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The Gristmill in East Rockaway will close July 30

Pizzaiolo Jerry Miele holds a Margherita pizza in

Pizzaiolo Jerry Miele holds a Margherita pizza in front of the oven at The Gristmill Brick Oven Bistro in East Rockaway. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Another victim of the dining havoc wreaked by the coronavirus, The Gristmill in East Rockaway will close after dinner on July 30.

“The restaurant business is extremely tough and demanding to begin with,” owners Jerry Miele and John Orphanos wrote on Facebook, “the added effect of COVID-19 has made it impossible for The Gristmill to sustain.”

The two friends opened their doors in June, 2018. Located in a parking-challenged shopping center, the modest eatery boasted some serious culinary firepower: Orphanos, formerly the pasta-maker at Grotta di Fuoco, brought imagination and finesse to much more than the menu’s macaroni, with exuberant sandwiches, mains and desserts. While he could usually be glimpsed toiling away in the kitchen, Miele plied his trade in full view of the dining room, methodically turning out artisanal pizzas in a style that blended traditional Neapolitan and New American influences. He snagged a spot on our 2019 list of “LI Pizzas worth the drive” with a hybrid pizza-calzone dubbed “the combo.”

Miele said that the combination of reduced seating and customers’ decreased desire for hanging out and having a few drinks was a deadly one for business. He said that he and his partner are both looking to take some time to regroup; he promised to keep me posted on where they land.

The Gristmill, 144 Main St., East Rockaway, 516-792-6104, thegristmillbob.com

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