Plans for Michelangelo’s Pizzeria to open on East Main Street in progress

08/24/2018 9:36 AM |

Riverhead Town officials Thursday reviewed a site plan for Michelangelo’s Pizzeria, set to open on East Main Street this fall.

In January, northforker reported that the popular pizzeria and restaurant would move into the former The Riverhead Project and Sonoma Grill building at 300 East Main Street. The restaurant is affiliated with locations in Southold, Mattituck and Eastport.

“We are pleased to expand the Michelangelo’s brand into Riverhead,” owner Dean Spitaleri said Thursday evening. “We look forward to providing great food with friendly service in this historic community.”

According to town planner Greg Bergman, the applicant is seeking to renovate the façade of the existing building and improve landscaping, lighting and signage on the one-acre parcel.

Michelangelo’s will be the third tenant to lease the space, a former bank, since it was renovated into a restaurant in 2011.

Since the building falls in a historic district, the Landmarks Preservation Commission reviewed the application and recommended that the existing exterior marble work be refurbished, Mr. Bergman said. They also recommended that an overhang on the east side of the building be kept.

“It’s a nice drop-off location for people to be sheltered while they’re waiting for someone else to park the car, if it’s raining,” Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said during the work session. Mr. Spitaleri said he’s planning to add some marble accents on that fixture as well. “I don’t think we’re going to cover that, we’ll just decorate it nice,” he told the town board.

On Wednesday, the Architectural Review Board reviewed the application and found no variance would be required for a proposed neon sign in the entryway, Mr. Bergman said.

According to Mr. Bergman, parking was one potential issue he discovered while looking over the plans. “At all the entrances to the parking lot and also peppered along Main Street, there are signs which advertise this parking lot as Maple Avenue municipal parking lot,” he said.

A lease agreement had been in effect from July 2011 through Dec. 2015 between the town and the property owner, Chris Pia. Though that agreement has expired, many visitors use the 43-space parking lot as a municipal lot downtown.

Ms. Giglio suggested Mr. Spitaleri put up private parking signs to alleviate crowding, which Councilman Tim Hubbard anticipates will worsen. “It’s going to be a bigger issue once the apartments come to fruition,” Mr. Hubbard said, adding that a rear structure formerly used for the bank drive-up window could potentially be removed to add spots.

Mr. Spitaleri said he plans to use that for storage.

The current 43 parking spaces will allow for a 129-seat restaurant without seeking variances, Mr. Bergman said. Along with an outdoor seating area proposed, the final number of seats would have to be included in the final plans to get approval.

The site plan is also proposing to remove non-compliant building-mounted lighting, make the Main Street entrance one-way and add arborvitae and flowers on the property.

Mr. Spitaleri is also hoping to construct a walkway on the west side of the property in order to utilize the front entrance.

Dumpster placement would also need to be identified in the final site plan. Town code mandates that dumpsters be enclosed in six-foot fencing. Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith suggested Mr. Spitaleri go with stockade over chain-link fencing. “It just hides [the dumpster] a little bit better,” she said.

Pending final site plan approval, Mr. Spitaleri is planning a November opening.

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