Shelter Island pizza emergency averted

Shelter Island's only pizzeria, Bella Vita, has closed its doors. (Credit: Monique Singh-Roy)

Shelter Island’s only pizzeria, Bella Vita, has closed its doors. (Credit: Monique Singh-Roy)

When Bella Vita Pizzeria quietly closed its doors about two weeks ago, it appeared that the people of Shelter Island would have to go without pizza, but that’s when local businesses sprang into action.

“As soon as I heard they were closing I had a meeting with everybody,” said Amanda Ellioff, owner of Elli’s Country Store.  “We said, ‘all right , we’ve got to make pizza, we have to make this happen!’ ”

Just open for 18 months, Elli’s is already growing and adapting to the Island’s needs. Originally a gas station and lunch spot, Ellioff has created a lunch and coffee destination. Her daily lunch specials are a magnet for customers, selling out most days. Her kitchen brews coffee until 9 p.m., making it the only place to get a cup of joe in the evening. Now, she is taking on the pizza market.

“When I bought the business I bought it with everything in it and it just so happened that the pizza ovens were already here,” Ellioff said.

Ellioff had been operating fine with just one of the ovens, but had the second one fine-tuned this week in time to begin making pizzas this Friday.

“To start we’re going to keep it simple, we’re not trying to do anything fancy here,” she said.

Elli’s Country Store will begin making small and large pizzas on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 4 to 9 p.m. They will offer basic toppings like pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes and onions.

They also plan to begin making side orders such as hot wings, french fries and mozzarella sticks. As things progress, Ellioff will also offer delivery service, specialty pizzas,  discounts and combo offers.

“If you buy a six-pack, you’ll get a discount on food,” Ellioff said. “For people who don’t drink, we’ll do it with a two liter of soda. This weekend we’ll offer a large pizza, 12 wings, half a dozen appetizers and one liter of soda for $39.”

What sounds like a daunting task is more of a challenge for Ellioff, who has faith in her kitchen staff, which is also expanding for the pizza challenge.

“The people who cook here are very creative,” she said. “We all like to play around in the kitchen, so we’re hoping it will be a fun experience. For the past 10 days we’ve been researching everything about pizza and sauces. Even though it’s just a gas station, our goal is to make good food.”

Another Shelter Island restaurant stepping in to fill the pizza void is Kyle’s. Beginning Dec. 10, the eatery will offer house made pizzas to eat in or take out. Kyle’s will serve pizza Thursdays through Sundays from 5 to 9 p.m. Kyle’s is located at 27 North Ferry Road. For more information call 631-749-0579.

Elli’s Country Store is located at 35 South Ferry Road and is open every day. For more information call (631) 749-2844.

Elli's Country Store owner Amanda Ellioff gets her pizza ovens ready (Credit: Monique Singh-Roy)

Elli’s Country Store owner Amanda Ellioff gets her pizza ovens ready  (Credit: Monique Singh-Roy)