Neighborhood Pizzerias Get Kids Cooking at Pizza Parties

pizza_02_natalia de cuba romeroPeter Knight from Cub Scout Den 10 shows off his personal pizza.

A new food trend is burgeoning in towns around Long Island: pizza parties where the kids are the cooks. One of our Cub Scout moms heard about it from a Girl Scout mom and next thing you know, Den 10 (Pequott Pack 776) was rolling out dough, spreading sauce and dumping (a lot of) cheese and pepperoni on their own personal pizzas and eating the results at Leonardo’s Pizza across the street from the Massapequa train station.

While some chains have been running this kind of birthday party for awhile, local pizza joints — like Leonardo’s — are making it more simple and less expensive for like-minded parents to get a casual group together (no birthday required) and each pay just $6 per kid for a self-made personal pizza, a few garlic knots and a drink.

Dominick Maffei is the owner of Leonardo’s, which he opened just eight months ago when his family closed Maffei’s Pizza in Manhattan, established by the family in 1975 (and whose Grandma’s pie was an award-winner). He says the make-your-own pizza parties have served as an introduction. “It’s great!” he says. “You really get to know people and talk to people. In New York City it goes too fast. Everyone is just a ‘next!'”

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He supplies a pre-oiled tin, containers of sauce, cheese and a choice of toppings and a ball of dough. “I show them how to do it and then they just go with it,” he says. He puts the pies in the oven and moments later: lunch!

Maffei and his wife Linda work together at the pizzeria, with daughters Victoria, 16, and Isabella, 12, helping out on occasion. His dad, Leonardo, originally from Bari, isoften to chat. You’ll see the family represented in the gondolas hand painted on the wall.

And for people who are serious about their pizza, it should be noted that Maffei makes his own sauce daily from 100 percent San Marzano tomatoes, using Sicilian oregano. The pizza is fired in a brick oven. Since our Cub Scout adventure, that’s where we have been getting our pies!

pizza_03_natalia de cuba romeroMike Fischer and Dominick Maffei man the ovens. 

Leonardo’s Pizza
20 Broadway
Massapequa, NY 11758
open 7 days

Natalia de Cuba Romero blogs on simple and seasonal meals at Hot, Cheap & Easy.