After living on-Island for a little over seven years, I know one definitive thing: Collaboration is what makes this community what it is, and is the driving force that moves businesses on Martha’s Vineyard. The most recent collaboration, one everyone has been excited about, is the teaming up of Joe Monteiro of Pizza di Napoli and J.B. Blau of the Loft.
The Island got to know what authentic Neapolitan pizza was last year when Joe opened Pizza di Napoli on Nevin Square in Edgartown. Instantly, it was the most popular spot in town to grab a slice or a pizza to go, because the pies were incredibly well crafted. Thought was put into every step of the process, from the stretching of the dough to the hand-crushing of the sauce. Lines were out the door for pizza, and the wait at times exceeded an hour. But by the end of the 2016 season, we found out they wouldn’t be reopening in Edgartown. How could the universe give us a taste of incredible pizza for just one summer and take it away forever? Pizza lovers were devastated, but not for long.
On Dec. 11, 2016, J.B. Blau announced on social media that Pizza di Napoli would be opening a year-round location at Loft at Dreamland, and the people rejoiced! Islanders would have that incredibly crispy Neapolitan pizza, one you can’t find anywhere else, at the Loft. And that brings me back to collaboration, because when J.B. heard that Joe was not reopening in Edgartown, he saw the opportunity to team up with a great chef and an even greater concept.
“It became my favorite pizza after trying it last summer, and having the opportunity to bring it to Oak Bluffs year-round was exciting for all of us at Loft,” J.B. said. “We have a large space that fills up by 10 pm, but from 5 to 9 had the potential to be an over-the-top fun pizza lounge. We chose to keep it 21-plus for lounge-in, since with pizza most families get takeout anyway.”
Blau shared plans that, once approved, include adding a pizza window upstairs for late-night Lofters. “We host hundreds of people a night; to offer them food until 1 am is a perfect addition to the room,” J.B. said. It’s safe to note that even though it’s a 21-and-over crowd, takeout pickup is suitable for all ages until 9 pm.
Pizza seems like the perfect food for the Loft: You can share it with friends, it’s easy to consume, and it just brings out the best in everyone. Who doesn’t love good pizza? Whether you’re playing darts with a buddy and sharing a pie, or sitting down to enjoy a few beers with friends, pizza and the Loft seem to be a match made in heaven. The Loft offers not only pizza — because we all have that friend who doesn’t like pizza, and we wonder why we are still friends — but also salads and appetizers, along with the option of ordering off the Chowder Co. menu from downstairs.
I took a step into the kitchen to chat with Joe while he was making pizzas with his sous-chef, Nick Berntson. It was barely 5 pm on a Saturday night, and pizzas were being ordered left and right. The guys were busy, but had a few minutes to heat up a slice for me while I stood in the doorway and talked pizza.
“When J.B. heard that I wasn’t reopening in Edgartown, he approached me about teaming up and bringing pizza to the Loft,” Joe said. “He didn’t want us to lose the momentum our team had created in Edgartown, and saw this as the ideal opportunity to bring to the building.” Joe brushed extra-virgin olive oil onto a freshly made pizza while we talked.
I let Joe finish up the order, and my attention turned to Nick, who was hard at work preparing the pizzas to go into the oven. This past winter, he took time off to travel around the U.S., hitting some major pizza cities and researching all kinds of pies.
“We went from Seattle to Portland, making our way down south to New Orleans, Charleston, stopping in every pizza shop imaginable,” he said while sprinkling the pizza with cheese, a lot of it. Their large pizza is 18 inches, almost one-third larger than any other large pie on-Island. Whether hunger or research drove that trip, it’s interesting to see how invested the team is in this venture, and we’re excited to see them succeed.
In the meantime, you can grab pizza at Loft from 5 pm until late, seven days a week, and until 1 am all summer and weekends year-round, once the pizza window is constructed. Open 362 days a year, pizza at the Loft gives pizza lovers reason to rejoice.
To view the menu online, check out eatMV.com, and for takeout orders call 508-696-3000. If you’re interested in hosting a party or get-together at the Loft, the private front room is available for rehearsals, functions, and fundraisers, and now with the enhanced option of pizza on the menu.
This article originally appeared on mvtimes.com.