The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
Owners Jason and Michael Brunetti knew that they needed Luis Aguilar, Westhampton Beach’s veteran pizzaiolo, to oversee the new operation and train the new staff. “We couldn’t open a new store without Luis,” Jason said, “but without him in Westhampton, we were worried about the quality of the pies. I’d rather close for a few weeks than serve a pie that’s not up to our standards.”
I paid a visit to the new Brunetti over the weekend and am happy to report that Suffolk’s supernal vongole bianca, white clam pizza, is now available in New York County: same delicious crust, same littleneck clams from Cor-J Seafood in Hampton Bays.
What’s different about the Manhattan location? Aside from the pizza, pretty much everything. The Westhampton Beach store is basically a wood-burning oven, two narrow counters and some Ikea stools. In Manhattan, there’s a rustic-elegant dining room and a charming garden. There are servers and plates and good stemware and an actual printed menu.
The menu features 18 pizzas. In addition to the clam ($20), we enjoyed a Monte Vesuvio with imported hay-smoked mozzarella di bufala and dried-on-the-vine piennolo tomatoes ($20).
Now that they have an actual kitchen, the Brunettis (and new partner Anthony Abenante) have hired a chef, Gerardo Guarino, who expands on the pizzas’ Neapolitan theme with a full slate of salads, salumi, sides and small plates, including Moscardini alla Luciana, fork-tender baby octopus braised with tomatoes, tiny Taggiasca and capers and served with fregola pasta ($17). He’s also an accomplished pastry chef, as evidenced by his textbook torta Caprese (flourless chocolate-walnut cake).
Jason Brunetti said it should take Aguilar just a few weeks to get the new pizza crew up to speed. At that point, the original pizzeria will reopen at 103 Main St., Westhampton Beach, 631-288-3003. In Manhattan, Pizzetteria Brunetti is at 626 Hudson St., 212-255-5699.