After nearly two years in the making, Michelangelo Pizza and Restaurant has opened a fourth location in downtown Riverhead.
Chef Paul Zoufaly, one of four owners of the North Fork chain, said Michelangelo of Riverhead held its soft opening Monday, Aug. 5.
While the full menu is available to sit-down and pizzeria guests, he said, the Italian restaurant is holding off on a grand opening until additional kitchen staff members can be hired.
“We’re just trying to iron out some kinks,” he said. “We need some more help in the kitchen.”
Mr. Zoufaly, a self-described “foodie,” has worked in the restaurant business for roughly 20 years. Juggling the role of a chef and owner is difficult because it requires him to teach other chefs to recreate his dishes, he said.
“It’s hard to get someone to cook the way you cook for 20 years initially,” he said, “that’s a challenge I’m having right now.”
Michelangelo —with affiliated locations in Mattituck, Southold and Eastport — is known locally for both its pizza pies and Italian staples like eggplant parmesan, baked ziti and meatball heros.
Mr. Zoufaly said the menu is similar to that of Mattituck and Southold but offers “some different twists.” The pizza served at the Riverhead location, however, is identical to that of the other restaurants.
While he can’t select his favorite dish on the menu, Mr. Zoufaly said he recommends linguine with white clam sauce, veal chop oreganata, baked clams and scarpariello chicken wings. Top sellers thus far include clam and Bolognese pasta dishes, he said.
The building at 300 East Main St. previously housed The Riverhead Project until 2014 and Sonoma Grill until 2016.
In October 2017, Mr. Zoufaly began construction on the eatery with help from property owner Dean Spitaleri. Watching the location come to fruition is rewarding, he said, and he feels confident that the Riverhead location will offer foot traffic.
“I’m just looking to bring something nice to the community,” Mr. Zoufaly, of Bohemia, said. “There’s not a nice Italian restaurant over here.”
The eatery is open from Monday to Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m., and noon-10 p.m. Sunday. The hours are subject to change, Mr. Zoufaly said.