From Modest Beginnings in East Harlem, Storied Patsy’s Pizzeria Involves Greenwich

Greenwich is in a for a deal with. The storied Patsy’s Pizzeria that has operated in East Harlem since 1933 is coming to city.

There are greater than a dozen Patsy’s areas in New York, however when the restaurant opens at 130 East Putnam Ave, it will likely be the eatery’s first location in Connecticut.

This week Frank Brija and his son Adem, who runs the unique East Harlem location, got here to Greenwich to fulfill up with enterprise companions Ben Celaj, Eddie Brahimi, Sergio Celaj, and Steve Haxhiaj, who will handle the Greenwich location.

Standing: Ben Celaj, Frank Brija, Eddie Brahimi, Sergio Celaj, with Steve Haxhiaj who would be the supervisor at Patsy’s at 130 East Putnam Ave. Nov 2, 2022 Picture: Leslie Yager
Patsy’s Pizzeria will open within the first quarter of 2023 at 130 East Putnam Ave. Picture: Leslie Yager

The area was most not too long ago occupied by Moon, and previous to that was longtime dwelling to Asiana. However some residents recall jockeying for a spot on the bar when Tucson drew crowds the Nineteen Eighties. These with even longer recollections loved The Sand Lure within the Seventies.

Inside moments of Adem scraping the Moon brand off the window on Wednesday and placing up “Patsy’s Coming Quickly” indicators, excited passers-by stopped to ask the burning query: When?

Ben Celaj, one of many companions working with the Brijas, stated he anticipated Patsy’s will open in January or February 2023.

Celaj, who’s from northern Westchester, however dines out in New York Metropolis and Greenwich a number of nights every week, stated a part of his function with the group is to hunt out nice areas. When he realized the area at 130 East Putnam Ave was out there he was thrilled.

“However I needed to persuade him about Greenwich,” Celaj stated, referring to Frank Brija.

“I by no means left New York,” Frank replied by the use of a proof.

Adem and his father Frank Brija outdoors 130 East Putnam Avenue in Greenwich, quickly to be dwelling to the primary Patsy’s Pizzeria outdoors New York. Nov 2, 2022 Picture: Leslie Yager

“There are only a few out there areas in Greenwich,” Celaj stated. “I believe Patsy’s would be the good match. That is our first time working along with Patsy’s as a result of we now have excessive finish steak homes and Italian eating places within the metropolis, so we’re merging two companies. We’re going to have nice meals, nice pizza and an incredible ambiance.”

The situation does have many benefits. It’s centrally situated, however in contrast to Greenwich Avenue, there may be each road parking in entrance and an enormous car parking zone behind the constructing.

Adem shared the backstory main as much as Patsy’s growth from the modest store in East Harlem to 16 areas in New York, and now its first location in Connecticut. The pizzeria was first opened in 1933 by an couple from Italy, Pasquale ‘Patsy’ Lancieri and his spouse Carmella, who introduced acquainted delicacies to their fellow immigrants, together with conventional, coal-oven pizza.

After Patsy died within the Seventies, Carmella ran the enterprise on her personal for a few years.

Frank, who had had jobs in a number of pizzerias rising up, labored beside Carmella in East Harlem for a number of years, studying all her recipes. She continued to run the restaurant into her 80s, and when she retired in 1991 Frank purchased the enterprise.

Adem, who runs the East Harlem location in the present day stated all of the recipes are Carmella’s.

“We use lots of the identical distributors too,” he added. “When my dad formally purchased the place, two of the pizza males had been there because the Fifties. One other pizza man got here in Seventies and labored there till the 2010s. Even now we now have guys who’ve been on the East Harlem location greater than 20 years.”

Within the mid Nineteen Nineties, Frank franchised out the primary Patsy’s areas in New York Metropolis. Adem stated in the present day there are 15 or 16 areas, together with 4 stands at Citi Subject in Queens, and new areas deliberate for White Plains and Staten Island.

Given the Patsy’s legacy stems from the storied East Harlem location, Adem stated authenticity is prized.

“It’s at all times been crucial, regardless of how a lot we broaden, that we keep the East Harlem location,” Adem defined. We attempt to change it as little as doable. It appears to be like like a snapshot in time.”

And that have is what attracts neighbors, vacationers and even celebrities to Patsy’s.

In 2017, throughout the American Movie Institute ‘s Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony for Diane Keaton, Al Pacino recalled how the solid of The Godfather had gathered at Patsy’s in East Harlem and even recalled the second when Marlon Brando launched himself to Keaton.

Extra not too long ago, on-line raves have come from the likes of Blake Vigorous and Ryan Reynolds.

The coal oven at Patsy’s in East Harlem. Contributed picture

Adem stated the oven itself dates again to 1933. The dough machine is from the Forties.

“My father likes the saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t repair it,’” Adem stated. “The oven is de facto massive and will match 20-30 pizzas at a time, however you don’t fill it up. The pizza is cooked in about 90 seconds at about 1000° levels. It has a skinny crust.”

“When our pizza comes out of the oven, the cheese continues to be moist and also you get the cheese pull, and the sauce is scorching – you don’t wish to overcook.”

The East Harlem location is a daily cease on Scott’s Pizza Tours, the place Patsy’s is known as “East Harlem’s undisputed oasis of pizza.”

“Individuals suppose the dough machine is a museum piece. I inform them, ‘No that’s what made your dough in the present day!’” Adem stated.

Dough machine nonetheless in operation at Patsy’s in East Harlem. Contributed picture

“All our areas have a full Italian menu,” Adem continued. “Rooster Parm, pastas, fish, and steak – plus pizza.”

As an homage to the unique location, with each growth, components of the unique restaurant are shared by black and white photographs, the usage of wooden, and signage.

“Even the pizza oven can have a sure look that harkens again to the restaurant’s roots,” Adem stated. “The thought in Greenwich is to keep up lots of historical past and convey the identical nice pizza and nice meals with a contemporary twist.”

Steve Haxhiaj, whose background is northern Italian delicacies, stated the companions have been collectively for about 30 years. Proper now, in New York Metropolis, they personal Il Monello and Tuscany Steak Home, which Haxhiaj manages, however he’ll come to Greenwich to handle Patsy’s.

“We’re bringing our expertise and our sources as much as Greenwich, and mixing it with Patsy’s,” Haxhiaj stated. “Most of our sauces will likely be Tuscan. Anticipate wonderful sauces!”

“Will probably be a extra upscale Patsy’s,” he added. “However the costs received’t be excessive.”

Keep tuned…

Leave a Comment