Water Street’s Pranzo, shuttered for months because of extensive flooding damage, reopened Thursday at 11 a.m. and was soon filling with customers eager to grab a long-missed piece of cheesy pizza — and wish the owners well.
“We’re so thankful, so happy this day has finally come,” said William Hertz, Pranzo's co-owner. “It’s amazing how much support we’ve felt from the community. Every day we’ve worked on this place, people ask, 'When are you coming back?' It's great that we can finally say, ‘We're open.'"
Coming back to 34 Water St., a space inundated by Sandy’s destructive floodwaters, was no easy feat, said Hertz, 52, who added that repairs cost thousands of dollars.
“It was such a mess — nearly all of our equipment, all of our food, was just wiped out,” Hertz said. “And no money from the insurance company hasn’t made it easy either.”
But relaunching the restaurant, known for its pizza, pasta and other fast-casual Italian fare, was something Hertz and his co-owner, John Chiodi, always saw as a goal.
“It’s in our blood,” Hertz said.
Hertz and Chiodi, who’ve run the restaurant for the past 18 years, first met as teens, while working in pizza shop in Little Neck, Queens.
Years later, Chiodi, who’d left his job at Chase Bank, happened upon a pizza place up for sale at 34 Water St.
“We just thought, we could make this work,” Hertz said. “And this place has been good to us.”
Some of Pranzo's former regulars were thrilled to grab a slice on opening day Thursday.
"I was surprised — and really happy — to see their doors open," said Nick Carey, 30, who works across the street from Pranzo, which means "lunch" in Italian.
"It's a great, solid slice of pizza," said Carey, after chomping down a cheese slice. "Welcome back."