By SUSAN ERICSON
After getting pounded flat and spun in the air by commenters, the new owners of Mr. Pizza Slice in Red Bank have reversed course and decided to keep the old pizza recipe on the menu.
As the cheesy paneling came down inside the Monmouth Street slice-and-soda joint earlier this week, new co-owner Nick Napoletano told PieHole that longtime owner Steve Napolitani‘s pizza recipe would be preserved, along with his “signature” fries and hot dogs.
“From the beginning, I wanted to keep the original pie, and after speaking to local people, I quickly realized that is the best thing to do,” Napoletano told PieHole an email. “We want to make people happy and keep their business, not looking to upset the long term customers of Mr.Pizza Slice.”
Napoletano, who owns Whipped Bites two doors away from the pizzeria with Erica Lieberman, bought Mr. Pizza Slice with Tom Capello, owner of Gaetano’s, on Wallace Stree, last month. But Cappello triggered a sauce storm for telling redbankgreen that “nobody knows how to make pizza around here,” and that he’d be using a recipe he perfected over many years running a pizza stand in Seaside Heights before coming to Red Bank 16 years ago.
That triggered waves of blowback in comments on the original story. Cappello told PieHole he regretted the off-the-cuff remark and apologized to the other pizza-makers in town.
For those who have never had the pleasure, the original pizza offered at Mr. Pizza Slice was a thin-crust style pie with a simple tomato sauce. It came in two varieties: plain and pepperoni.
When Mr. Pizza Slice reopens in a month or so, the menu will feature Napolitani’s cheesesteaks, as well as his pies, fries and dogs, Napoletano said. It will also carry Cappello’s Sicilian and Roman pizzas, as well as salads and other items, he said.
The menu makeover was underway as the paneling and garish flourescent lighting were ripped out, exposing long brick walls and a hidden window. The new owners may stick with the exposed brick, which they plan to decorate with pizza peels — the giant spatulas used to move pies in and out of ovens — left behind by the last owner, they said.
Gone, however, are the formica tables and benches occupied by generations of Red Bank Catholic kids at lunchtime and after school. A broken Ms. Pacman machine has being sent out for restoration, with the intention of auctioning it off to raise funds for an as-yet-unspecified charity, Napoletano said.