Raising the Bar
A local pizzeria restaurant is
probably the last place you'd
expect to find an upscale wine
bar, but for Ugo Mattei, coowner
of Basil Brick Oven Pizza
on Astoria Boulevard, the new
addition made perfect sense.
38 MARCH 2 0 1 8
FOOD + DRINK
BY LISA YAKOMIN
A native of Campania, Italy, Mattei has
been managing restaurants in New
York City for over 20 years, and longed
to bring the food and flavors of his
childhood to the neighborhood he
now calls home.
“I love living in Astoria,” Mattei said.
“It's a multicultural neighborhood, with great
people who are looking for traditional Mediterranean
cuisine, but also want to eat healthy.
There are plenty of restaurants here, but I felt
that we needed something that was truly authentic,
with great atmosphere, a big selection
of wines, and also affordable.”
Established in 2011, Basil Brick Oven Pizza
was already a local favorite when Mattei took
over in 2016, with a diverse list of 37 specialty
pizzas and a traditional menu of hearty Italian
fare. What was once a 15-seat pizzeria had
grown to a 50-seat dine-in restaurant, but
Mattei saw even more potential there. As a
first step to realizing his vision, Mattei set to
work expanding and elevating the menu.
He brought in chef Fabio DeSantis, adding
lighter seafood dishes and Southern Italianinspired
entrees with nuanced flavors, accompanied
by freshly prepared sauces.
“All of our sauces are made here,” Mattei
said. “It takes three hours every morning, and
nothing is done commercially; we like to say
that we make it the way Grandma would do it.”
It is also their dedication to using imported
ingredients that sets the restaurant
apart, Mattei said.
Basil Brick Oven Pizza debuts new wine bar