Thin, coal-fired pizza with a dogged following and complex legacy will land in Patchogue this summer when Patsy’s Pizzeria arrives downtown.
Franchisee Ena Singh has leased a 2,700-square-foot space at 35-71 S. Ocean Ave., and plans to open a branch of the pizza chain by August.
Singh, who has lived on Long Island for 35 years, said she chose Patchogue because of the town’s welcoming stance. “I’m excited to able to bring the iconic Patsy’s Pizzeria to our community,” she wrote in an email.
Singh said Patsy’s pizza, ambience and service will match that of the original Patsy’s in East Harlem, which was opened in 1933 by Patsy and Carmela Lancieri but has since been sold and grown into a franchise.
At least two coal-oven pizzerias on Long Island have some connection to Patsy’s, all of them through Patsy Lancieri’s nephew, Pasquale “Patsy” Grimaldi, who opened a Patsy’s under the Brooklyn Bridge in 1990.
The next year, Carmela Lancieri sold Patsy’s to Frank Brija after running the chain alone for nearly two decades after her husband’s death. When Frank Brija licensed the name “Patsy’s,” and began to open franchises in New York City, a legal dispute over the name ensued and Patsy Grimaldi renamed his two pizzerias to Grimaldi’s. Grimaldi’s nephews, Fred and Marco Lacagnina, later opened Salvatore’s Coal Oven Pizzeria in Port Washington, and another nephew, Bill Massa, opened Massa’s Pizzeria in Huntington.
Garden City’s Grimaldi’s has a sideways connection to Patsy’s, too: It was opened by the late Russell Ciolli, the son of Frank Ciolli, who bought the Brooklyn Heights Grimaldi’s from Patsy Grimaldi in 2001.
There is also a Patsy’s Pizzeria in the Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, but it uses a gas-fired oven, instead of coal.
Hence, the complex legacy.
In the meantime, Frank Brija has grown the Patsy’s franchise to 12 locations, and the Patchogue spot will be one of two to open in 2018, Singh said. Besides pizza, the restaurant will offer soups, salads, pastas and entrees.
The South Ocean Avenue building where Patsy’s is going also holds the James Joyce Irish Pub & Restaurant, and is also home to 360 Taiko Sushi & Lounge.