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Gaetano's Flour & Fire opens in Garden City 

A tronchetto roll stuffed with smoked and fresh

A tronchetto roll stuffed with smoked and fresh mozzarella and emmental cheese -- then topped with prosciutto, arugula and Parmesan cheese -- at Gaetano's Flour & Fire in Garden City. Credit: Newsday/Corin Hirsch

The Umberto's empire is an ever-sprawling one, and it can count another node on the extended tree: Gaetano's Flour and Fire, a new pizzeria in Garden City, whose DNA is firmly rooted in the mother ship.

Owner Gaetano Corteo is the son of Umberto Corteo, one of the co-founders of Umberto's of New Hyde Park, the 54-year-old pizza powerhouse whose reach extends across Nassau County. 

The younger Corteo said he had been running the Umberto's flagship since 1996, but had long had the itch to open his own style of spot — with the blessing of his father, of course, who still operates a few miles away. As Corteo did research and attended pizza conventions, a long layover in Detroit was serendipitous: It brought Corteo face-to-face with that city's particular style of pizza, with cheese baked into the thick crust for extra crispiness "I said, 'Oh my God, this is amazing,'" said Corteo. "I think this is going to be the next pizza [trend]."

Corteo is using an Italian-made gas- and wood-fired oven to bake the pies ($18 to $20) — called "squares" on the menu — which have Asiago cheese in the crust. They come in seven styles, including one topped with pancetta, blueberries, and three kinds of cheese, plus honey and a blueberry drizzle. 

The kitchen is using the Umberto's tomato sauce recipe and tipo 00 flour for more traditional-style pies ($13 to $20) such as margherita and Grandma; other versions come topped with broccoli rabe, sausage and garlic (the Bensonhurst) or pulled pork, bacon, onions, mozarella and barbecue sauce (the Pitt Master).

Heroes ($8.50) are served on house-baked bread, and salads, apps and pastas round out the menu. Lovers of stromboli should not overlook the Tronchetto roll ($6.50), baked dough rolled around fresh and smoked mozzarella, plus Emmental cheese, and topped with arugula and prosciutto.

The bright, casual Gaetano's has a handful of tables, as well as slices to go; beer and wine are available. It's open daily, except Monday, starting at 11:30 a.m. (12 p.m. on Sunday).

Gaetano's Flour & Fire, 361 Nassau Blvd., Garden City, 516-344-5457.


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