NEW YORK - When we last saw 31-year-old Gabriele Lamonaca he stood on a Midtown street corner bartering away one of his signature and social media-famous burra-pizzas — crafted from 96-hour dough, imported flour, homemade pesto and burrata cheese, in his Harlem kitchen — for some homemade pasta made by the chef of an Italian restaurant in Gowanus, all the while still dreaming of a pandemic-abated New York City that might allow him to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant where he could sell his pies for money.
"I will make a pizzeria," Gabriele told Fox 5 in March.
"The dream became reality," Gabriele said Friday, inside his just-opened pizzeria in Union Square.
Gabriele and his partner Salvatore opened Unregular Pizza at the end of May.
"The oven got bigger suddenly," he said.
While professional pizza ovens upped his production from three pies a week to 80 pies a day, his girlfriend got her apartment kitchen back ("she's really happy to have me out of the house") and Gabriele finally accepts currency payments for his work, the bartering continues.
Every day, Gabriele rings a bell to welcome those into the restaurant who have signed up online to trade some something ("from homemade food to performances, pieces of art") for an Unregular pie, carrying on this pizzeria's Instagrammed pandemic origins and a family tradition started by Gabriele's grandmother, who bartered fresh-baked bread for chicken eggs in a small Italian village after the Second World War.
"We got busy the very first day we opened," Gabriele said.
Gabriele's pandemic bartering partners have become some of his first and most loyal brick-and-mortar customers, finally able to choose the flavors of as many Unregular slices as they want, instead of receiving just one of Gabriele's at-home, test-kitchen, trial creations.
"They're so passionate about the product," Gabriele said.
Unregular Pizza | 135 4th Ave., New York, N.Y. 10003 | 646-609-4699 | unregularpizza.com