Article by Pamela Silvestri – Staten Island Advance
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Channeling the dough-loving spirit of his late business partner Stephen Licastri, Vito Balsamo will open two new Dough By Licastri operations this year.
The flagship pizzeria and restaurant lives currently in a tiny home — 1456 Richmond Rd., Dongan Hills, 718-668-1600; Doughbylicastri.com. Balsamo says the next venture will be a much larger space with about 20 seats. It will be the new neighbor of Delco Paharmacy at 3831 Richmond Ave., Eltingville. Partners in the project include Fred D’Ottavio and Ally Alfonso.
And after that, the concept will land in a North Shore spot. The lease for the latter location is still under negotiation.
A START WITH STARTERS
Dough By Licastri was established in 2016 with the recipes of Stephen Licastri. His family owned a long-time borough bakery with the Licastri surname, established originally by Philip Licastri, Stephen’s grandfather.
Philip was a dough-maker in Manhattan’s little Italy. He took the ferry to Staten Island and peddled the product on a horse and buggy. With the introduction to new territory, Licastri Bakery was born in 1919 at 33 Olympia Blvd. in South Beach. In 1956, Stephen’s other grandfather (his mother’s father) opened Ciro’s Pizzeria at 1400 Hylan Blvd., Grasmere.
Stephen told the Advance in 2017, “I started working in the kitchen at seven-years-old and was making pizza and pizza dough.”
He became the head pizza man at 14, a well-earned position as Stephen worked alongside his dad starting at 7 or 8 years old. Dad, Ciro Licastri, had toted him along the dough route on weekends.
SPECIALTY PIES AND FOOD
Some of the finer pizzas at Dough are “Bianca’s October Sky” produced with roasted butternut squash, gorgonzola cheese, finely chopped rosemary, dollops of Stracciatella cheese and fine lines of orange blossom honey. The sweetness was designed by Licastri to offset the slight heat from blistered jalapenos. “The Lazy Sunday” is so named for the traditional “Sunday Sauce” dish with a slight deconstruction. It is topped with tomato sauce deepened with character by meatball crumbles, sausage, translucent onion bits plus Stracciatella and pecorino cheeses.
The “papa” of the pizza pack at Dough is the “The Patriarch” — Sfincioni, an unctuous Sicilian pizza baked with anchovy, tomato sauce then sprinkled with bread crumb. The combo is inspired by Philip Licastri.