How do you like your pizza? The Astarita of Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn, serves its pies with a helping of affordable remodeling ideas. Architects Thom Dalmas and Bretaigne Walliser of Remodelista favorite TBo (for Thom Bretaigne Office) specialize in the domestic sphere, but when longstanding clients, Carmine and Tina Casale, decided to open a pizzeria, the couple agreed to design it.
The Casales both hail from Italy and Tiny’s family ran a Neapolitan pizzeria. They also happened to own a single-story, historic brick building ready for reinvention. Of course, their longstanding dream required a quick turn-around on a tight budget. Masters at applying humble materials in inventive ways, Bretaigne and Thom eagerly rose to the task—and gained a new favorite hangout: “We sought out a few impactful moves to highlight the charm of this little spot and to create something earthy and comforting—and, we hope, just a little unexpected,” says Bretaigne, who adds, “The food is insanely good; everyone we know in the neighborhood is hooked.”
Here are five TBo approaches worth considering for own cost-conscious remodel, add your own toppings.
1. Mix custom elements with off-the-rack supplies.
The outside space is demarcated by large Fluted Planters—”these are concrete instead of terracotta because it’s more durable for East Coast winters,” says Thom.
2. Hang curtains as flexible partitions.
The curtain fabric—a Robert Kaufman velveteen in Bonsai Green— is a surprise counterpart to the red pizza oven imported from Naples. A bar with a cement troweled front and a knife-edge wood counter anchors the space between the two. Note the tall ceiling with exposed wooden joists.
3. Draw and paint on your walls.
Artist Will Karlen, (who happens to be Thom’s nephew) has worked at Eleven Madison Park as “resident artist” creating commemorative sketches and mementos for patrons and was recruited for the project.
4. Set a pleasingly simple table.
Above: The ash tables and benches were built for the space. The Asheville Wood Ladderback Dining Chairs, $178, came from the Dixie Seating Co. of Statesville, NC, which, in addition to natural, offers them in 22 colors. Ikea fluted glasses are paired with plates and flatware from Restaurant Depot, one of many restaurant ware sources notable for sturdy, affordable basics.
5. Upgrade the floor with inlaid tile.The Astarista Pizza is at 797 Fifth Avenue in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn. “At night, the space glows and the aroma of fresh pizza wafts through the neighborhood,” says Bretaigne.
Here are two more favorite TBo projects:
- An 1890 Brooklyn Townhouse, Reinvented for Modern Times
- One for All: TBo Updates A Brooklyn Townhouse for Multigenerational Family Living