After selling the pizzeria roughly eight years ago, has returned to St. James in the same spot on Lake Avenue it once occupied, bringing back the famed garlic knot pizza to locals.
Nick Grimaldi, owner of Nicky G’s, said the most wonderful thing about being back in St. James is how well people remember the pizzeria while being away for so long.
“[I’m] just a regular pizza guy and the people remember me eight years later, I’m astounded,” he said.
Grimaldi said he tried to open up a dining room area before selling, but problems with Wastewater Management permits from Suffolk County prevented him from doing so, sparking his decision to leave. He said at the time he didn’t see the business growing much more as it was.
After submitting the proposal for the dining room nearly 10 years ago and Grimaldi no longer the owner of the establishment, he said Suffolk County finally gave the dining room plans he submitted the green light. Around that time an offer was made to him to buy back the the pizzeria, an offer he couldn't refuse.
The Port Jefferson native bought the pizzeria back in October 2011, now with the dining room he had always wanted, bringing him back to the community that embraced him since he opened 15 years earlier.
“I always liked being here, I’ve always liked St. James. It’s a great town, great people, always were very friendly – I enjoyed it here,” he said. “When I got the opportunity to come back here I was excited, I definitely wanted to take the place back over and put it together the way I wanted to.”
Now Nicky G’s is more than a pizzeria you hit for take-out; it's a casual eat-in dining area that seats roughly 40 people. Grimaldi said with the addition he plans on offering a regular all-you-can-eat pizza night and pasta night, starting within a month or so.
While the location has grown and plans to offer more deals to attract customers, not everything has changed – especially with the garlic knot pizza.
Grimaldi, who prides himself on being a pioneer braiding garlic knots into a pizza crust, said even after eight years away it’s still the most popular slice.