Stephen Menna has been cooking pizzas for twenty years with his father, Stephen Sr., and most recently worked at Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint. While pie people were flocking to the newly opened Juliana's in Dumbo over the weekend, Stephen and his wife Maria were putting the finishing touches on Tufino Pizzeria Napoletana, which opens Tuesday on Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria. Each of the menu's eighteen pizzas bears a personal story: The Nonna incorporates Menna's grandmother’s meatball recipe, while the Pistachianco — made with pistachios, fior di latte, and ricotta — is a shout-out to Chris Bianco in Phoenix. Yet another is named after his neighbor, who suggested combining raisins and prosciutto on a pizza.
Menna is the fifth-generation Stephen (or Stefano) of his family, which traces back to Tufino, a suburb of Naples. It was on a visit there in 2006 with his cousin (and fellow pizzaiolo) Stefano, that sparked Menna's passion to make Neapolitan pies. In Astoria, he has put his wife Maria's name on the restaurant's wood-fired Stefano Ferrara oven, which reaches 1,000 degrees, not only to honor their marriage, but also because Maria once built him his first pizza oven in their backyard as an anniversary gift.
Lettering on the front window of the former furniture store identifies Tufino as a friggitoria, which means it will sell fried arancini, prosciutto croquettes, calzones, and crispy sweets. A small selection of wine and craft beer will be available, and Savva Ioannou, a pastry chef, will make cannolis and profiteroles. Check out the full menu below, and click through to see some pies.
Tufino Pizzeria, 36-08 Ditmars Blvd., nr. 36th St., Astoria; 718-278-4800