After a reservations-only soft opening last weekend and a password-only sneak preview yesterday ("that's amore!"), Dino's Tomato Pie throws wide the front doors today at 4 p.m.
Brandon Pettit's (Delancey, Essex) latest opus is a relentless, self-aware ode to New Jersey style — not just to Jersey-style pan-baked square pies, but also to the look and feel of that state's many classic (some might say kitschy) establishments. Old photos on the wall are of friends and family, and include, apparently, one of Pettit's prom pictures. Pettit's wife and co-owner, Molly Wizenberg, wrote about the project this week on her blog, Orangette:
Dino's — which is pronounced deeno, a shortened version of Brandino, the faux-talian nickname some of our friends have given Brandon — is a pizza tavern, modeled on the kind of place you find along the New Jersey Turnpike. It's wood paneling and marbled Formica and a stripped-down menu, pizza and salad and well-stocked bar.
The restaurant was designed by Pettit, Michael Riha, and Tom Clark, with Heliotrope as the official architect and Metis Construction in charge of buildout. As for ambiance like "the statuettes above the bar, the light fixtures, the naugahyde bar stools, the red leather chairs," Wizenberg says that was all Pettit and his "love for eBay and thrifting."
Don't expect nostalgia to be the only thing this accomplished team is selling, though. Wizenberg notes that the gas-powered brick oven will turn out Delancey-style round pies, super-sized to 18 inches instead of 12, as well as the square, or Sicilian, pizzas that are "a little thicker and crisp on the bottom and corners." Eventually, takeout and slices should be available. Expect two types of salad and plenty of interesting drinks, including nitrogen negronis and 11 beers on draft, a full bar, and an "ironic roulette can o beer" for $2.
1524 E Olive Way, (206) 403-1742, website. Open daily 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.