FROM CHROMA TO CRUDO, THIS VIBRANT NORTH SHORE MODERN ITALIAN EATERY IS COMMITTED TO CELEBRATING LA DOLCE VITA
BY AMANDA McCOY • PHOTOS BY VIOLET KARYN PHOTOGRAPHY
Oak wood burns at the highest temperature,” explained Italian restaurateur Vincent Malerba when describing the origin of his newest venture’s name, Flour and Oak.
“That’s why you use oak to cook the best pizzas, and you, of course, need flour to make the pizza.”
Malerba, who co-owns and operates the fine dining staple Angelina’s Ristorante in Tottenville and the family-forward Angelina’s Kitchen in New Springville, was looking to expand when a space opened up along the North Shore. A former pizzeria with a tremendous oak-fired pizza oven, Flour and Oak had exactly the bones he was searching for, and he and his partners leaped at the opportunity. The contemporary-chic Italian fusion restaurant and bar would be a completely new vision for the Malerba family; rather than white tablecloths or rustic wooden wall paneling illuminated by candlelight, they splashed the restaurant with vibrant color and abstract art. The “ tables aren’t meant for holding hands they are meant for dancing upon as the beats from a live DJ swell the space every Thursday through Sunday night.
“This is a totally different concept,” said the co-owner. “The menu is Italian with French and Japanese influences; it’s a bit trendier and more modern. The restaurant also has a nightclub atmosphere. People have fun – they dance on chairs and tables.”
Plush booths line the interior, positioned under a colorful tapestry of art, chroma, and vintage Playboys. The owners brought in local artists to color the walls with playful Barbie mosaics, graffiti, and cheeky sculptures. Curating the décor was a robust undertaking, and in fact, while Malerba noted they were lucky not to experience any pandemic-related delays, they did hold off scheduling the restaurant’s grand opening until the art display was complete.
Angelina’s veteran executive chef Vincenzo Galia the architect behind the menu of all of the Malerba family restaurants spearheaded the cuisine, joined by Oliva Tiedemann, chef de cuisine, who is new to the mélange and Malerba described as “excellent.” The dishes are all rooted in classic Italian fundamentals, but they are buzzing with vibrant flavors from all over the globe. Tender fairytale eggplant, for instance, is stuffed with buffala mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes, then cocooned with kataifi dough and topped with scratchmade tomato sauce and smoked scamorza fondue. A tempura burger is crafted of cod fish tempura on a brioche bun with Boston lettuce, avocado, tomato, pickled onion, and cayenne pepper mayo. There’s a signature crudo “raw” in Italian that changes daily.
“This is a totally different concept. The menu is Italian with French and Japanese influences; it’s a bit trendier and more modern.”
The pastas are made in-house, and the selection is eclectic. Half a lobster is served with traditional tomato sauce and linguine, while carnaroli risotto is bathed in roasted red beet extract and dusted with gorgonzola cheese and hazelnuts. But the oak wood does its best to steal the show, bubbling pizzas like the San Daniele, made with buffala mozzarella, homemade tomato sauce, San Daniele prosciutto, baby arugula, and shaved parmigiana. The Bronte is crafted of traditional Sicilian focaccia with mortadella di Bronte, stracciatella cheese, truffle oil, baby pistachio, and pistachio.
The menu is fronted with “Whatever They Felt Like Cooking Today,” a rotating list of specials that spans anything from East Coast James River oysters with dragon fruit to a grilled 40-oz porterhouse for two. The list changes three times per week…most of the time. “It’s basically whenever they feel like changing it,” Malerba said with a laugh.
All culinary offerings change with the seasons, and after several weeks of taste testing, the chefs are currently rolling out their fall menu. This also includes signature cocktails, which strive to be as eclectic as the dishes themselves.
“In the summer, we were serving a lot of champagne spritzers and a specialty drink called the Hot Girl Summer, which was essentially a twist on the spicy margarita. Now, for fall, we are adding bourbons and heavier cocktails. We have an incredible premium bourbon and tequila list.”
And for anyone with a penchant for bubbles (and an Instagram account), the Moët vending machine dispenses bottles of the French bubbly to bring back to the table. A live DJ spins every Thursday through Sunday night, and on Sunday mornings? Malerba encourages his Staten Island neighbors to bring their pups for Doggie Brunch. While diners feast on house bread topped with lobster, avocado, pickled jalapeño, and red radish, their pups can choose from a menu of bone-shaped banana pancakes, pumpkin flavored risotto, and grilled chicken chopped salad. Bubbles and Brunch will also soon kick off on Sundays.
Flour and Oak
12 Minthorne Street / 646.949.8988 / flourandoak.com