After 22 years, the Bridgehampton institution World Pie abruptly closed its doors for good after the last pour on Sunday night. Loyal customers were shocked by word that the restaurant and Main Street building were sold. The off-market deal closed on Monday.
“It’s true,” says restaurateur Michael Mannino by phone on Tuesday evening when asked about the sale. “It’s bittersweet for me. We’ve had a 22-year run — it’s been a fantastic ride,” he says. “I’ve met a lot of great people, met a lot of great customers, got to work with a lot of great people.
“It was just time to move on,” he says. “It’s time to do something different.”
Paul Brennan and Martha Gundersen of Douglas Elliman Real Estate presented Mannino and his father, Philip Mannino, with the deal, which included the sale of the building and its contents, and represented both sides. Mannino declined to disclose the sale price.
While Mannino would not discuss the buyer, he says another restaurant will replace World Pie. Brennan says, “Apparently, it’s going to be a high-end Italian restaurant,” but the lease is not signed yet.
The building at 2402 Montauk Highway was never officially been on the market, according to Mannino, though records show the asking price was $12 million in 2019.
Philip Mannino, who owned O’Malley’s in East Hampton for more than 25 years, bought the building in 1968, though the building dates to 1894, according to Brennan.
“I used to put my nose up against the plate glass window and say, ‘When can I get in there?'” Brennnan remembers of when it was more of “a honkey tonk” establishment called Phil’s when he was a teen. Before that, it was Crapser’s, a restaurant his parents took him to and he still recalls how the owner, Bill Crapster, a World War II veteran from Wainscott, had a large photograph of a submarine called the Swordfish on the wall. At 8 or 10, “I was mesmerized by that picture,” he says.
After Phil’s, it became Bobby Van’s. “That’s when Bridgehampton really got noticed. All those literary guys used to be in there,” Brennan says, referring to Truman Capote, James Jones and John Knowles. Bobby Van’s later moved across the street to its present location.
World Pie, known for its wood-fired, thin-crust pizza, fresh salads and pasta, opened in 1999.
“We’ve always had inquiries,” he explains. “People have asked about it for years. . . everything is for sale at the right price.”
The 2019 listing said the 140-seat restaurant with its “historic bar” and “famous pizza oven” among the amenities, was “in perfect condition.” It was renovated that year, right before the COVID-19 pandemic began, Mannino says.
World Pie was also renovated after a fire at the start of Memorial Day weekend in 2015, which shuttered the restaurant it for much of the summer season. A chimney fire in 2018 luckily only caused minor damage to the roof.
World Pie was one of the few restaurants to consistently stay open late (midnight).
The restaurant has two dining rooms and a seasonal outdoor patio. In addition to the commercial kitchen, there is additional prep space in the back. The building currently total 3,880 square feet.
On the second floor, there is a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment that has also been renovated recently. In the listing from 2019, it said that the “town is open to a 3,600-square-foot, two-story expansion in the rear for retail and/or office units.”
“Twenty-two years kind of goes quick — it’s a little scary,” Mannino says.
Asked if the sale of the building marks the an end of an era in Bridgehampton, Brennan says, “The family was an institution. The restaurant will just continue to go on in a different vain. I think Phil was such an institution in that business for many many years with all the restaurants he owned, from that stand point, yes,” he said. “It’s sort of like the farmers going out.”