What’s Replacing Whole Earth Bakery? A Pizzeria, Naturalmente

P1090270Samantha Balaban construction on 130 St. Marks Place

Whole Earth Bakery, the vegan institution that closed amid controversy last December, will be replaced by a pizzeria and ristorante, The Local has learned. Funny enough, two partners in the new endeavor recently opened restaurants on the same corner of St. Marks Place: Riccardo Pieroni co-owns Ton-Up, the motorbike-themed Italian wine bar across the street, and Huey Cheng owns Kura, the Japanese restaurant next-door.

Michele Bruni helped both of them build their restaurants before deciding to go into business with them and open Falanghina in June.

By then, of course, a reborn Nino’s Pizza will be slinging its own pies across the street. “There is going to be some competition, obviously,” Mr. Bruni acknowledged of the face-off. “But competition made this country.”

IMAG0868Samantha Balaban The construction site.

Though he wasn’t aware Nino’s would be returning, Mr. Bruni said they would be selling “two different pizzas.” The Neapolitan pies at Falanghina will be made in a brick wood-fired oven, with Italian ingredients (the pizzaiolo will also be imported). Pastas, appetizers and a Italian desserts will be made on the premises.

The interior of the pizzeria will have rustic, hand-aged beams and exposed brick on one wall. “When you open the door, you’re in Italy,” said Mr. Bruni, who should know: he grew up there before moving to the United States to attend college at Boston University.

Mr. Bruni, who also got a degree from New York University Stern School of Business, hoped East Villagers would be able to put the Whole Earth Bakery controversy behind them and give his new restaurant a chance. “Sometimes places need some new faces,” he said.

Whole Earth was an East Village institution for more than two decades. The owner, Peter Silvestri, was forced to relocate when the landlord, Ronald Friedman, increased the rent from $3,100 to $5,300 per month, the East Villager reported. Days before the bakery closed in December, a handful of supporters protested outside of the Tarrytown offices of Mr. Friedman, who declined to comment on the matter today.