The Lower East Side may be increasingly knee-deep in pizzerias, but not every pizzaiolo is a champion. As it happens, Hakki Akdeniz is: He was a member of the U.S. Pizza Team 2009 and 2010, and won the dough-stretching contest one year. Akdeniz already has one eponymous shop in the neighborhood, at 170 Rivington Street, where, as he tells us, "we're always busy." So, after a successful trial run Friday and Saturday, he'll roll out his second location at 123 Essex tomorrow — and a third shop closer to Chinatown is in the works. As you can see in the photo, Akdeniz's accolades adorn the walls of the small space (that's a photo of the pizzaiolo with Keanu Reeves on the right). Hours will be 10 a.m. till 1 a.m. Monday through Wednesday. From Thursday through Saturday, the shop will stay open till 5 a.m. — though at that hour it's unlikely anyone will care whether their pizza-maker is famous or not.
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