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Bellerose ice store caters to summer whims

During the dog days of summer, when the oppressive heat weighs on your shoulders like a ton of bricks and cooling down is your only thought, the new Italian ice shop in Bellerose should be the answer to what ails you.

Hi Class Ices at 246-11 Jamaica Ave., which opened in the first week of May, was the brainchild of Anthony Laurino and his brother-in-law Dominick Onesto, who bought the pizza parlor — Hi Class Pizza — next door six months earlier.

“It used to be my father-in-law’s butcher shop,” Laurino said. “He retired about 10 years ago and when it went out of business, we took it over.”

He said he told his brother-in-law it would be a shame if the place was rented to someone else when they were given first crack at it and came up with the idea of selling ices. He said ice stores had become a hot item with similar stores opening around the city.

During the summer Hi Class carries about 60 different flavors of Italian ices made by the Brooklyn Italian Ice Queens and gelato imported from Italy. But in the winter, when all of the other places have to close, they plan to stay open selling soups and coffee.

“The place has been doing pretty good so far with the majority of the customers coming from the surrounding community,” Laurino said. “Having the store next door is an advantage. We can stay open all year round when most other places have to close down.”

Laurino, who hails from Willston Park, L.I., said he had been working in pizza parlors for about eight years before he and Onesto bought Hi Class Pizza from the old owner, who was his father-in-law’s longtime friend. He gave Laurino, who was working in a shop in Massapequa, the first shot at buying the place.

The pizzeria, which has become an institution in the community, opened in 1969 and only sold the tradition staples — regular and Sicilian pies.

“Now we sell 25 different types and have a full menu,” Laurino said “Some of the (the traditional Italian) fare we cook is chicken marsala, penne in vodka sauce, fried calamari and a wide variety of shrimp dishes.”

Some of the new pizzas they make are taco pizza, ziti pizza, white pizza and onion pizza.

In the future, he said, they hope to expand Hi Class Pizza into a full-fledged restaurant. There is enough room because at the moment the two men only use the front half of the ice shop. He said he wants to knock down the back wall and combine the two places to form a “nice dining area.”

Unlike the old owner, who only served foot traffic, they hope to start delivering to people in the area because residents do not always want to leave their homes, he said.

“The place is really good,” said Angeldo Tagliendi, who was ordering a slice. “I come here everyday for lunch. Friday is the best day of the week because it is always packed.”

Laurino said he and Onesto keep the place open seven days a week, but he does not care because he owns the place.

“Even though I now work 14 or 15 hours a day, I don’t really mind,” he said. “It is a pleasure to get up in the morning knowing I work for myself.”

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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