them.
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