Pupatella is putting its recent round of fundraising dollars to work with two freshly signed leases for Neapolitan pizza restaurants in Northern Virginia.
The former food truck is widely recognized for serving some of the finest pizza in the D.C. area. Last year, Pupatella raised $3.75 million to fuel expansion plans to open up to eight area locations over the next three years. The first is expected to arrive by mid-summer in South Arlington at 1621 S. Walter Reed Drive.
The growing brand comes from entrepreneurs Enzo Algarme and Anastasiya Laufenberg, who opened their first restaurant at 5104 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington in early 2010. Its original food truck, a reminder of their origins, is parked out back. Ingredients are imported weekly from Naples, Algarme’s hometown.
Each pizza takes around 90 seconds to bake in a traditional wood-fired oven made of brick from Mount Vesuvius. The current menu also includes panini, fried Naples street foods like arancini, small plates and salads, and kid-friendly orders. One summer app in the works features fresh local melon and prosciutto.
The new Arlington lease sits about three miles south from the original restaurant. The chosen site formerly housed a string of restaurant sites, including an Ethiopian spot. Permitting for the 2,200-square-foot building is under way to complete a full-scale renovation, complete with a 40-seat covered patio area.
“Arlington has been so welcoming to us,” says Michael Berger, a founding partner and Pupatella’s head of real estate and supply chain. “We know getting around can be tough, so we’re excited to bring another outpost that will make Pupatella more accessible for our South Arlington fans.”
The lease for the second location, at 1821 Wiehle Avenue in Reston, was signed yesterday, Berger reports. The 2,700-square-foot site has a storied pizza past, having operated as a Pizza Hut since 1977. It’s full circle for Berger, who’s from Reston.
“That shopping area is like a monument everyone knows,” he says, adding he remembers attending Little League parties inside. Pizza Hut will continue to operate until its lease runs out, expected to flip to Pupatella in early 2020.
Prolific restaurant architect HapstakDemetriou (&pizza, Rose’s Luxury, District Winery) is leading the design at the new locations. All of which are expected to sport large outdoor patio areas, full bars, and operate for lunch and dinner.
The first two locations in the expansion plan are standalone buildings with their own dedicated parking lots. The Reston restaurant is near the Metro. The Arlington site is nearby the Army Navy Country Club and Amazon’s future headquarters.
Pupatella is targeting sites bordering the beltway. Berger says the brand is also close to locking down locations in D.C. and Fairfax County that could open this fall and early 2020, respectively.