I had gone to Macari Vineyards for wine, as most do. But less than halfway through my day at the iconic Mattituck vineyard, I was met with an unexpected surprise: Pizza. And really, really good pizza, at that.
Avelino, the Macari-based pizza-slinging food truck, is the brainchild of 21-year-old pizza savant Edward Macari, the youngest of the four grandchildren currently involved in the estate’s family business.
Edward spent nearly a year studying in Parma, Italy through a program at the International Culinary Center. It was there that he deepened his love for pizza. Upon his return, he suggested that his family breed Maiale Nero pigs (a black Italian variety known for their use in various types of salumi). The pig family grows with each passing year.
In his quest to make the best mobile pizza around, Edward found a Texas company that converts old shipping containers into usable food trucks. In it, he put a powerful brick oven. “It takes 90 seconds to cook,” he said. The oven operates at a preposterous 800-degrees, producing small, chewy, just-charred pies that rival some of Italy’s best.
The secret to Edward Macari’s pies lies not only in the hot, specially designed oven, but also in his ingredients. In keeping with the Italian tradition, Edward uses canned San Marzano tomatoes. These bright, perfect tomatoes need little more than a quick crush to make the perfect sauce, which is then topped with mozzarella sourced from Brooklyn. Dough is made with the time-tested 00, a finely ground and powder white Italian flour. A massive greenhouse in the heart of the 500-acre Macari property provides plenty of produce for a rotation of pies. Currently, Edward is using his own hot peppers, as well as honey from the family apiary, to dress his spicy-sweet diavolo pie.
Pizzas are available both to stay and to go—Edward boxes up pies for those headed to the winery or elsewhere, though he suggests staying put. “We encourage people to eat it here,” he said, telling me that the pizzas are best served hot. I can’t quite disagree. I ate a margherita pie almost in its entirety while it was still oven-hot, and that’s the best way to do it, though I was still impressed with my take-home diavolo, some of which I ate lukewarm in the car.
Avelino’s rotating menu currently features four pies and a special. Diners can expect pie selections to change with the changing seasons, as produce becomes more or less available. At $15 to $20 a pie, they’re not cheap—nor should they be. These are artisanal, crafted pizzas, made with incredible ingredients and incredible skill. Pies are available until the dough runs out—that’s about 150 pizzas a day, for anyone who’s counting, and with fall on the North Fork in full swing, you should probably arrive early. Like, get there now.
As for Avelino’s future, well, that’s still up in the air. Edward hopes to utilize fully the pizza-on-wheels concept, which means that Avelino may be road tripping sooner than later. The team expects that the truck will eventually be available for private party rentals, too. But for now, it’s parked in the rear of the massive Mattituck tasting room on the family property, flanked by wrought iron tables and chairs for those snacking outside. On a recent fall afternoon, I watched most of Edward’s fine pies disappear into the winery, where happy afternoon drinkers created their own pizza and wine pairings. I heard zero complaints, the evidence of which—empty plates and boxes everywhere—was all around me. Suffice to say: I’ll be back.
Avelino, Macari Vineyards, 150 Bergen Avenue, Back, Mattituck, open Thursday through Sunday, noon until dough sells out.