by Robert Fernandez
Hey, pizza… you’re fired!
… in a wood-fueled oven at 800 degrees in just 90 seconds.
That’s the gimmick at Chipp Neapolitan Pizza (2971 Ocean Avenue), Sheepshead Bay’s newest pie-tossing eatery, and the brainchild of former The Apprentice contestant Lenny “The Russian” Veltman. It’s the first in what he hopes to be an empire of classed-up pizza joints across the nation.
“We wanted to create a modern lounge much like a Chipotle or Panera Bread store, not another take out pizza joint. Somewhere you’d go on a date, sit back with a beer or a glass of wine while eating the best pizza in the city,” said Veltman.
Focusing on high-quality ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella di buffalo, Prosciutto di Parma and Caputo 00 flour, this “Verace Pizza Napoletana”-certified cook and his partners are aiming to take on the Brooklyn pizza legends.
“Grimaldi’s is crap. DiFara awful. Totonno’s garbage,” said the chef.
“You can’t cook pizza using coal,” Veltman added. “It burns too hot and dries out the ingredients.”
Veltman said he designed the oven himself, even hand-selecting the colored glass tiles that decorate the bulging dome. It was built by Neapolitan craftsmen, and operates continuously at 800 degrees fueled by an oak fire.
“Keeping the fire at 800 degrees or higher, produces a perfectly cooked pizza in about 90 seconds,” said Veltman. The pizzas are “true Neopolitan style with a light crisp crust that is soft in the middle.” It’s mean to be consumed with a fork and knife.
Chipp is unusual for a Brooklyn pizza joint as it does not offer slices, but only individual pies. Selections range from a “Marinara” – tomato sauce, oregano and garlic – and no cheese – to the namesake of the store “The Chipp,” which piles on Mount Vesuvius tomatoes, parmesan, fresh basil and caramelized Cipollini onions. They currently offer 14 pies with the traditional red marinara sauce base and five “Bianco” or white pizzas. Of course you can build your own, with over 30 toppings to choose from. Prices range from $8.50 to $15.75. Chipp also offers a choice of five salads and a selection of beer and wine.
Veltman and his partners have some big plans for the budding chain, which will have an official grand opening on Monday, November 22.
“This is only our first store. We’re building an empire here,” he said.
They plan to open at least five additional lounges in Brooklyn, and then head to Boston and Philadelphia. At that point, the cartoon Cipollini onion that is their mascot will be redesigned with a crown, Veltman said.
And for those doubting that a national brand can get it’s start in Sheepshead Bay, think again. After all, Veltman’s former boss, Donald Trump, did it.