Pizza mitzvah! Marine Park pizzeria goes kosher • Brooklyn Paper

Pizza mitzvah! Marine Park pizzeria goes kosher

Going kosher: Vinny Fontana and Mike Arje, owners of The Original Pizza in Marine Park, now serve kosher pizza, with the same Italian taste.
Photo by Erin Lefevre

A Marine Park pizzeria with a long tradition in the Brooklyn pizza scene has decided to adopt a tradition that’s even older — it’s going kosher.

Vinny Fontana’s father Francesco opened up the first The Original Pizza location in Canarsie back in 1964, and the family still has pizzerias in Canarsie, in Bay Ridge, and in Flatlands, as well as the Avenue U location in Marine Park. But that neighborhood’s increasing Jewish population prompted Fontana to try something new.

“The neighborhood is changing so much. I thought ‘before I retire, I wanna try this,’ ” said Fontana.

Mike Arje, who has known Fontana for years, came on as a co-owner in December to help with the kosher switch. He said the pizza is simply a kosher version of Fontana’s previous work.

“It’s basically the same product, but with kosher ingredients,” he said. “We’re trying to be that authentic Italian taste with a little bit of a Jewish taste as well.”

A restaurant needs to be certified by a rabbi before it can be considered kosher, and must strictly comply with Jewish dietary laws, which forbid the mixing of milk and meat, among other things. This means old standards such as pepperoni pizza and the like cannot be considered kosher.

The Original Pizza has started serving a few additional dishes alongside its traditional pies — such as falafel — to broaden, rather than change the eatery’s character.

Fontana said his old customers are still coming, in addition to the new ones.

“Everyone says it’s just like my original pizza,” he said. “I’m happy everyone’s loving it.”

The restaurant’s switch to kosher satisfies long-standing demands for more kosher pizza places in and around Marine Park, which is home to an increasing number of Orthodox Jews.

“I’ve always said there should be one on Avenue S, or Quentin Road. A lot of Jewish people live there,” said Elan Kornblum, from Marine Park, who is the publisher of Great Kosher Restaurants International. “I’d love there to be more.”

A kosher pizza aficionado, Kornblum says The Original Pizza’s menu is stellar.

“The supreme and the grandma are fantastic. They have a very good, solid slice,” he said. “I also had the falafel. It had a nice, green color. I wouldn’t expect a non-kosher pizza place to serve falafel.”

There are limited kosher pizza options in the area, including Pizza Nosh on Nostrand Avenue, in addition to a few other non-pizza kosher restaurants in Marine Park.

The Original Pizza [2911 Avenue U between Nostrand Ave. and E. 29th Street, (718) 646-8686]

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

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