After 48 years, Aegean Pizza will close its doors at the Sun Vet mall in Holbrook. Longtime customers are showing their support during its final days in business. Steve Langford reports. Credit: James Carbone

From the outside, the Sun Vet Mall along Sunrise Highway in Holbrook looks almost lost to time — its signage weathered, many of its storefronts shuttered, the parking lot mostly empty.

Which makes it a surprise to see a steady stream of people walking in and out of an entrance. A few steps inside, they line up in front of one of the last open storefronts, Aegean Pizza & Restaurant, which has slung slices here since 1974 and is due to close for good on Saturday. 

“It is with great sadness but also joy for the extraordinary five decades we have had, that we write today to let you know that our beloved Aegean Pizza will close its doors permanently," reads a notice on their website and Facebook page, thanking customers on behalf of owners John Zaoutis and Harry Rossis, as well as founder Louie Zaoutis, “who has retired in Greece.”

The post unlocked a flurry of memories on Facebook from people who had been going to Aegean for much of their lives and, no matter how far they moved, made a point to stop in for a Grandma slice or a chicken parm hero.

This week, during Aegean’s waning days, they queued by the dozens in front of the counter or waited patiently next to a towering stack of pizza boxes for one last meal in the back dining room.

“When I was pregnant with my daughter, we had one car, and this was my outing,” said Bridget Marrotte, who had driven from Long Beach with her husband and was waiting in line for a final slice Wednesday. Back then, in the mid-'70s, Marrotte lived in Medford and did her food shopping at Pathmark, a few doors down. “I’d shop, then bring a slice home to my husband.”

That Pathmark is long closed, but its sign still hangs above the locked doors. Most of the other shops here are also closed — including flagships such as Toys R Us and Caldor — with metal grating blocking a deserted main artery still filled with faux ficus trees, empty benches and sunlight.

The quasi-abandoned vibe makes the rich aromas and buzz emanating from Aegean all the more striking. The response to the pizzeria’s closure has been so overwhelming that the staff ran out of food at least once and closed Monday to restock.

Once the doors reopened, the line promptly built again. In a land of a million and one cheese slices, Aegean’s stood out: Floppy, oily, the crust pliable and dusty with flour, each slice blanketed with so much mozzarella that it oozes this way and that as you eat, requiring both hands — but still, all the components in balance. In 2012, Newsday readers voted Aegean one of the top-10 pizzerias on Long Island.

The lengthy menu reached beyond pie, though: Befitting the name, there’s also souvlaki, gyros and Greek salad, as well as red-sauce classics such as eggplant rollatini, baked manicotti, and pasta with Bolognese sauce, plus dozens of meat and seafood dishes. 

The future of the Sun Vet Mall is unclear, but the 282,000-square-foot property, which opened in 1973, is owned by North Merrick-based Marvin L. Lindner Associates and was recently leased by Blumenfeld Development Group, developer of The Arches/Tanger Outlets in Deer Park and shopping centers and plazas across Long Island and elsewhere. 

For a few more days, at least, the ovens are still blazing and the red-neon sign flickers. A slice and a small soda cost $4.65, and the line moves quickly.

From the outside, the Sun Vet Mall along Sunrise Highway in Holbrook looks almost lost to time — its signage weathered, many of its storefronts shuttered, the parking lot mostly empty.

Which makes it a surprise to see a steady stream of people walking in and out of an entrance. A few steps inside, they line up in front of one of the last open storefronts, Aegean Pizza & Restaurant, which has slung slices here since 1974 and is due to close for good on Saturday. 

“It is with great sadness but also joy for the extraordinary five decades we have had, that we write today to let you know that our beloved Aegean Pizza will close its doors permanently," reads a notice on their website and Facebook page, thanking customers on behalf of owners John Zaoutis and Harry Rossis, as well as founder Louie Zaoutis, “who has retired in Greece.”

The post unlocked a flurry of memories on Facebook from people who had been going to Aegean for much of their lives and, no matter how far they moved, made a point to stop in for a Grandma slice or a chicken parm hero.

This week, during Aegean’s waning days, they queued by the dozens in front of the counter or waited patiently next to a towering stack of pizza boxes for one last meal in the back dining room.

“When I was pregnant with my daughter, we had one car, and this was my outing,” said Bridget Marrotte, who had driven from Long Beach with her husband and was waiting in line for a final slice Wednesday. Back then, in the mid-'70s, Marrotte lived in Medford and did her food shopping at Pathmark, a few doors down. “I’d shop, then bring a slice home to my husband.”

That Pathmark is long closed, but its sign still hangs above the locked doors. Most of the other shops here are also closed — including flagships such as Toys R Us and Caldor — with metal grating blocking a deserted main artery still filled with faux ficus trees, empty benches and sunlight.

The quasi-abandoned vibe makes the rich aromas and buzz emanating from Aegean all the more striking. The response to the pizzeria’s closure has been so overwhelming that the staff ran out of food at least once and closed Monday to restock.

Once the doors reopened, the line promptly built again. In a land of a million and one cheese slices, Aegean’s stood out: Floppy, oily, the crust pliable and dusty with flour, each slice blanketed with so much mozzarella that it oozes this way and that as you eat, requiring both hands — but still, all the components in balance. In 2012, Newsday readers voted Aegean one of the top-10 pizzerias on Long Island.

The lengthy menu reached beyond pie, though: Befitting the name, there’s also souvlaki, gyros and Greek salad, as well as red-sauce classics such as eggplant rollatini, baked manicotti, and pasta with Bolognese sauce, plus dozens of meat and seafood dishes. 

The future of the Sun Vet Mall is unclear, but the 282,000-square-foot property, which opened in 1973, is owned by North Merrick-based Marvin L. Lindner Associates and was recently leased by Blumenfeld Development Group, developer of The Arches/Tanger Outlets in Deer Park and shopping centers and plazas across Long Island and elsewhere. 

For a few more days, at least, the ovens are still blazing and the red-neon sign flickers. A slice and a small soda cost $4.65, and the line moves quickly.

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