Shirley is big on pizzerias — it has about 10 — and some in the area have started to change ownership.
Gerard Lombardi, 30, bought the former Mr. Domenic’s Pizza in January in the shopping center anchored by Best Market at the corner of William Floyd Parkway and Montauk Highway before the pandemic and turned it into Gerardo’s Pizza & Pasta, serving authentic Italian cuisine.
When steep restrictions were imposed to prevent the spread of the COVID-19, Lombardi feared for the worst.
“It was tough and the first two weeks I worked on my own,” Lombardi said. “We started curbside and takeout and it worked out, thank God.”
Lombardi has dreamed of opening up his own place since graduating from Shoreham-Wading River High School and has previously worked at other pizzerias.
“I wanted a place of my own and it took me about 10 years, but I finally got there,” Lombardi said. “I felt like this was a good location to have a small pizza place.”
The pizzeria now has specials, such as the Gerardo Special Sicilian, an “everything” pie that includes pepperoni, meatball, sausage, mushrooms, peppers and onions, penne alla vodka, linguine puttanesca and penne marinara.
“We only use the freshest ingredients and it takes us two days to perfect our sauce,” Lombardi said.
Buona-Fortuna Pizza held a grand opening of its third store in October, replacing Romano’s. The location was renovated during the summer and opened for business in August.
“It feels great to be home and back in the community,” said owner John Balbi, a William Floyd High School graduate.
Balbi set his mind on management and later became the owner of his own place.
Buona-Fortuna serves its own interesting twist on pies: pizza cones. They are about twice the size of an ice cream cone and come in different specials every day.
The restaurant’s menu consists of everything from pizza to pasta and even seafood and, despite the pandemic, Balbi said, business has been strong.
“We’ve been open seven days and it’s doing pretty well with our specials every day.”