Located on the border of Sheepshead Bay and Marine Park, Pizzeria Del Corso (3003 Avenue U) is a neighborhood secret waiting to be exposed to the world’s pizza connoisseurs.
Owner Nino Coniglio, 24, is reviving a fading tradition of pizza tossing, attracting customers with acrobatic dough spinning. It’s a sport he knows well – before opening Del Corso in 2008, Coniglio was a triathlon-winning member of the U.S. Pizza Team.
It’s not all about flash at Del Corso. Coniglio is a pizza pie purist. He makes all the essentials in the pizzeria’s kitchen. The sauce isn’t the canned “pizza sauce” prevalent in today’s pizzerias; he concocts his own from imported Italian tomatoes. He makes his own mozzarella cheese from curds delivered daily. He grinds, seasons and packs his own sausages.
But the pizza is as notable for what you won’t find in it. Inauthentic ingredients like chicken are strictly off limits.
Coniglio started in the business at 12 years old. He bumped around different pizzerias, working for free and learning from masters – eventually earning a mentorship under legendary Dom DeMarco, owner of DiFara’s Pizzeria in Midwood.
On a family stay in Italy, Coniglio learned the elements of traditional Italian cooking when he decided to take a three-month walk, stopping at homesteads along the way and exchanging cooking talents for a roof. It’s that adventure that gave him the skills to branch out beyond pizza. Pizzeria Del Corso’s restaurant menu and specials surprise Sheepshead’s residents with many unique dishes most American Italian eateries would balk at.
It’s a tough economic climate to be launching a business in, and things aren’t perfect at Del Corso. So far there’s been frequent staff changes, meaning some inconsistency in the pizza and service. But time will give the 24-year-old owner more experience, and when Pizzeria Del Corso pushes past the early stumbling blocks, Coniglio’s reputation will take hold as a pizza master and proven Italian chef.
Video produced by Corinne Marro for Sheepshead Bites.