September 12, By Tara Law
A Neapolitan-style pizzeria has opened in Sunnyside that is owned and operated by the proprietors of SoleLuna.
The pizzeria is called Sotto le Stelle, “under the stars” in Italian. It serves wood fired pizza and panini at 44-07 Queens Boulevard, where Venturo Osteria once operated.
There are several New York-style pizza options in Sunnyside, but there are none where the pizza is baked like it is in Italy, said co-owner Valerio Marchi.
Pizza maker Manuel De Gregorio, who is from Naples, bakes the pizza at 900 degrees in an oven imported from Italy. The dough rises for 48 hours, creating a light thin crust.
The ingredients are brought in from Italy to add to the authenticity. Marchi’s experience running SoleLuna, located a few blocks away at 40-01 Queens Blvd., has helped him to find the city’s best Italian food importers.
“Once you already have a restaurant,” said Marchi, “You know who has what.”
Another important component of the pizzeria is the relaxed family atmosphere. The workers are either related to one another or are friends, Marchi said, and customers pick up on the vibe.
The restaurant’s founders are fellow Italians Marchi met while working in New York City restaurant scene. They opened SoleLuna in 2015, a popular venue known for its fresh pasta, pastries and espresso.
Sotto le Stelle offers classical margherita pizza and pizzas topped with sausages, prosciutto and other Italian ingredients. It also serves antipasto dishes, calzones and panini (see menu).
The restaurant has a full bar menu. The space has 30 indoor seats and eight bar seats. Its food is available for takeout but currently not delivery.
Although he has lived in different city neighborhoods, Marchi insists that he would never want to open a restaurant anywhere but in Sunnyside.
“All of my customers— fantastic,” said Marchi said. “I feel like a neighbor. I almost feel like I’m in Italy, everybody knows everybody.”