Kevin Finnegan grew up around Providence, but he’s spent most of his life in Matunuck – first as a kid, enjoying his summers on the southern coast, then as a resident. Since the 1980s, Finnegan has owned The Ocean Mist, a pillar of Matunuck nightlife. So when he heard that La Strada, the longstanding pizza place across the street, was up for sale, Finnegan couldn’t pass it up.
“The landlord called me up a few months ago,” Finnegan recalls. “He said, ‘Do you want a pizza place?’ It was a good location, so I said, ‘Okay.’”
La Strada was a large venue – much larger than Finnegan needed – so he divided the space in two: in one half, there’s the new Matunuck Pizza Pie Company, which serves inventive gourmet pizzas. In mid-May, the other half will become the new Matunuck Surf Shop. That name may sound familiar to Matunuck residents, since the surf shop was an older business that Finnegan acquired from a friend. The two storefronts will stand side by side, a perfect seaside combo of boogie boards and grub.
Finnegan opened Matunuck Pizza Pie Company in March, gradually extending the hours and days of operation to accommodate the growing influx of visitors. “Right now the pizza is coming out really well,” says Finnegan, in his mile-a-minute cadence. “A lot of [beachgoers] pull up and expect fried clams, and that’s it. But I want the pizza to be good. I don’t want to put my feet up just because we’re
on the ocean.”
The kitchen has experimented with the gamut of toppings: there’s the usual Margherita and Chicken Parmesan, but there’s also the feta-infused Greek Pizza, an Eggplant Parm, and The Matunuck, which is dense with mozzarella and Italian sausage. The kitchen even turned out a one-off pizza covered in corned beef.
While mainlanders might not be aware, the new pizzeria isn’t Finnegan’s first attempt at pie-making. Last year, he opened the Block Island Pizza Pie Company on Corn Neck Road. That location is seasonal and serves pan pizzas, which Finnegan feels are better suited to tourists on the go. In contrast, the Matunuck location will be open year-round, seven days a week, and specializes in New York-style crusts. Matunuck