In September, the vacant space which was most recently the location for Aliyana’s Pizzeria, at 520 Mastic Road in Mastic Beach, reopened under new ownership. While various establishments opening in this location is nothing new, the fact that the new sole owner is Anthony Miller, a 19-year-old, 2020 graduate of William Floyd High School, is something to take note of, as it’s not every day that someone so young has the drive, vision, and determination to open their own business, especially with the odds seemingly stacked against him.
However, this doesn’t seem to deter the excitement of Miller, his proud mother, Bettyann—who works there on Fridays and Saturdays—or his large extended family, who was there to support him in his new business venture while enjoying the delicious fruits of this labor of love, on Sept. 7, when they had a family night at the newly renovated pizzeria, before the official grand opening the next day.
“He just had a desire to open his own pizza place. He’s been telling me for two years,” said Bettyann about her ambitious teenage son. She added that there has unfortunately been skepticism from some members of the community about the new establishment, due to the history of several pizza places coming and going in that location, but her confident and hardworking son is up for the challenge.
Bettyann explained, on a Saturday morning at the eatery before opening, about the history of the location, which her son immediately saw as the perfect opportunity to fulfil his dream.
“It would switch owners every year, and he’s actually up against that because there’s so much negativity,” she said. “So, we’re constantly up against all these comments that it will never last, which is sad. Like, give the kid a chance.”
Whatever the past legacy of this location, Miller only has his young and visionary eyes set on the future. He completely renovated the locale himself prior to opening. In addition to working in pizza places since he was 14, he also has expertise partnering with his father, Chris Miller, for Miller Dry Wall, the company that the elder Miller opened about two decades ago.
Miller graduated a year early at 17, at the height of the pandemic, so, unfortunately, he missed out on many once-in-a-lifetime events such as going to prom, but the undeterred young man still has a bright future ahead of him and knows that the best is yet to come.
In addition to new ownership and new renovations, from floor to ceiling, there are also new cooks, including a head chef from the beloved pizzeria, Aegean Pizza, which was a longtime local favorite and stalwart holdout in the moribund Sun Vet Mall, before recently closing. So, for anyone who misses that pizzeria’s beloved cuisine, you know where to go now to satisfy all your Italian comfort-food cravings.
“I started when I was young, and I fell in love with the business. I worked for other people for a long time, and I really just wanted to work for myself,” he said. “I really like making pizza. I cook, and I like all parts of the business. For me, I like when it gets busy. I like the rush.”
Miller is already thinking about ideas for themed events to bring the community together, such as comedy and paint nights. He’s also in the development stages with a member of the Sons of Italy to teach patrons how to make their own fresh mozzarella, to take a “piece” of this innovative establishment home with them.
Some of the signature pies at this new venue include barbecue buffalo pizza, chicken ranch, and chicken and broccoli, with the most unique pie being the evocatively named Graffiti Pizza, which consists of their homemade vodka sauce, marinara sauce, rigatoni, and fresh basil. The owner and member of Gen Z is also cognizant of being amenable to a variety of dietary restrictions and preferences.
“I do have gluten-free [pizza], and people can bring in their own vegan cheese because I know certain people like different things, but if you want to do something like that I can always accommodate,” he added. Before opening for another busy Saturday, Miller invited, “Come down and give us a shot. I think you’ll be happy.”
Anthony’s Pizza is currently open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and closed on Tuesdays. For the full menu and information on upcoming events go to anthonyspizzaofmasticbeach.com or visit them on Facebook.