The slice game in East Hampton is strong, even after all these years. Just ask Al Fierro, who took over for his father, Albert — the man who opened this venerated pizza joint, Fierro’s, 35 years ago this past August. For 362 days a year, Al Fierro, joined by his brother John, serve pizza to the denizens of East Hampton, a service for which the town remains eternally grateful.
In 1980, Albert Fierro purchased the East Hampton building that would eventually house his pizzeria. He had opened an earlier Fierro’s, in Farmingville, the year before. Then came a pizzeria in Shirley. Albert dreamed of coming out to the Hamptons, and eventually did so, setting his sights on an affordable East Hampton space. Decades later, that space — and its restaurant — soldier on. All three pizzerias continued to operate for about a decade, until the Fierro family decided to focus their work on the East End.
The pizzeria’s story is a complex one. Al Fierro, his mother, Barbara, and his brother, John, were all co-owners and sold the East Hampton pizzeria 11 years ago to Claude Cardin. The restaurant remained a pizzeria in the intervening years, and few knew anything had changed until, in 2013, Al Fierro and Stephen Hickey bought the business back. Then came a minor renovation: A two-week closure for new ovens, new furniture, a new ceiling, and new paint. Al Fierro and Stephen Hickey had worked together in Amagansett, at Indian Wells Tavern, one as a bartender and the other as a server.
Years later, the restaurant is still a family affair. Al Fierro and John Fierro run their father’s pizzeria, making pies the way he had always envisioned.
And, these days, Fierro’s is what it always has been: A slice joint dedicated to feeding the hungry masses, the majority of whom are regular customers. On any given afternoon, a casual pizza eater is bound to run into any manner of dedicated East Hamptonites: parents, grabbing a few slices to take home for dinner; kids, notebooks open, scribbling notes as their mozzarella cools; and the occasional working stiff, freed from the office for just long enough to indulge.
Fierro’s casual, laissez-faire attitude has made it a comfortable place for even the most notable celebrities. On the restaurant’s walls, one will find Yankees paraphernalia, demonstrative of Al and John’s ardent fandom. On occasion, they have been visited by famous members of said franchise, gracing the Hamptons for a weekend and stopping in, yes, for a Fierro’s slice.
The community, of course, has changed vastly in 35 years. Gone are many of the local, family-owned businesses that once propped up the community, replaced with high-end boutique stores, corporate enterprises, and fashion-forward destination shopping. Still, some stalwarts, like Sam’s and Villa Italian Specialties, remain, a reminder that longevity in the Hamptons requires the right recipe of perseverance and luck.
During Hurricane Sandy, in 2012, the village lost power, but Fierro’s kept its gas-operated pizza running. They used hand graters for their cheese and shone headlights from their cars into the windows to provide enough light for work and service. In the end, they survived that devastating storm, and with aplomb.
Perhaps such fierce dedication to ideals — even the simple ideals of feeding people, consistently, and well — is the secret to making a long-term go of it in an area often viewed as unfriendly to year-round business. Consider Fierro’s a beacon in the storm, willing to provide you with a hot slice on any given day of the week.