Father and son duo Michael and Jason Brunetti opened their Neopolitan pizza joint Pizzetteria Brunetti on Long Island in 2009, turning out a dozen pies in a tiny space in the town of Westhampton Beach. This week they opened their second location in the West Village with an expanded selection of pizzas and other light dishes in a space on Jane and Hudson streets. Instead of the six seat operation they have on the Island, the new restaurant offers plenty of seating in the cozy dining room or in the canopied back garden, which they'll keep open year round. For a peek at the pizza-making action—including a direct view inside custom-built-on-site oven—take a seat at the marble counter and watch Sonny and Pop in action.
The Brunettis take special care crafting their dough, a process Jason told us required tweaking in the transition to Manhattan. Whatever the changes, they definitely seem to be working. We sampled a few pies at a press preview this week and enjoyed the soft, slightly chewy dough that gets a solid char thanks to a quick, 90 second turn in the brick oven. It's a thinner crust, which made picking up a toppings-laden slice a bit tricky for the first bite, but the great yeasty flavor still shone through even when the pies were topped with big bold seasonings like truffle, hay smoked mozzarella and garlic.
The basic Margherita ($15) gets a smattering of house made fior di latte while the the Marinara ($11) eschews cheese for San Marzano tomatoes and roasted garlic. Their signature pizza, the Vongole ($20), comes loaded with chopped Long Island clams and a generous slathering of garlic and herb butter sauce. If that's not enough intensity for you, try the Pizza alla Nicola ($44), a flavor bomb of hay smoked Bufala Mozzarella, burrata and shavings of black truffle. It's not for the meek—or anyone light in the wallet—but it's an intriguing combination, with intense funky mushroom flavor offset by the smokey, creamy cheese.
Besides the pizza, the surprising favorite of the evening was the Masseria salad ($14), a protein-packed mix of farro, kale, chick peas, red cabbage, walnuts, almonds and dried blueberries. Chef Don Guarino eschews a bulky dressing, instead tossing the ingredients with roasted walnut oil and finishing with a sprinkling of ricotta salata. It's the perfect foil to the cheesy pizzas, as is the A' Parmiggian e' mulignan ($15), layers of baked eggplant in a zesty tomato sauce with a dusting of Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheeses.
The Italian wine list offers bottles from all over the country as well as two tap wines availabile by the glass or carafe. We enjoyed a light Sannio Falanghina DOC ($13 glass, $40 bottle), which complemented the clams perfectly, though a glass of Barrier Green Room Pale beer ($8) would have also done the trick. Michael and co-partner Anthony Abenante plan to bring in new craft beers every so often and also serve Italian brews like Strada S Felice by the bottle.
626 Hudson Street, West Village, 212-255-5699; pizzetteriabrunetti.com