Brooklyn’s famous Di Fara Pizza, which has been family-owned and operated since 1965, has opened a pop-up restaurant located at the Bay Breeze Inn in South Jamesport.
With a vacant restaurant, Bay Breeze Inn co-owner Frank Scarola was trying to envision what would best suit the space Salt & Sea Bistro occupied last year.
“Spending most of my time since March making adjustments at the Bay Breeze Inn, I was shocked to see so many people walking around the neighborhood, walking their dogs, and now walking to the beach. To have a casual pop-up restaurant just seemed to make sense right now in this lively neighborhood,” said Scarola.
Scarola lives part-time on the North Fork, where he owns Scarola Vineyards and is also co-owner of Mattituck’s B&B Cedar House on Sound, but he spends most of the year living in his Garden City residence.
Back in May, he and his long-time friend and Garden City neighbor Michael Mangini, a self-proclaimed “pizza guru,” got to talking about the restaurant’s vacancy. Michael relayed this news to his daughter Shannon, who also shares his passion for pizza.
Two years ago, after leaving a job in finance and taking some time to focus on what she wanted to do, Shannon Mangini noticed that she kept getting drawn to food. Her father, Michael, had been going to Di Fara Pizza for 20 years and over those years befriended Margaret Mieles, the daughter of owner and pizza master Domenico De Marco. At the time, Margaret was expanding the business opening a second location and was looking for someone to manage it. That’s when Shannon began working for Di Fara Pizza.
Responsible for growing the brand’s digital and social media presence and managing the Williamsburg location, Shannon also created interactive experiences for the business’ patrons, including pizza-making classes, which became popular. Along the way she also learned how to make the restaurant’s famous pizza herself.
Since Di Fara’s had already been familiar with freezing and shipping their famous pies around the country using a platform called Goldbelly, Shannon and Margaret knew there was an opportunity to expand the business even farther. Shannon pitched the idea of doing a pop-up at the Bay Breeze Inn to Margaret and they decided to give it a go.
It has been nothing short of a success.
“Even going from week one to week two we’ve seen a lot of improvements and more and more people hearing about us,” Shannon told us in an interview last week. “The response and the feedback that we’ve gotten from customers has been great.”
Shannon now spends her weekends in the kitchen at the Bay Breeze Inn while her father works front-of-house taking orders and talking to neighbors passing by.
“A lot of work does go into it. I make the pizzas in Brooklyn on Thursdays and we freeze and package them to make sure they stay fresh. On Fridays, we then transport the pizzas out to the North Fork where we have a restaurant-grade commercial oven. There, we heat the pies and top them off with extra-virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, and fresh-cut basil.” Shannon told us. “We wanted to make sure it still tasted like Di Fara and the quality was the same and we really feel like it is.”
Di Fara Pizza pop-up is open at the Bay Breeze Inn Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. throughout June. Visit their Instagram page or call 516-428-3255 to view the menu, for info on how to place an order and for future updates.