When James Langstine and his two business partners opened the Bronx Alehouse seven years ago, the wild success they experienced got them thinking about opening a second business.
Langstine said the trio started thinking about providing something for Kingsbridge that was not already there.
“It’s something we’ve talked about for a few years now, just because at least in the bottom of the hill area here, there hasn’t been a pizza shop,” he said. “Now there’s a couple of good slices around here, don’t get me wrong, but there’s nothing like this.”
When Christos Gyro closed its doors at 3625 Kingsbridge Ave. about a year ago, Langstine, along with partners David Lindsay and Chris Giudice—and also Giudice’s brother Tom, who joined the group for the latest endeavor—snatched up the location, with the intention of opening a gourmet pizzeria a little more than a block away from the Bronx Alehouse. The pizzeria opened on March 6.
“We think there’s a lot of advantages to it and I guess some people might think that there’s direct competition, but we don’t tend to really think that way,” Langstine said. “We think about really putting more good places to go will bring more people to the neighborhood so instead of splitting the pot, we think we are making the pot bigger.”
So Langstine and his partners opened the Kingsbridge Social Club at the location, with Tom Giudice as head chef.
“I went to school at the Culinary Institute of America, graduated from there, then went and got a master’s degree in Italy, and then I travelled around Italy for about a year in Italy, working,” Giudice said. “I was executive chef at Purchase Golf Course and these guys found this building, and I’ve always owned my own businesses… I like opening them up and getting them established and, you know, do the menu.”
Giudice and Langstine said the menu was a collaborative effort, with a heavy focus on locally grown ingredients.
“All my sausage is homemade. I have a company, one of the last butchers around, in Connecticut, who I give my recipes to and I make my sausages 100 pounds at a time,” Giudice said. “We are just trying to do everything real fresh—scratch made—everything is made in here.”
The restaurateurs said they wanted everything from the name to the décor to represent Kingsbridge, which is why they employed a well-known graffiti artist, whose work can be seen throughout the neighborhood, Michael Tracy.
The name, though, is also a callback to a number of now defunct pizzerias in the Caroll Gardens area of Brooklyn.
“My partner Chris and I lived in the Carroll Gardens area of Brooklyn for a while, which is a very Italian neighborhood and years ago, when we lived there, there were all these Italian social clubs, which are mostly gone now,” Langstine said. “So it kind of was reminiscent of an Italian place, without having that kind of generic Italian feel to it. We also wanted a name that would say, not only is there great food, but calling is social club kind of makes it sound like this is a place where you can just come hang out, too.”
Giudice, who most recently spent three years as the executive chef at the Purchase Golf Course, said he is happy to be running his own business again, and serving a local community.
“I like coming to neighborhoods like this and building something like this,” he said. “I like building restaurants up and I love when it gets crowded and everyone is eating and enjoying the food.”