In an Italian neighborhood, it is difficult to stand out among competitors in the food industry. At M & G Pizzeria, The Cicillini family has carved a local niche, combining solid cooking with tradition, to claim their piece of the pie in Whitestone.
Marinara sauce runs through Theresa Cicillini’s veins. A second-generation pizza maker, her father emigrated from Rome and owned many businesses, including a Pizzeria in Willets Point, the place where Theresa mastered her craft. Over four years ago, Theresa and her husband, Sandro, opened M & G Pizzeria. In regards to Sandro, she said, “I have four kids, and one of them is 38.”
On July 7, 2007, their little pizzeria was burnt down thanks to an electrical fire. They were closed for four months, and rebuilt their store from the bottom up and slowly regained their customers, while trying to find new ones as well.
It is hard not to feel like family once inside the tiny pizzeria, which sits about 18 people. Theresa coddles you from the moment you walk in, like only an Italian mother can. A very accommodating chef, she said, “If I have the ingredients, I’ll be more than happy to make it for you.” She is proud of her inventive cooking, which on this day included pizzas laden with Chicken Marsala and taco fixings! Penne Alla Vodka was thick and creamy, with scallions and bacon adding a unique background flavor to the smooth orange sauce. Smoky sweet Sausage and Peppers, made with local vegetables and meat handmade by the local butcher, was Italian comfort food straight from “The Boot” itself. The long paddle of poultry that was the Chicken Parmesan, had a thin flaky layer of breadcrumbs, something not often seen in many Italian restaurants where many cooks pour on the tomato sauce to hide their sub par meat.
Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs, twirled into the white concave plate, brings thoughts of a traditional Sunday meal in an Italian house. Their tomato sauce has a sweet basil flavor with a lack of acidity, and is generously poured over an enormous meatball, freshly made with a soft flavorful inside. When asked if there is a secret ingredient, Theresa quaintly answered, “Love.”
In all my pasta madness, I completely forgot about their namesake - Pizza! With fingers nimble like a pianist, Theresa stretched the pale dough, ladled her family marinara sauce on top and sprinkled cheese like a light snowfall before sending it to the oven. Minutes later, a bubbling cheesy baby was pulled from the oven!
Copper strands of mozzarella stuck to the plate as I brought the slice towards my mouth, wary of the impending pizza burn. The crust was light and airy, while maintaining a slightly malleable crispiness. Theresa admitted her favorite thing to make and eat was a fresh plain pizza pie, straight out of the oven.
Desserts, much like her pizza concoctions, vary daily. I had missed her legendary Tiramisu, but was delighted to eat her warm chocolate chip cookies, moist and overloaded with dripping morsels. This confirmed that this woman was my long, lost mother.
While the appearance cannot compete with the upscale restaurants in the neighborhood, the food at M & G Pizzeria could go the distance any day. Local ingredients, intimate service and passion for what they do makes the Cicillini family a force to be reckoned with in the Whitestone pizza scene. Come in and eat with your new Italian mother!
M & G PIZZERIA
19-05 Utopia Parkway
Whitestone, NY 11357
Hours: Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday
from noon to 9 p.m.
Credit Cards: MasterCard, Visa