The Pizzeria takes shape in Babylon; owners announce early 2024 opening

The Pizzeria founders are from Long island

What will be The Pizzeria’s largest location on Long Island is taking shape at the corner of Main and Cooper streets in Babylon.

The owners expect an early 2024 opening.

The Pizzeria, which started with a Smith Haven Mall food court spot in July 2020, currently counts four other locations on Long island as well: Bayport, Islip, Bay Shore and Lindenhurst.

Babylon will be the company’s sixth, and “it’s going to be gorgeous,” said Paul Saccoccio, who founded the company with his brother Dan and their childhood friend, Cliff Weinstein.

Just check out these example renderings, courtesy of Bouler Pfluger Architects in Bay Shore:

Like with the old Cooper Street, a restaurant that stood in this location for decades, The Pizzeria in Babylon will also feature a rectangular bar, which will seat 32, but it’s being moved closer to Main Street.

A banquet will run across the western end of the 5,000-square-foot building. The pizza counter will be toward the back and measure 36 feet. And the front of the building will be lined with eight-foot windows.

“It’s going to be bright and airy,” Weinstein said.

Here’s how the space looked Friday with the old Cooper Street restaurant completely gone:

DJT Development of Holtsville began work on the project in March. (Michael White)

“We’re always very cautious that all these stores say casual,” Paul explained. “We want everyone … the lawyer, the local businessman, the guy from the job site, the kid coming in from the beach, to feel welcome. We want it to be approachable, like our Pizzeria brand.”

“Approachable but also timeless,” added Weinstein. “Not super trendy.”

How Babylon happened

First, the partners have a map of Long Island that’s inked with circles around villages and hamlets in which they want The Pizzeria to plant a flag.

“But we’ve been eager to find a location in Babylon since we started in 2020,” Weinstein said.

One day Weinstein and Paul were together in Paul’s car and approaching the village’s everyday traffic crawl along Main Street. They found themselves stuck at the light in front of the Cooper Street restaurant, which was still open.

“We look up and I’m like, ‘That would be a great spot’ for a Pizzeria,” Paul recalled.

“That would be a home-run spot,” Weinstein replied.

“Two weeks later I’m at the bar at The Pizzeria in Bay Shore with a local real estate agent who I’m friendly with,” Paul said. “And he goes, ‘Any interest in Cooper Street?'”

Paul was very interested.

The partners “sprinted” right over.

By February they were in business with a lease in Babylon. Work started in March.

What’s in store

“We’re trying to make this the community spot. The soccer moms can bring their kids here after practice. If you want a drink, you can get a casual drink,” Paul said. “Or you just want to relax and have a slice of pizza. We want this to be the village’s go-to spot where you’re comfortable. And we just really want to immerse ourselves here and become, well, Babylonians.”

Aside from the pizzas, catering and Italian dishes, which all get rave reviews, the partners emphasize that they’re not running a pizza company, but a hospitality company.

“Our job is to give people a feeling,” Paul explained. “We want you to be greeted with a smiling face behind the counter, bartenders who know your name. That’s what we’re in this business to do, make people happy, to giggle and laugh … We want them to think, ‘I don’t know what it is, but there’s something different about this place and it makes me feel good.'”

Top: Long Island buddies and The Pizzeria’s founders, Cliff Weinstein and Paul Saccoccio, at their future Babylon location on Friday. Not pictured is fellow co-founder Dan Saccoccio. (Michael White)

Work underway at The Pizzeria in Babylon at the corner of Main and Cooper streets. (Michael White)
Cooper Street (above) had operated for decades in the village, though the exact dates couldn’t be determined. This is what the building looked like in February. (courtesy photo)
And here’s what Cooper Street looked like inside in February, before it was gutted.(courtesy photos)