The Wait Continues at Sag Pizza

Inside Sag Pizza, where food production was in full motion for staff training on Tuesday.

While the newest owners of one of Sag Harbor’s most beloved restaurants — the former Conca D’Oro — have remained tight-lipped on the opening date of the village’s newest Italian eatery, the doors of Sag Pizza were wide open on Tuesday, albeit only for staff training.

It has been over a year since the Venesina family sold Conca D’Oro to Michael Cinque and Laurent Tourondel. The original restaurant opened in 1975, the pet project of Tony and Lina Venesina, who emigrated from Sicily around the same time (the two later passed ownership down to their son, Frankie). Conca D’Oro, in its original iteration, was known for approachable, affordable Italian food and, specifically, pizza — a large cheese pizza, at 18”, cost about $16 and slices were readily available for Little League players and walk-ins alike. The restaurant closed on Halloween night of 2017, after 42 years in business, much to the chagrin of some regular patrons, including Sag Harbor native Jason Dacuk, who ordered ten pies to go and froze them for later consumption.

Cinque, owner of Amagansett Wine and Spirits, has collaborated with Tourondel in the past; the two also own Sag Harbor’s LT Burger, which is located across the street from the former Conca D’Oro space, on Main Street. Tourondel, a native of France, rose to fame in the late 1990s with New York City’s acclaimed Cello, a restaurant that earned him three stars from then-New York Times food critic William Grimes. The chef went on to build the BLT (Bistro Laurent Tourondel) empire, beginning with BLT Steak on East 57thStreet and continuing in New York City with BLT Fish on West 17thand BLT Prime on East 22nd. The BLT group later expanded to include locations in Puerto Rico, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., White Plains, Hong Kong, and more, amassing 28 restaurants and an $80 million dollar business. In 2011, Tourondel suffered an acrimonious split from BLT partner Jimmy Haber, losing control of the restaurant group, as well as many of the restaurants that bore his name.

These days, however, Tourondel still has culinary interests in 14 restaurants, including two in Sag Harbor (LT Burger and the forthcoming Sag Pizza), five in New York City, two in Miami, one in Charlotte, and four abroad. Tourondel has flown under the radar somewhat since his 2007 Bon Appétitaward for Restaurateur of the Year and his 2008 James Beard Award Foundation nomination for the cookbook “Bistro Laurent Tourondel: New American Bistro Cooking.” Still, his presence can be felt in his restaurants, which are executed with precision. Which is to say: LT Burger isn’t your typical burger joint, and one can only expect the same kind of excellence from Sag Pizza, once it arrives.

Outside at Sag Pizza.

Both Cinque and Tourondel have remained relatively quiet regarding Sag Harbor Pizza’s imminent opening. The two have released no photographs of the presumably renovated interior and no information regarding the pizza oven or the style of pizza they hope to produce, nor have they made public any prospective menu, leaving the pizza lovers of Sag Harbor to speculate as to what lies ahead. A glance at the menu on Tuesday as staff trained showed wood-fired, 12” pizza prices between $14 and $18, as well as antipasti including burrata with blistered cherry tomatoes, whipped ricotta with garlic and rosemary focaccia, calamari fritti and Montauk tuna crudo, among other items. Salads were priced between $13 and $15, and pastas from $23 to $27.

According to Cinque, the restaurant opening is in a holding pattern until the village issues a final approval. “We’re trying to open and, as soon as we do, we’ll let you know,” he said. The restaurant will accommodate 80 people, and is seeking the village’s permission to grant outdoor seating. At a June 26 Sag Harbor Village Planning Board meeting, the owners of Sag Pizza received support from the planning board for outdoor seating on its own property, however, the restaurant also needs a separate permit from the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees to host any additional outdoor seating on village-owned sidewalk.

The project’s lead architect Chris DiSunno, has defined the restaurant as a “family-oriented pizza restaurant.” Beyond those details, information about the yet-elusive Sag Pizza—the opening of which village patrons eagerly await—remains to be seen.

Sag Pizza will be located at 103 Main Street in Sag Harbor.