Lawrence Ciminieri, Reopening Day
Ciminieri's family owns Totonno's, and Lawrence is the head pizzaiolo. He was back in action earlier today. Although he's not the primary pizzamaker at the Coney Totonno's, he tells us he's trying to spend more time in front of the oven again and is slowly ramping back up so he can spend a whole day manning the stick.
Same As It Ever Was
The dining room remains pretty much unchanged. For those who are familiar with it, it will probably only look like it got a fresh coat of paint. Oh, and the floor is completely new. The black-and-white checkerboard tiles have been replaced, which is sort of a shame.
Sausage Pie (Whole)
When I sat down to order, I asked for one large sausage pie and one large plain pie. Louise "Cookie" Ciminieri (Lawrence's mom) looked at me like I was crazy and said, "For ONE person?!?"
Wall of Fame
All the stuff you remember is still on the wall, including Ed Levine's book Pizza: A Slice of Heaven (photo right).
Of course it was big news that Totonno's was open again. Lawrence and Cookie and Cookie's brother Frank all told me that the Daily News had left minutes before I arrived. And here, a photographer from the Bay News was snapping away.
Sausage Pie (Detail)
Oh, back to my Cookie story. I told her I was taking the pizzas back to my office to share and that I'd just take them both in boxes and eat a couple slices at the table out of the box—you know, so she didn't have to rebox later. "No. We don't allow you to eat out of boxes here. I'll bring one of them to you on a tray."
I had the sausage pie on a tray. Ate a slice and then boxed the rest. The sausage pie was thicker than I was used to. I think maybe Lawrence didn't stretch this one out as much. The end crust was puffier and thicker than typical Totonno's, as was the undercrust. (The plain pie was right on target, though.)
Of course, at Totonno's there are no paper menus. If you ask for one, Cookie, who waits the tables, will gruffly point to the menuboard and say, "There's the menu!"
Lawrence did most of the pies while I was there, though he did have an assistant helping build pies.
Ciminieri about to load a white pie into the oven. He said that they have a lot of Russian customers from nearby Brighton Beach and that they order a lot of white pies.
The same white pie, now done.
Hasta la Pizza!
And I leave you with the underside of the sausage pie. Good to see Totonno's back!