WELLFLEET — John D’Aponte grew up traveling back and forth between two pizza meccas: Naples, Italy, and Brooklyn, N.Y. A New Yorker, D’Aponte often visited the southern Italian city where his family was from.
The pizza in Naples, he said, “has been a love of mine as long as I can remember.”
In October, D’Aponte and his wife, Jennifer, who live in Wellfleet, turned their passion for pizza into a pop-up at Bagel Hound on Route 6.
Pizza Spinello, which translates as “pizza joint,” specializes in Roman style pizza al taglio — pizza made with slow-fermented dough, baked in a rectangular tray, and sold by the slice. “Italians like to call it high-digestibility,” D’Aponte explained: it is easy to eat.
The light, rectangular pies that Pizza Spinello dishes out reflect qualities from both sides of his bicultural past. “The pizza in Italy and in Brooklyn were so different from each other,” he said. “I was always trying to make the more Italian version back at home.”
Pizza al taglio was invented after World War II when Italy was becoming more industrialized. As the super-hot wood-fired ovens that Neapolitan pizza had been traditionally baked in were phased out, bakers created a more hydrated dough for pizza al taglio that could be baked longer at lower temperatures.
Because the ovens at Bagel Hound, which D’Aponte uses for his pizzas, are built for bagels, he figured the al taglio approach would be best. Still, “I had to do some retooling,” D’Aponte said, to perfect his recipe for the pop-up.
While D’Aponte has long been into pizza, it was always an amateur endeavor. Last summer, when he was working at Ceraldi — a place where cooks can get nerdy — he was given an Ooni outdoor pizza oven. But this is different. Pizza Spinello, D’Aponte said, “is the beginning of my professional pizza-making life.”
Spinello offers six different pies, ranging from favorites like the margherita to traditional Roman flavors like a potato and rosemary pie, which D’Aponte calls the Peruana, a nod to the potato’s origins and Jennifer’s Peruvian heritage.
The pop-up is open every Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. and takes online orders only. “We’ve sold out every week — the community has been super supportive,” said Jennifer. They hope to ramp up for Friday nights soon, D’Aponte said, with the goal of being open four or five nights a week by summer.
The endeavor started when Bagel Hound, which is open from April to December until 1 p.m., began looking to rent out the space to another business during its closed hours. “I jumped at the chance,” D’Aponte said.
Bagel Hound’s owner, Ellery Althaus, has been supportive and opinionated — in a good way — about their endeavor, the couple said. “We are sharing resources, vendors, and helping each other out,” Jennifer said. It’s an arrangement that’s “in line with the community vibe here,” she said.
The D’Apontes spent September and October working to perfect their recipes. “I basically made my family eat pizza for six weeks straight,” D’Aponte said. The pair’s 11- and 7-year-old children were involved in the pizza testing and have proved to be skilled pizza box folders.
The pop-up opened with a different name, Pizza Squalo — squalo is shark in Italian. But that got pushback from a Chatham pizzeria called Pizza Shark. The mix-up caused “a little bit of local drama,” Jennifer said. “But we fixed it.”
John, who has a background in design, quickly redesigned the logo to include the new name. “It helped that the graphic design was in-house because we had to do it twice,” John said.
“It ended up being a good thing,” Jennifer said. “I like the new name better.”