A former Prince Street Pizza chef has ventured off on his own to open a new slice shop on the Upper West Side, bringing a version of the Nolita restaurant’s famous Spicy Spring square pepperoni slice with him. But Prince Street owner Frank Morano is firing back — alleging that the rogue pizzaiolo is stealing a confidential recipe and demanding that he stop.
The new restaurant is called Made In New York Pizza, and the man making the pies is Frank Badali, a longtime employee at Prince Street who reportedly helped create some of the original recipes. He left Prince Street last year and partnered with restaurateur Eytan Sugarman to open Made In New York, which began operating in December at 421 Amsterdam Ave., on West 80th Street.
The beloved square slice — known at tiny slice shop Prince Street for its airy and crisp crust; spicy, garlic-spiked sauce; and curled pepperonis — is called “Spicy Pepperoni” at Made In New York. Morano owns the trademark to the name “Spicy Spring Pie,” which is what the original is called.
Sugarman — who also owns Southern Hospitality in Hell’s Kitchen, a barbecue restaurant once backed by singer Justin Timberlake — says Badali is the original creator of the recipe, and his pizzeria has been marketed as such. When asked about the alleged recipe conflict, Sugarman sent over a statement saying his restaurant has made “noticeable changes and improvements” to the recipe to “distinguish our pepperoni square from Prince Street’s.”
But Morano isn’t buying it, and a spokesperson says he’s pursuing legal action against Badali. Morano claims the former employee is breaking a confidentiality agreement by reproducing the recipe elsewhere and wants him to stop doing so, legal documents show.
Prince Street, which opened in 2012, continues to draw lines specifically for the Spicy Spring.
“This is a copy cat that is trying to capitalize on Prince Street Pizza and their success,” Morano’s spokesperson says.
Sugarman seems undeterred by Prince Street’s allegations, though; he plans to open a second Made In New York on 45th Street and Ninth Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen in about two weeks. The new restaurant has regular and square slices on its menu, including a classic Sicilian, vodka, and grandma slice. Unlike Prince Street, the pizzeria plans to expand its offerings with sandwiches, pastas, salads, and other entrees.
This post has been updated to clarify Badali’s accusations against Morano.