Gerritsen Beach pizzeria offers seafood pizza for Lent

Gerritsen Beach pizzeria offers seafood pizza for Lent
Photo by Jon Farina

A Gerritsen Beach pizzeria has come up with a fishy way to help customers observe Lent.

Victoria Pizzeria is kicking off Lent by introducing a menu of seafood pizzas and dishes the for entire 40 days of Lent — complying with certain Christian denominations’ prohibitions on eating meat during the period. The joint’s manager says the menu will allow people to satisfy their cravings for meat pizzas while observing the strictures of Lent.

“As someone that follows Lent, I think it’s great,” said Joe Gencarelli. “You’re not tempted by everything else and stay in your beliefs.”

Lent is a 40-day period that begins on Ash Wednesday, which is on Feb. 14 this year, and ends shortly before Easter Sunday. Catholics typically do not eat meat on any Friday during this period, and some give up meat all together for the duration of Lent. Fish is allowed in its place, however. Lent aims to replicate Jesus’ sacrifice when he spent 40 days and nights in the desert.

Victoria Pizzeria’s Lent menu includes an array of fish dishes, including shrimp pizzas and shrimp parmesan, according to the “Special Lent Menu.” The pizzeria also puts non-fish meatless dishes on the Lent menu, such as a rice ball with cheese. Owner Salvatore Genova said that some of the seafood items, such as the shrimp fra diavolo, a seafood linguini dish, stay on the menu year-round. Others, like the shrimp pizza and the rice ball, are only available during Lent.

The pizzeria has been around since 1962, but Genova became the owner two years ago. Last year was the first time Victoria Pizzeria offered the Lent menu, and Genova said it was a hit.

“It did very well,” he said. “We sold a lot of shrimp pizza.”

Gencarelli said they have to add extra staff due to the menu’s popularity.

“It’s gonna be busy,” he said. “Not a lot of places offer a menu just for Lent.”

The pizzeria started the menu because Genova and Gencarelli are both practicing Catholics, but also because of the large Catholic presence in Gerritsen Beach and nearby Marine Park and Sheepshead Bay, according to Gencarelli.

“Our customers are mixed religiously,” he said. “But there’s a big Catholic presence around here.”

Non-Catholic customers can still order pepperoni pizzas and other meat dishes during Lent at Victoria Pizzeria, however. The staff simply keeps the meat supplies away from the Lent-compliant supplies, Gencarelli said.

“We have everything for people who don’t do Lent,” he said. “We keep the Lent sauces separate from the meat sauces.”

Victoria Pizzeria. [2716 Gerritsen Ave., between Everett and Florence avenues, (718) 891-9496, victoriapizzanyc.com].

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.