Big changes ahead for Pizza Jeans at Ponce City Market

Nina & Rafi owner Billy Streck joins the team, while the restaurant prepares to move to the 1st floor

Margherita pizza

Courtesy of Jamestown

Courtesy of Jamestown

Earlier this month, Chris Wilkins announced the closure of his Ponce City Market bakeshop Root Baking Co. Now, the James Beard-nominated chef is moving his sister business, Pizza Jeans, from the 2nd floor to a new home in the food hall, where Farm to Ladle currently stands. (The salad-sandwich-soup shop’s last day in business is May 1.)

At the same time, Wilkins is bringing on two new partners to operate Pizza Jeans: restaurateur Billy Streck—of Nina & Rafi, Pielands, Hampton & Hudson, Lyla Lila, and Cypress Street Pint & Plate—and his childhood friend Jeremy Gatto—who managed restaurants for famed New York City chefs Mario Batali and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

“I’m super excited. It’s a little surreal how things come together,” Streck says. “Chris is an amazing person, and it just seemed like the right fit. I couldn’t say no. I love the partnership.”

Pizza Jeans will continue serving “giant mall slices” and pies from its current space until it reopens downstairs in late summer or early fall.

White pizza

Courtesy of Jamestown

“There’s more traffic coming in and out of there, which means more exposure,” Streck explains. “We all agree we can grow this concept. We’d like to grow with Jamestown as they have new spaces available.”

Although the new space is nearly half the size of the original, Pizza Jeans will add new offerings to its menu, including a few new hero sandwiches and more cocktails, such as a Jack and Coke slushie, spicy Paloma, and pickleback shot with house-made pickle juice. It’ll continue to offer biodynamic, organic, unfiltered wines from female-owned vineyards. Limited bar and counter seating will be available.

Streck is quick to add that his work with Pizza Jeans in no way conflicts with his ownership of pizza spots Nina & Rafi and Pielands. “At Nina & Rafi, we’re known for Detroit style,” he says. “Pizza Jeans is about the dough and the sauce—it reminds me of Brooklyn-style. Pielands is a hybrid of New York City and upstate New York with cheese on the bottom and sauce on top. It’s a little thicker than Pizza Jeans.”

Streck takes a unique approach to partnership. Rather than focusing on one partner to grow his restaurant empire, he pairs up with different people for each project.  “I want to help entrepreneurs open places. I like to put people in the right places,” he says.