An autentic taste of Italy is a lot closer than you think.
Homemade gelato and Italian pizza the way it’s done in the Old Country take center stage at the newly opened 081 Pizza restaurant in Stony Brook.
081 is the telephone area code for Naples, Italy, a place from which 081 Pizza gets its most important ingredients from.
“It is the best flour in the world,” said O81 owner George Mylonas. “It is two to three times more expensive than what everyone else is using.”
He’s also using imported cheeses, sugar and more.
Another feature from Napoli is the large wood burning oven in the middle of the kitchen.
The oven, which exceeds temperatures of over 800 degrees, cooks entire pizza pies in 90 seconds. It was flown to 2350 Nesconset Highway from overseas weeks before the shop’s Aug. 15 opening.
“It cooks the pie very fast, very different” he said.
Mylonas, who was born in Sicily and raised in Greece, is no newbie when it comes to restaurants and catering to people’s changing tastes.
In 1999, he moved from Europe to Miami, Fla., and eventually opened two popular Greek restaurants under the Thasos brand in Miami and Fort Lauderdale that he no longer operates.
Mylonas later headed to New York to replicate his success in Miami with a trendy and upscale Greek restaurant.
That was, until he familiarized himself with the pizza scene in the city and Long Island.
“When I got here I saw everyone has the same pizza,” he said. “All these different pizzerias and they all do the same thing?”
He settled in Stony Brook with his wife, Marina, with a new goal in mind: give the people fresh, European-style food.
“The pizza is very European focused; it is not like New York pizza,” explained Mylonas. “Here they do the slices that sit around forever [in the case]. We want to focus on the pizza” as a whole.
“Pizza in Italy is fast and cheap,” said Mylonas.
Like in Italy, 081 Pizza doesn’t sell individual slices, instead they sell pies that are either 12 inches or 16 inches.
When ordering, patrons choose from either a red or white sauce. The red consists of ripe tomatoes, mozzarella, and parmigiana-reggiano. The white is a creamy sauce made in-house; it’s milk and flour-based with fresh garlic and rosemary, mozzarella, and parmigiana-reggiano.
Then they add toppings.
The most popular dish thus far is the Godfather pizza, which is smothered in red sauce and pepperoni, meatballs made at the shop, Peppadew peppers, with a house herb pesto.
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081 Pizza also cooks up pasta dishes like linguine and meatballs, and chicken pesto in its oven. The shop offers appetizers that include an onion ring-mozzeralla stick — all-in-one, too.
For dessert, there is gelato, where Mylonas relies on his wife’s expertise. She worked for years in a Gelateria in Florence, Italy.
Mylonas said they can make any dessert-flavored gelato, because they puts “real desserts into the gelato.” There isn’t flavoring.
“We make them daily, no preservatives or coloring,” he said.
The flavors change constantly and range from pistachio to Tiramisu.
Mylonas showed GreaterPortJeff his carrot cake gelato, which, he said, he baked the previous night.
081 Pizza’s ownership made it a priority to accomodate the vegan community, as well.
There are diary-free gelato offerings, in addition to vegan meals. Mylonas makes vegan wraps daily and has pizza options available with vegan cheese and toppings.
IF YOU GO
081 Pizza is open every day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and is located at 2350 Nesconset Highway, just west of Stony Brook Road in the shopping center adjacent to Starbucks.
Top: 081 Pizza owner George Mylonas holding his signature Godfather pizza.
(Credit: Nicholas Esposito)