If you were confused yesterday or today by the open doors at the Pizza Box Brick Oven Pizzeria in Mastic Beach, which closed under its previous owner in July after five months, there’s a reason for that: the restaurant opened again with a soft launch and will be renamed Aliyana’s Pizzeria in the coming days.
The new owner, Juan Cortes, 38, of Manorville, is a familiar face. He owned the same location for seven years when it was Valentina Brick Oven Pizzeria and Restaurant, before it was sold to the Pizza Box operator. And Victor “Machoe” Santiago, who has worked at the 520 Mastic Road location for the past 10 years under various owners, is back as the restaurant’s manager.
Other incarnations have included DiNapoli’s and Mastic Pizza & Cafe`.
Cortes said he took over the operation again in part at the request of the landlord, and because of his devotion to the employees who lost their jobs and to the community. The new name is in honor of his 2-year-old daughter Aliyana; Valentina is his 17-year-old daughter.
However, he’s only planning to be an interim owner.
“After 20 years making pizza, I can’t do it,” Cortes said. “I hope to find a great owner,” adding that he hopes Santiago takes over from him.
“We always made a great team together,” Cortes said.
Santiago, 46, of Mastic, said the restaurant’s top sellers are its fresh-made gyros, as well as buffalo pies and chicken bacon ranch pies. Its offerings also include burgers.
As a message to the community, he said: “We would appreciate if people would come in and support us.”
Monday-Friday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Above: Victor “Machoe” Santiago is the manager of the recently reopened pizzeria at 520 Mastic Road, which will be named Aliyana’s Pizzeria. Santiago has worked at the location under various incarnations for 10 years.