Last night I stopped by Red Tomato Artisanal Pizza in East Norwich. This was Red Tomato’s first day of business and there were far more people working than dining. With lots of white marble, gray granite and stainless steel accents, the place has a stylish, vaguely industrial feel. The focus of the dining room is the wood-burning oven, and my friend and I took seats at the counter opposite it so that we could watch the pizzas go in and come out.
As they did, I noticed that the head pizza maker looked familiar, and it turned out to be Antimo Verde, one of the original partners at OEVO in Great Neck. (Verde split with his partner, Ciro Verdi, a few months after the place opened in November, 2008. OEVO closed earlier this year, to be replaced by 420 North.)
Red Tomato’s menu features 14 pizzas, half of which are bianca, tomato-less. Verde explained that he hews pretty closely to the Neapolitan tradition of sparingly topped individual 12-inch pies (which range from $13 to $18). The flour and the tomatoes are imported from Italy. Red Tomato also makes five kids’ pizzas (8 inches, $8 to $9) that no Neapolitan would countenance, among them macaroni and cheese, grilled chicken, and the Ballpark, with sliced Hebrew National dogs and mozzarella.
Also on offer are antipasti, salads, calzones and a promising assortment of wine and beer (whose license should be forthcoming in the next few weeks).
I thoroughly enjoyed our Margherita and the Quattro Stagioni pictured above, whose four quadrants featured, clockwise from front, artichokes, ham, olives and mushrooms.
Overseeing everything was Corey Messina, who owns Red Tomato along with Lello and Donnie Messina, his father and brother, and their partner Chuck Berg. The Messina family already owns La Bonne Boulangerie, Messina Market and the Girlfriends boutique in the same shopping center just west of the intersection of 25A and Route 106. Paterfamilias Lello Messina, a Naples native, has also been the owner of Dortoni Bakery in Levittown since 1976.
Red Tomato Artisanal Pizza is at 6245 Northern Blvd., East Norwich, 516-802-2840.
Quattro Stagioni pizza at Red Tomato