My husband and I hadn’t been to That Little Italian Place (TLIP) in Greenport since 2010 – now it’s called Pagano’s Little Italian Place and much has changed. It’s still owned by Joe Pagano but his son Joe Jr. has joined him there as chef. His two daughters sometimes wait tables.
I asked Joe if he’d taught his son everything he knows, and he replied, “I like to say I did.”
It’s hard to believe this fast-moving, trim guy has been making pizza for 38 years. He told us he’s been getting to the gym more often these days, gearing up for the season – he’s sure to be a busy man. This summer they’ll be adding panini to the lunch menu. With warm weather and pizza smells blowing out the front door, Pagano’s will be swamped – especially over Memorial Day weekend. The Tall Ships Festival is due to return to Greenport Harbor May 26-28 and bring 70,000 people to town. That’s a lot of panini! We pointed out that Joe should also be looking forward to the upcoming exhibit at the East End Seaport Museum down the street that same weekend, “Tattoo: Art of the Sailor” – his arms’ art is sailor-worthy.
Picture yourself listening to country music, gazing out at a boat on the water, knocking back a brewski. Easy to do, isn’t it? Since we found ourselves in Greenport in a place that serves Greenport Harbor Ale – Husband ordered up “a taste.” He found it “very fresh, a nice balance of sweet and bitter.”
The biggest change in the restaurant is the addition of a full-size pizza counter and ovens right there behind it. This takes up most of the front of the restaurant. It’s now very handy to pop in for a slice or a whole pie and go. Of course you can still stay in at a table or enjoy the sights at a table out front.
Fear not TLIP fans – that big serpentine bar is still right where it belongs in the back. The evening we visited there was a “Happy Hour” special from noon to 6 p.m.! Mixed well drinks for $1.99 – that’s pretty happy. But maybe their local wines by the bottle are more your speed.
Husband started off with a house Pinot Grigio. We dug into a platter of hot, tender fried calamari. It was pleasantly light and remained one of our favorite dishes of the evening. The baked clams didn’t grab us – they could work for you if you like them bready.
We found the pizza to be straightforward, standard-issue, with a light, crispy crust. The grandma pizza is a basil-forward saucy one. Go for the sesame crust – unless you’re gluten-intolerant – then get some o’ that gluten-free pizza. Joe told us that the Buffalo Style Chicken Pizza is one of their biggest sellers. He pointed out that Pagano’s in Greenport is what Pagano’s in Southold used to be, “a full-blown pizzeria.”
Joe stressed that Pagano’s offers daily dinner specials and that their real osso bucco is a huge hit.
We also tried the shrimp stuffed with tender, shredded crab.
My fave dish was the eggplant rolatini. Apparently rolatini is Italian for “roll of goo topped with tasty cheese.” Such creamy ricotta!
Joe talked us into two small cannoli for dessert. They were nicely chilled and yummy. Pagano’s gets their shells from Lindenhurst, but Joe mixes the filling himself from Ferrara’s creamy finest.
PAGANO’S LITTLE ITALIAN PLACE – Full service gourmet pizzas, pastas, eggplant parmesan and other Italian dishes and daily specials. Full bar. Cozy atmosphere, family friendly. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Wed.-Mon. Closed Tuesday. 110 Front Street, Greenport. 631-477-6767 or 631-765-6109