Massimiliano Gargiulo, known around Babylon Village as Max, welcomed his latest addition to the Molto Vino family: Molto Pizza.
After years of planning, Molto Pizza officially opened for business on Aug. 31 at 376 Deer Park Avenue, across from Lily Flanagan’s Pub.
“It was always one of my other dreams to open a pizzeria,” Gargiulo said. “This kind of pizzeria is different.”
Molto Vino, which opened on 45 Deer Park Avenue in 2012, is known as a wine and cheese osteria — an Italian word for a restaurant that serves wine and simple foods, like meat and cheese boards.
In recent years, Molto Vino introduced coal-fired pizza to their menu, which has become a huge hit for the eatery.
Its popularity gave Gargiulo the idea to open up Molto’s own pizza place that has a sit-down area, but also provides takeout and delivery options.
“I saw more of an interest from my customers there on the pizza, but I also wanted to make sure I delivered the pizza,” Gargiulo said. “I wanted people to try my pizza at home.”
Since Molto Vino is strictly a wine bar with only some food, Gargiulo said he felt like the pizza needed its own space.
He said the bar also brings in an older demographic of people, so he wanted Molto Pizza to be a place for children and adults.
“I felt like my customers felt funny really because it was a bar, not a pizzeria,” Gargiulo said. “So, I said you know what, why don’t we do a place where there is no bar, and it’s a family-oriented place where you come in and have dinner with your kids at a big table, have a couple of pizzas, some appetizers, Italian food, and have a chance to try the pizza in a different atmosphere.”
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Gargiulo said what sets coal-fired pizza apart from Neapolitan pizza is its crispiness.
Coal-fired pizza emerged in the United States and is more of a New York-style pizza, while Neopolitan pizza originates in Naples, Italy, and is cooked in a wood-oven.
Molto Pizza’s oven has a mix of wood and coal: the wood adds a bit of flavor and the coal gives it the heat.
“It’s crispier, it stays in the oven longer than Neopolitan pizza, which cooks in 90 seconds,” Gargiulo said. “They are both fired with wood, but one is a higher temperature than the other.”
Molto Pizza has been a labor of love for some time for Gargiulo, but he said something more important came up in his personal life that delayed the restaurant’s opening.
“The reason why it took time was that something much more important came, which was my son,” Gargiulo said. “My son was born in December 2016, so my life changed, and I love spending time with my son, so I kind of put the pizzeria on the back burner for a little while because my son was my priority.”
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Gargiulo paid homage to his son in a 30-foot wall mural inside of the restaurant created by Brooklyn graffiti artist, Damien Mitchell.
The piece also illustrates scenes from Gargiulo’s home in Bay Ridge, and him carrying his son, Lucio, on his shoulders.
The restaurant offers inside and outside dining, and the Brooklyn-themed décor makes you feel like you’re about to have a true, New York pizza.
Besides pizza, Molto Pizza also has a full menu of authentic Italian dishes such as pasta, salads, antipasti platters, entrees, and more.
Gargiulo said he is excited to expand the Molto Vino brand and have his dream of opening a pizzeria finally be a reality.
“It feels great to have a place like this and it also feels great to show people the vision I had for this place and how comfortable they feel when they come in,” Gargiulo said.
Below are more photos of Molto Pizza.