When the Cooper Street Grille closed down several months ago, it kicked off a wave of speculation here in the Village about what might go in its place. Last week it was noted in the Babylon Village legal notices that The Pizzeria, a new, local string of pizza spots and restaurants, would be presenting the Babylon Village planning board with their site plan for the 217. E. Main Street location.
Pizza is an ancient tradition here on Long Island, some might call it a religion, but The Pizzeria is a brand new venture.
Finance and Tech entrepreneur Cliff Weinstein sold his company in 2019 and was looking around for a new venture. He teamed up with childhood friend Paul Saccoccio and his brother Dan to create a new kind of Pizza shop.
“We had always talked about doing something together and creating a new brand in the pizza space”, said Cliff.
They opened their first eatery in 2019 in the Smith Haven Mall and then followed a pretty aggressive expansion plan with two more locations over the next year and a half in Islip and Bayport.
Their fourth location, on the ground floor of the new Greenview apartment building at 11 Maple Ave in Bay Shore, presented a bit of a challenge. The space was too big to house just a traditional pizzeria. So the partners pivoted and created a full restaurant with table service, outdoor dining and a fourteen seat bar.
Cliff says that location was, “a bit of a risk”. He was unsure if people would come to this casual pizzeria with a full bar.
“The first day we opened, the bar was packed and we looked at ourselves and said, ‘Maybe we should get rid of the pizza and extend the bar’,” he said laughing.
In fact, it has been such a success that they went back to the drawing board and delayed the opening of their fifth location in Lindenhurst to give it a similar look and feel to the Bay Shore store. That location will open in a matter of weeks
With the Babylon location, The Pizzeria will be taking the idea to the next level. The Cooper Street restaurant will have a large pizza counter, a full service dining menu with a wait staff and a bar with between twenty four and thirty six seats. Despite that, you’ll still be able to run in and get a quick slice if that’s what you want.
Cliff says he’s working with the Village to see what can be done with the exterior and the facade to make the building stand out. He hopes to have part of the storefront that can be opened so diners can enjoy the outside on nice weather days.
“This building is somewhat of the gateway to Babylon Village. It’s the first thing you see”, Cliff says, “We’re pretty excited about the location”