Sliced! Patsy’s to open Bay Ridge location next door to family-owned pizzeria

Sliced! Patsy’s to open Bay Ridge location next door to family-owned pizzeria
Community News Group / Julianne McShane

They don’t want to be a patsy for Patsy’s.

A new location of beloved, 84-year-old old pizza franchise Patsy’s will open in Bay Ridge at the end of the month, right next to a smaller, family-owned pizza joint serving up single slices — a location choice that has angered some local business owners, including one of the owners of the spot next door.

“There was no need to open another pizzeria next to another pizzeria,” said Nunzio Cristiano, who co-owns Nonno’s Pizza with his son Tony, on Third Avenue between 88th and 89th streets.

The Cristiano father-and-son duo started their business in 2013, when they took over an existing pizzeria, Buon Gusto, in the same location. Nonno’s serves on-the-spot slices and delivers pies, and the eatery already faces stiff competition in the Ridge, a borough destination for Italian restaurateurs and foodies alike, with 14 pizzerias and Italian eateries.

One local foodie, chef, and restaurateur who formerly owned a French restaurant in the neighborhood said that he likes Patsy’s, but that the nabe already has enough pizza and pasta to satisfy every Ridgite.

“The last thing Bay Ridge needs is another Italian eatery,” said Vincent Tropepe. “I don’t necessarily have a problem with Patsy’s coming into Bay Ridge. What I have a problem with is Patsy’s opening up right next door to an Italian place that is a mom-and-pop shop. I really feel that there are no business ethics here.”

But the decision to bring Patsy’s to 8814 Third Avenue wasn’t based on ill-will or ruthless competition, according to Patsy’s general manager, who insisted it was just due to the fact that the location — formerly a Mexican restaurant and bar — was a good space with a fully-equipped kitchen.

“We were searching Bay Ridge for a location — there were several — but when we came here, it was kitchen-ready, including refrigeration, and everything, and it was all included with the lease,” said Charlie Cavallo, who grew up in Bensonhurst. “So it was like, how could we go wrong? We just saved ourselves a half million dollars in kitchen equipment and refrigeration and everything.”

The 110-seat space, which the co-owners said they secured on Aug. 3, will include Patsy’s staples, including a variety of their signature pies and soups, salads, meat, fish, and pasta dishes plus a raw bar — a first for the franchise. But it will not sell pizza by the slice, so it shouldn’t take customers away from its next-door neighbor, according to one of the Patsy’s co-owners.

“People come to Pasty’s because they realize that its not just a place to grab a slice and go — it’s a sit-down, formal meal,” said Joe Juliano. “They really don’t conflict. It’s a full Italian restaurant. It’s not a conflict.”

Patsy’s has six outlets in Manhattan, including the famed original location in East Harlem, which opened in 1933 and counted Frank Sinatra among its patrons. The Ridge location will be the second Patsy’s in Brooklyn — the first one opened on Dean Street between Fifth and Flatbush avenues near the Barclays Center in 2014.

Juliano said that he spoke to Cristiano and his son when they were at an event at the Dean Street location, and assured them that he didn’t want their business to suffer in Bay Ridge. Cavallo said he hasn’t personally spoken to the pair, but echoed Juliano by adding that they’re not out to get the “little guy.”

“[Cristiano] knows we’re not here intentionally,” Cavallo said. “Patsy’s is a coal-fired oven brand, and people are coming for the old-school feeling of that. It has nothing to do with a regular pizzeria.”

The Third Avenue Patsy’s is tentatively slated to open on Nov. 27, Cavallo said.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.