SEA BRIGHT PIZZA GUY NARROWS HIS FOCUS

Cono Trezza in his new pizzeria on Ocean Avenue, next door to the old one, at right below. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

There’s too much stuff on the menu, Cono Trezza is saying.

As a customer of Trezza’s Sea Bright Pizza, you might not think so. There’s pizza, some pasta, calzone, salads. Not too much of anything, and everything is arranged in tidy columns, in large fonts, on a single side of a sheet of paper.

But for Trezza, who recently moved his restaurant one door south of its old address into a 14-foot-wide building, everything these days is about narrowing the focus.

“Small works, big doesn’t,” he says.

Trezza, originally from the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, now lives in Lincroft. For four years, he owned and operated Portobello, a 200-seat restaurant on Hope Road in Tinton Falls. “I used to pack them in on weekends. Weekdays were slow, though,” he said.

It wasn’t a situation he was enamored of, even after he eliminated a six-day-a-week commute from Brooklyn.

“The staff, the overloads, the personnel – for one person, it’s too much.”

Trezza, 47, a former “hairdresser-barber,” opened Sea Bright Pizza six years ago. He “liked the ocean,” he said, but also had “a vision” that would simplify his life.

From Portobello’s five-page menu, “I went to three, to two, and then to one. Now, my goal is this,” he said, folding the menu in half.

“I’m not kidding.”

Not that he’s not proud of what’s on it. Trezza says he shops a couple of times a week at Sickles Market in Little Silver and personally picks out every single vegetable used in his dishes – no buying in bulk –  and uses cheeses, canned tomatoes, and olive oil imported from Italy.

“Whatever’s on here, I eat,” he said. “If I don’t eat it, I don’t like it, I don’t sell it. That’s the way I travel. If it’s good for me, it’s good for everybody else.”

Still, “I want to bring it to where it’s only pizza. Maybe not here, maybe next place, but that’s my goal,” he said.

Why not now?

“You can’t just… I’m well known for my chicken parm and my eggplant parm, so it’s kind of hard to get rid of those two,” he said. “I do a lot of volume in the summer, I do a lot of sandwiches to the beach clubs.” Pizza’s the biggest seller, but he’s not ready to cut off other substantial sources of his revenue quite yet, he suggests.

Besides, at the moment, he’s savoring completion of a big project.

Almost two years ago, he bought the space next door to his trattoria, a 14-foot wide storefront that had been vacant for several years after haberdasher Brian George moved his Northshore Menswear down the street. Trezza gradually transformed the building into a cozy, barnlike eating space with bare brick walls, a pressed-tin ceiling and touches of copper. Trezza calls it “a little bit Tuscany, a little bit SoHo loft.”

And he did it his way.

“No borrowing money, no nothing,” he said. “I just worked and then did it, worked and then did it. But I did it the way I wanted to do it.”