Old Napoli meets downtown Jamesport

06/10/2010 12:00 AM |

Dave and Nancy Plath, owners of Grana Wood Fired Pizza in Jamesport, in
front of the Valorian oven they imported from Tuscany to bake their
‘high-end’ pies.

Dave Plath wants to bring a little slice of Naples, Italy to downtown Jamesport — or at least Neopolitan-style pizza.

Mr. Plath and his wife, Nancy, of Hampton Bays, will soon open Grana Wood Fired Pizza on Main Road in Jamesport and if all goes according to plan, the business will open by July 1.

Described as “high-end pizza” by Mr. Plath, said the pizza offered at Grana will be traditional Neapolitan, a recipe that results in a crispier, more flavorful crust.

He said he spent about a decade perfecting his dough recipe.

“It’s definitely not New York pizza,” he said while working on the shop’s interior one recent morning. “Everything is about the dough as opposed to the toppings.”

Mr. Plath said fermenting the dough using his own blend of flour is an 18-hour process. But the pizza, fired at a scorching 800 degrees, takes less than three minutes to cook. He said conventional pizzas are fired at about 450 degrees in a gas-powered oven and take about 15 minutes to cook.

The way the wood-burning oven works is simple. A wood fire is built inside a clay oven, which absorbs the heat, creating a very high temperature. The pizza is cooked right next to the flame inside the Tuscan-imported oven.

The 12-inch pizzas serve about two people, Mr. Plath said. He will also offer Roman-style pizza, which is long and rectangular, by the slice. Pastas, casseroles and paninis, all cooked in the wood oven, will also be featured on the menu. The Plaths also plan to sell high-end coffee and espresso, as well as grab-and-go breakfast items in the morning.

Prices have not yet been determined, but Mr. Plath said they will be moderate.

As to the restaurant itself, the inside has a rustic, farm-country feel with a large mural depicting a wine cellar on the wall. Mr. Plath, whose mother’s family is from Italy, is also considering using large wine barrels as tables. Patrons will be able to order beer and North Fork wine to accompany their meals, he said.

To perfect the pizza-making process, Mr. Plath spent the last 10 years researching Neopolitan pizza, studying at King Arthur Flour in Vermont and the French Institute in New York City.

Grana, which means grated cheese in Italian, will be the only wood-fired pizzeria on the North Fork. Another, Pizzeteria Brunetti, opened recently on Main Street in Westhampton Beach. Other than that, the nearest wood-burning pizza place is in Huntington, Mr. Plath said.

Ms. Plath said she is hoping Grana will attract people from all over the East End.

“I’m really hoping our place will be a destination place,” she said.

The couple think the restaurant venture, which is a first for both, will liven up Jamesport’s sleepy Main Street.

“It’s something other than an antique store,” Mr. Plath said.

Nearby business owners agree. “I think it’s going to bring some excitement to this area,” said Rowena Janis, who has owned Princess Hair Stylists on Main Road for the past 40 years.

“[Jamesport] is like the base of something great,” Mr. Plath said of the hamlet. “It has a lot of potential.”

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