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A Gorgonzola salad is served at The Pie

A Gorgonzola salad is served at The Pie in Port Jefferson. (Jan. 23, 2010) Photo Credit: Kirsten Luce

LOCATION INFO

216 Main St. Port Jefferson, NY 11777-1644

631-331-4646

thepieofportjeff.com

Cost

$ (Inexpensive)

Description

The attraction is, of course, pizza. The Pie specializes in the Neapolitan variety, coal-fired from ... More »

The name of this Port Jefferson restaurant tells you why you should visit and what you should order. Indeed, there's little else on the menu to compete with those extraordinary circles of thin baked dough, lightly charred by the coal-fired brick oven, deliciously topped.

Co-owners and executive chefs Jimmy Pace and Bobby Contursi have modeled this casual, comfortable spot on the near-mythic Frank Pepe's of New Haven. The style of pizza is certainly similar, although there are differences. What matters to us, though, is that The Pie would be worth a trip to Port Jefferson, whether or not there ever was a Pepe's.

Although you can get a family-style salad -- mostly iceberg lettuce, some other greens, carrots, olives and tomatoes -- it's adequate rather than special. The restaurant sells jars of the house vinaigrette to go. It's good, but you can do as well at home.

What you can't make at home is coal-oven pizza of this caliber. The round pie is cut into rectangles, New Haven style. First-timers should order the tomato and mozzarella version, simple and sublime, oozing lots of molten cheese. The garlicky clam pie is made with chopped clams and what Pace and Contursi call a "casino butter." I thought the butter made the crust a little soggy, but it tasted quite good. The clam casino pie (chopped clams with bacon) may be a bit unorthodox, but, while not a standout, it wasn't bad.

The thin crust stood up to the very good grilled vegetable topping as well as to the satisfying prosciutto di Parma combination that included artichokes and black olives. Shrimp and garlic work well together on another of the pizzas offered. If you like your toppings hearty, get the broccoli rabe, sweet sausage and garlic combo. The supreme pie, crowned with bacon, meatballs, sausage, pepperoni and prosciutto, is designed for meat lovers, but they also might appreciate a vegetarian choice: the terrific wild mushroom and fresh herb pie.

The calzone is worth trying. Its crust, like that of the pizza, is extremely thin, and turns brown and crisp before the filling has a chance to become piping hot. We found this variation in temperature negligible as we demolished the crescent-shaped stuffed pie made with ricotta, mozzarella, caramelized garlic and roasted peppers. The only other non-pizza offering is a meatball hero made with Pace's Steakhouse chopped meat. It's hard to say what makes these spheres so special -- the quality of the meat, their garlic-intensity or their surprising lightness. Too bad they're sandwiched inside ordinary Italian bread. Next time, I might order a few meatballs to go, along with some sauce, to serve atop pasta at home.

Among finales, such as ricotta cheesecake, chocolate truffle mousse and gelato, nothing stood out.

But the pizza -- that's another story. One would have a hard time finding a better Long Island pie than the one served at this aptly named restaurant.

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