Freehold Pizza & Grill, a restaurant offering authentic Italian cuisine, has recently opened with great success in Greene County.
“We didn’t advertise or anything and we get around 1,500 people a day coming in the door who really like the food,” said Nick Hajdari, one of the owners and head chef of the new restaurant. “The way it’s taken off has really taken us by surprise, but everyone loves New York pizza and now they can’t stop.”
The new restaurant is serving up all different types of pizza with Italian appetizers and sides, homemade soups, salads, calzones, pasta, paninis, a full deli, a bakery, and more.
“Each morning, I come in at 4 a.m. and make the pizza dough, bread, puff pastries, cannoli shells and other things available from our bakery,” Hajdari said, gesturing to the raspberry and Nutella puff pastries available that day. “Every day is different. We do different flavors of pastries, but everything is made fresh daily with the best ingredients from the city.”
With New York City pizza being so popular, the restaurant knew they had to ship many of their ingredients for the breads and dough from high-quality suppliers in the city. However, Hajdari is sticking to supporting local farmers in Greene County for their tomato sauce.
“You can’t have city pizza unless you have their ingredients up here,” he said. “People wouldn’t think this, but the water is different here and the lack of minerals in it changes how the dough comes out.”
Orginally from Albania, Hajdari migrated to the Bronx where he started growing his pizza businesses. His uncle, Rukaj, moved to Rensselaerville where Hajdari then saw the potential to expand in the thriving area of Greene County, so he decided to move to Rensselaerville as well.
“My uncle has been up here a long, long time and the area sparked interest,” Hajdari said. “We always used to pass by here and I could see this was a type of restaurant the area lacked.”
With a total of six successful pizza restaurants - four in New York City, one in Stamford, Connecticut, and the new location in Freehold.
“One of my places in the city, Dino’s Pizza, often serves the Yankees baseball team. We cater for them all the time,” he said.
Hajdari’s pizza joints in the city were featured on ABC’s “The Chew”. The show plans to air a new episode highlighting the Freehold Pizza & Grill opening.
Hajdari and his uncle plan to expand the business in Greene County in the near future.
“We can see already that the demand is very high here,” Hajdari said. “We’d like to serve breakfast in the summers and open a banquet hall for catering birthday and engagement parties and other events. Even further in the future, we’re thinking of opening a club so young people have a gathering place.”
Hajdari says he enjoys serving the small town of Freehold, a much different pace than New York City. “You become like friends with the people here, they’re not just customers,” Hajdari said. “In the city, it’s business every day. People just come and go. Here you get to know people on a first-name basis, who they are and where they’re from.”
Freehold Pizza & Grill brings a little more than the ingredients up from the city. They’re offering hard-to-find slices for only $2.50. “There aren’t any other places around like this and we want to share this with the people around here with good hospitality.”
Freehold Pizza & Grill is located at 9495 Route 32 in Freehold. The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. For more information, call the restaurant at (518) 634-2453.
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Adapted from a Story by Kate Seckinger/Columbia-Greene Business Quarterly