LOCATION: 132 Union St.; Red Hook, Brooklyn
GETTING THERE: F train to Carroll Street. Exit station; walk north to Union (2 blocks at most). Head west on Union about 4.5 blocks. House is just across the BQE on the south side of the street.
House of Pizza: Not Fade Away: Slice visits HoP weeks before the former owners are due to hand over the reins. Our metro editor chimes in with this report.
It is too often the case that when a beloved pizzeria changes hands, the new owners do things just a little differently, monkey with the recipes, and cheapen the ingredients, thereby cheapening the reputation the previous owners had worked years to build.
When Slice visited the House of Pizza and Calzone in Red Hook earlier this year, the original owners, Onofrio Gaudioso and John Teutonico, were in their final weeks of proprietorship there, having recently sold the shop. After sampling their wares, we knew we'd be heartbroken if the new young turk coming in changed anything.
"You the new owner?" [customers] say, eyes narrowing in suspicion. Then, with a frown and an admonishing wave of the index finger, comes the big question: "You still fry the calzone, right?"
[New owner Paul] Diagostino wants all those people to know that the restaurant's trademark deep-fried calzones - gut-busting balls of dough and cheese that fall halfway between a dinner and a dessert - are the same as ever, the same as they have been since today's old-timers were in short pants, sucking down ricotta between games of stickball and kick the can.
But preserving a local legend is not easy. The House of Pizza and Calzone is a fixture on citywide "best Italian food" lists, but its real fan base is workers from the nearby piers and the people of Red Hook and Carroll Gardens, many of whom had their first slice of pizza there decades ago.
These people are no pushovers, and the new owners know it. "You have no idea, the stress," [Co-owner Gino] Vitale said the other day, at a slow moment after the dinner rush. "I don't sleep sometimes. I call him: 'Paulie, listen. Make sure the sauce is the same.' "
We're relieved to read that this new guard actually cares about the product and is concerned with preserving it. We'll have to stop in and try HoP soon, which shouldn't be a problem given that our roving reporter E-Rock lives just a few blocks away.
[Thanks to Youngna for alerting me to this link; I would have missed it otherwise this weekend.]