TWO BROTHERS EMBRACE “OLD AND NEW” AND RAISE THE HEAT ON ITALIAN CUISINE BY INFUSING IT WITH A HEALTHY DOSE OF PASSION, AS WELL AS ONE TRULY UNIQUE MENU ITEM
BY CASSIE GALASETT
Every modern Italian restaurant pays homage to what came before, and Via Sposito Coal Fired Pizza and Kitchen is no exception. Anthony and Vincent Esposito Jr., fourth generation brothers and owners, learned not only cherished family recipes but also the ins and outs of the restaurant industry while essentially growing up in the family-run business. Their great-grandfathers migrated from Ercolano, Naples to Brooklyn, bringing favors and traditions from the homeland.
“My dad worked at my great-grandfathers’ restaurant and learned how to cook and run a kitchen as a teen, then passed down those skills to us,” said Vincent Esposito. “It’s from him we learned how to cook and understand how the business works.”
Opening their own Old Bridge establishment in March 2019, the brothers created a from-scratch kitchen, one with an emphasis on taste, authenticity, and fresh seasonal ingredients. They also spent an extended stretch of time perfecting their signature Via Sposito pizza.
“It took us almost a year to develop, and it’s a wonderful experience,” Vincent said. “We make this artisan gourmet pizza in a coal- red brick oven,” applying methods that require both precision and skill. The oven is lit every morning, heats up for at least two hours prior to opening, and close attention must be paid to its “hot spots,” he explained, so the pizza doesn’t burn. Also critical is timing: the cooking must be completed in under three minutes.
The brothers’ lunch and dinner menus also offer ample hot appetizers, savory pasta dishes, oven-baked sandwiches and Paninis, classic soups, and daily specials. Pastas are made in-house daily, as is the “mozz.”
Here, tradition is often favored additionally by a creative edge. Grilled shrimp are wrapped with pancetta and served over broccoli rabe, for example, while the Eggplant Rollatine deals a flavorful punch with prosciutto cotto and soppressata stuffed in with the cheese. Zuppa a preference? At Via Sposito, guests can select whether to add Prince Edward Island mussels, clams, or both.
“We bring a unique ambience, melding old and new worlds,” Esposito said. “And we cut no corners in preparation. All of our cheeses, oils, and meats are imported from Italy, and we grate our own cheese. Our Italian Cheesecake is simply the best, and was passed down from my great-grandmother.” Sicilian-style cannoli, tiramisu, and traditional New York cheesecake, he added, are equally tempting.
Health-conscious diners have options, too. Fresh salads feature seasonal local ingredients and snap with in-season fruit.
There’s also a MAX Challenge-compliant menu (a branded 10-week body transformation system) that includes shell fish, chicken, pasta, vegetables, and a cauliflower crust pizza.
But, for those with a lingering taste for excess, “The 1717” delivers an unforgettable culinary extravaganza. For a cool $1,717, the feast, dubbed “The Pinnacle of Opulence,” consists of Louis XIII cognac-glazed crust (with lobster infused Bechamel sauce) stuffed with sliced homemade mozzarella, white alba truffle imported from Italy, Kaluga Fusion Caviar, Oestra Imperial Gold Caviar, and Golden White Fish Caviar topped with 24K edible gold flakes and served with a complimentary bottle of chilled Louis Roederer Cristal. (Guest note: the dish requires a reservation 72 hours in advance).
The brothers are celebrating Via Sposito’s first anniversary, and both regulars and newcomers can join its Via Rewards program (with dedicated iPhone and Andriod app) that offers special savings, as well as take advantage of “buy one get one at 50% o ” specials (dine-in or pick-up only) Monday through Thursday. Catering is available, too, as is space for business meetings and family celebrations.
3857 Highway 516, Old Bridge / 732.607.2625 (COAL)