COURT SQUARE — Call it neo-Neapolitan.
A recently opened Jackson Avenue pizzeria is serving Neapolitan-style pies with a technique its owners say makes it "lighter" than traditional pies.
Levante, located at 26-21 Jackson Ave. near 43rd Avenue, opened a few weeks for lunch service but launched dinner this week for the first time, according to owners Stella Hospitality Group, which also operates the pizzeria Luzzo's BK in Cobble Hill.
The restaurant offers a modern take on traditional Neapolitan pizza, or thin-crusted pies cooked quickly at a high temperature. Levante's wood-fired oven cooks its pizzas at a slightly lower temperature than tradition calls for — around 750 to 800 degrees, according to owner Tony D'Aiuto.
"What we do is unique. We don’t do the true Neapolitan," he explained, saying they allow their dough to raise for 36 to 48 hours before cooking it. "It's almost like aging a steak. All the humidity starts to evaporate, you concentrate the flavor."
The wood-fired oven at Levante. (Credit: Brad Tucker/Levante)
The pies are then cooked in the oven for a few minutes longer than a standard Neapolitan, resulting in what D'Aiuto called "a much lighter pizza."
"It doesn't sit in your stomach. It's very easy to digest," he said. "It’s a Neapolitan style adapted for the 21st century."
The pies are topped with fresh mozzarella and an assortment of organic vegetables and other toppings.
"Every ingredient that goes on top, we roast it in the wood burning oven. That adds a little smokiness to the vegetables," D'Aiuto added.
Levante's menu also includes salads, paninis, a variety of pasta dishes and proteins like grilled octopus and tuna steaks.
The restaurant itself is housed in a 2,000-square-foot storefront with a large backyard, one of several formerly industrial retail spaces on the block owned by Rockrose Development Corp.
"We have a very unique space," said D'Aiuto, adding that he first visited the site about two years ago when the area was even less developed. "We were just blown away by the potential. There are a lot of people coming here and very few places to eat."
The owners are still waiting on their liquor license, but plan to offer an extensive list of Italian wines once it's finalized, D'Aiuto said.
Levante will host a grand opening celebration on Wednesday from 7 to 10 p.m. Space is limited, and those who wish to attend should email firstname.lastname@example.org.