By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Red Bank’s ever-growing pizza party may soon have yet another purveyor of tomato pies boasting of a coal-fired oven.
After redbankgreen reported last month that Pazzos Coal Fired Oven Restaurant was close to inking a lease to move into the Red Bank Corporate Plaza on West Front Street, yet another new force in coal-fired pizza called to announce itself.
Tom and Yvette Bonfiglio, Brooklyn natives who now live in Monmouth Beach, say they’re moving into Red Bank’s Galleria and will open Tommy’s Coal Fired Pizza in the space currently occupied by 2Senza Ristorante by the end of the year.
2Senza owner Jill Green confirmed that she’s departing the Galleria after 15 years there, probably before the holiday season, and is working with the Bonfiglios to speed their opening. redbankgreen will have more on 2Senza next week.
Meanwhile, we may have a coal-fired pizza battle brewing.
“Let the pizza wars begin,” Tom Bonfiglio says.
Lincroft resident Leonardo DiMaria, along with two partners, says he’ll be opening up Pazzo’s early next year at 141 West Front St. As of Thursday, though, a lease still hadn’t been signed. He tells redbankgreen that’s pending approval by the borough zoning board of a change-of-use request, scheduled to be heard later this month. The space is zoned for retail, and needs an OK to sell food for consumption on site.
Bonfiglio says after searching for the right ingredients and oven for the last three years, he isn’t worried about competition nearby.
“We went from none to two. That was not in my plans,” he says of Pazzo’s. But Pazzo’s, he says, “is going to have to be spectacular. Short of spectacular it’s going to be no competition for me.”
The Bonfiglios say they have their game plan all laid out. The restaurant will be specifically known for its coal-fired pizza, with wings and salad added to the family-style menu. The borough is conducting a background check on the couple for their liquor license application, which they obtained from The Olde Union House.
Pazzo’s will also offer booze, courtesy of a license it hopes to buy from the owner of the now-defunct Villa Eduardo Restaurant, and its menu will also offer more than just pizza.
Bonfiglio says he and his wife plan to expand the 2Senza floorplan by knocking down a wall to use the space next door, which is occupied by American Academy of Dance, whose lease is also expiring soon. He intends to utilize as much of the outside for seating to complete his vision for an old-feeling, rustic dining atmosphere.
“It’s going to be a sophisticated place,” Bonfiglio says. “You’re going to want to be here.”
And if you’re not there, then you might be at the Bonfiglios’ other business in the Galleria, a gelato shop down the hall he says will be open in about a month. The space, which used to be a nail salon, will be named Tommy’s Café and will serve cappuccino, espresso and gelato.
“Everything’s already ordered. We’ve just got to pop everything in,” he says.
If it isn’t already evident, Bonfiglio says he wants to make a mark in Red Bank, and eventually, in the state.
“New Jersey doesn’t know what’s in store for it yet,” he said.