103 Main Street, Westhampton Beach NY 11978 (map); 631-288-3003; pizzetteriabrunetti.com
Pizza style: Neapolitan-inspired
Oven type: Wood-fired Acunto oven
The skinny: Run by father-and-son team Michael and Jason Brunetti, this small pizzeria stall is serving some best-in-show wood-fired pizza. Do not miss the clam pizza. This is Long Island, after all. They're fresh as heck.
Price: Margherita, $14; Vongole Bianca (clam pizza), $18; Pizza Spezie (spicy), $17
Even when you've got the address of Westhampton Beach's Pizzetteria Brunetti dialed into your GPS, it's hard to find. Could this be right? Is it here in this quaint little building? The one that's also home to a Häagen-Dazs, a jewelry store, and a small market? But then you see a pizza peel hanging from the door, pressed into service as the pizzeria's "open" sign, and you realize your device is not on the fritz after all.
It seems strange to use the term "food court" anywhere in The Hamptons — sad suburban malls have food courts — but that's essentially what you have at 103 Main Street. Teenagers work the ice cream freezers just inside one of the doors; the market sells baked goods, sandwiches, and cheeses; and between the two, tucked into a narrow corridor, is a small stall with a large oven whose familiar glow hints at the possibility of some serious pizza.
But, come on, how serious can this place be? I mean, look at it. It's nothing more than a counter, an oven, and a make table.
Turns out, yeah, it's pretty serious:
Like all the pizzas we sampled on a recent Saturday visit to Westhampton Beach, the Margherita (above) is Neapolitan-inspired. It has all the hallmarks of this beloved style of pizza, but father-and-son team Michael and Jason Brunetti make their pies a bit more crisp and noticeably less "wet" than a more traditional Neapolitan pizza would be. No complaints here, that's how I prefer my wood-fired pizzas. (OK, one complaint: Brunetti's pizzas are a bit small, even for this style.)
But perhaps that's because instead of going wide, this pizza has gone tall. In a bit, I'll show you some pics of pizzas with crazy poofy outer crusts, but first, let's get an idea of what's on the menu:
There are the standard pizzas (marinara, Margherita) and some inventive topping combinations, too. And look at that Vongole Bianca: chopped clams with a garlic butter spread and a parsley garnish. Sound familiar? If you said Motorino's cherrystone clam pie, bingo. Both of the Brunettis mentioned Motorino as one of their favorites in Manhattan and in fact Michael Brunetti interned there before he and his son opened their place.
What's that? You want a peek at the Brunetti Vongole? Here you go. And just take a look at that puffy rim (what the Italians call the cornicione):
You HAVE to get this pizza if you visit Brunetti. I mean, this is Long Island. Where else are you going to get clams this fresh. Jason Brunetti says they come from a local clammer. No surprise there. Ours were meaty, just briny enough, and without a hint of that rubbery texture that can ruin a clam pie. If you like seafood and/or clam pies, it would be a crime to skip this pizza.
The "Pizza Spezie" is a spicy pie topped with burrata cheese, broccolini, spicy sausage, and chili peppers. A very nice combination of flavors. The ultra-creamy cheese balances out the slight astringency of the broccolini, whose slight sweetness is cut by the hot peppers. There's a lot going on here, all pretty good, but my thoughts keeps returning to that Vongole pizza. Man, that thing was good.
The crust on all the pies was blistered with blackened spots — our clam pie veering into the realm of "burned." It's crisp, moderately chewy, and has a very good complex flavor due to the 24-hour room-temperature fermentation the Brunettis use, which gives the yeast time to break down the proteins and starches into tastier components.
The Brunettis ordered the oven from the Acunto family in Naples. It's new but has the look of an oven that's been there decades — even though Pizzetteria Brunetti only opened around this time last summer.
I wish I could give a 100 percent accurate assessment of the calzone here, but I can't. Girl Slice and I took this to go and reheated it whole the next day. It's like the golidlocks of calzones — not too stuffed, not too thin, filled with a restrained amount of mozzarella, ricotta, and proscuitto. Even reheated, it was delicious. I'd love to go back and try it fresh from the oven.
I wish we could have tried this one, but Jason Brunetti just had it pose for a photo on its way out to a customer.
But this asparagus pizza brings to mind something that Motorino's Mathieu Palombino told me about Jason Brunetti's cooking: "[He] has something special when it comes to making pizza, he is a natural, like a grandma, cooks amazing food effortlessly. He made me a veggie pizza last summer with tiny vegetables from the farm behind his shop, olive oil, and salt and marjoram and garlic. It was absolutely divine. You should try him in the middle of summer when local produce is in full supply."
I'm eager to do so — even if I have to fight the eastbound traffic out there.