NOMAD, Manhattan — The grand opening of a new pizza place in the NoMad neighborhood is creating a lot of buzz.
Washington D.C. based "&pizza" is opening its first location in NYC at 15 West 28th Street. It debuts tomorrow and the first 212 people in line get a free pizza.
"The OG area code is 212," said CEO and co-founder Michael Lastoria, CEO, explaining the number choice.
In addition, with this being their 22nd store, the first 22 people who choose to get an ampersand tattoo - that's an and symbol - will get free pizza for the year.
"We really wanted to create a symbol that stood for diversity and unity and connectedness, a symbol that unifies and bring people together," said Lastoria.
This is a coming home for Lastoria, who actually came up with the idea for &pizza when he was living in West Chelsea.
"I packed my bags ,went to DC, fell in love with it," he said. "It was always a dream of mine to bring it back to the city."
He still eats pizza every day.
"I have the wonderful job of eating pizza every single day. I've been doing that for the last seven years," Lastoria said. "You can make it healthy or you can be wildly indulgent and it just satisfies a craving very few cuisines can do, so of course we love pizza!"
&pizza pride themselves on their distinctive oblong pies made from ultra fresh ingredients. But this is not your usual New York pizza.
"It's not New York pizza. You don't come here to get a slice - you come here for a wide variety of ingredients," he said about the customized pizza. "We're not here to replace the slice. Go to Joe's pizza, get your favorite slice on Monday. Then come to us and get a pizza on a Thursday."
&pizza also is big on supporting local charities and community partnerships. The walls are lined with art by local artists. Some of their ingredients are from local merchants like Luke's Lobster, Mike's Hot Honey and Brooklyn-based chocolate company, Fine & Raw.
"We've been really big on our outreach to the community. &CHARITY supports over 1000 causes. Another part of this is through our Little Giant program, partnering with like minded brands for doing like-minded things."
The rain may have kept people away tonight but by tomorrow morning they're expecting a good turnout.
The price of a pizza - unlimited toppings for 11 bucks.
&pizza opens tomorrow at 11 am. But if you want to score a free pie, you better get here early.
Lastoria can't say enough about his food of choice. "More life, more love, more pizza - that's our motto!"