UPPER EAST SIDE — The Original Zesty's is back.
Stephano Grimaldi, who was forced to close his family's three-decade-old pizzeria at East 95th Street and Third Avenue last year, finally found a new spot to dish out his popular grandma pizza slices.
“I’m very, very excited to be back," Grimaldi, 29, said of the new spot just a couple blocks from the old one, which will open this fall. "I’ve been telling everybody in the neighborhood and I’ve called back my old workers to ask them to come back."
The new Zesty's at 1670 Third Ave. between East 93rd and 94th streets will bring back the former location's expert pizza maker, who will craft pies piled with homemade tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese.
The pizza-focused menu will still feature the Zesty's Special slice with mushrooms, broccoli, roasted peppers and chicken, but the revamped eatery will also sell cold sandwiches stuffed with Italian meats like prosciutto. The restaurant will be renamed Zesty’s Pizza and Salumeria, which means "delicatessen" in Italian.
Grimaldi's father, Salvatore Grimaldi, opened The Original Zesty's in 1983 and kept it afloat until the landlord refused to renew the lease last year. The pizzeria's former home at 1693 Third Ave. is slated for demolition, according to a permit filed with the Department of Buildings.
"I liked working there...but seriously it's nothing like working on the Upper East Side," said Stephano Grimaldi, who started working in the family-owned pizzeria when he was 14.
He spent the past year and a half scouting spots in the neighborhood, in the hopes of returning.
“I've been looking two blocks away — maximum — from my former store. I wanted to come back to this area. I have a very strong bond with these people,” said Grimaldi, who lives in Queens.
After seeing dozens of spaces, Grimaldi finally found the right one: a 2,300-square-foot former laundry, which has a 600-square-foot backyard terrace that Grimaldi plans to turn into a "paradise."
Salvatore Grimaldi, 60, will remain in Queens to manage Sal's, while his son devotes himself to Zesty's full-time.
The Grimaldis hope to open Zesty's for Labor Day weekend, or October at the latest.
The prices will be slightly higher, with a whole pie going for $20 instead of $16, but Stephano Grimaldi said he wanted to keep costs reasonable even as the menu grew and real estate costs rose.
“We’re still the same old Italian family restaurant, serving the neighbors and the construction workers," he said. "But at the same time, we’re expanding."