Knead to Know in Kingsbridge
As hungry patrons walk into the Kingsbridge Social Club, you can easily pick out the regulars. They’re the ones who enter the restaurant and squint their eyes to focus on the specials board in the back. This happens with good reason—Tom Giudice, the chef behind the menu at this “Italianish” restaurant, has an inspired and rotating array of daily specials of pizza, pasta, soup and pizza dolce (the dessert option).
This addition to the neighborhood opened in March 2017, and, if the 500 pounds of dough they go through every week is any indication, they’ve gained a loyal following. The Kingsbridge Social Club’s popularity also stems from its ever-changing craft beer selection. The attention to the drink menu is of little surprise—the co-owners of this new food destination are also the owners of the neighborhood’s beloved pub, the Bronx Alehouse. Dave Lindsay, who managed the Bronx Alehouse for six years, jumped at the chance to run the front of the house at the Kingsbridge Social Club. “I get people who come in regularly because of the beer specials I post online,” says Dave. “Like our food, our drink menu keeps things interesting.”
Another co-owner of both establishments is Chris Giudice. When he decided to open the new restaurant, he turned to his brother Tom to be head of the kitchen. “We wanted to do things differently than anyone else in the neighborhood,” says Chef Tom. “We did our research and realized that our style of pizza wasn’t represented. But we argue about what that style is exactly—we’ve settled on Neo-Neapolitan.”
And he’s not lying about research; Tom spent over six months perfecting the dough used in the pies featured on the menu, but he points out he’s been making dough his whole life. “After figuring out the starter for our dough as well as the special flour blend, we found there was a certain flavor we all really enjoyed,” the chef explains. “We ended up with a crust that is light, fluffy and has a nice crispness to it.”
The lineup of 12 pizzas on the menu, the daily special and the extensive topping selection could please just about any palate. Favorites include the classic House Pie, with tomato sauce, mozzarella, grana and basil; Funghi with wild mushrooms and tangy Taleggio cheese; and the Cherry Bomb, a pie featuring homemade meatballs, bacon and cherry peppers.
For those not into Italy’s favorite export, there’s a slew of well-executed options including salads, sandwiches and bar snacks. The crispy Brussels sprouts, big enough to share, are charred and topped with honey-garlic aioli and Spanish paprika. For this dish alone, Tom orders 70 to 80 pounds of Brussels sprouts a week. The jumbo wings, marinated for no less than three days, are finished with a savory and spicy sauce of butter, chili pepper sambal, cherry peppers, caramelized onions and Grana Padano cheese. It’s an extraordinary sauce and one that people keep on the table to use for their pizza crusts later in the meal.
When asked how he would describe his style of cooking, Tom says, “Every description sounds so cliché, so I’ll simplify it to 'fresh and local." But to call Tom’s style 'local' is to truly undersell his approach. For a chef who graduated from Hyde Park’s Culinary Institute of America, studied and worked in Italy, and has been part of a kitchen since he was 15, Tom’s influences come from where he's been, where he is now and the vendors with whom he works.
As the name of the restaurant hints, the Kingsbridge Social Club is intended to be a place where people gather and hang out. It’s a comfortable space where the 10 tables seat 30 people without feeling too cramped, while the bar seats another 12. The dining room walls and the large, wood-fired oven are adorned with the bright, flashy work of Tracy 168, a Bronx-based graffiti artist.
Dave is not only in charge of the beer and the running of the restaurant; he's also the event mastermind. "It's my hope to create six events per year, but even if I only do one per season, that's cool!" Over the summer, the Kingsbridge Social Club hosted a successful outdoor pig roast with, of course, beer specials. "I really love that we also have outdoor seating," says Tom. "We've got these communal tables out there and everyone just eats and drinks side by side. It's what the social club is all about." Dave jumps into the conversation excitedly, "Oh! An outdoor family-style shared dinner! That should absolutely be one of our new summer events."
Follow the Kingsbridge Social Club’s beer and food specials on Instagram @kingsbridgesc
3625 Kingsbridge Ave, Bronx, NY