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.