Q&A with Diego Palemine: Owner of Lee’s Tavern

The owner of a beloved neighborhood pizza joint talks about what Dongan Hills is like.

The Palemine family purchased Lee’s Tavern at 60 Hancock St. in 1969. In addition to being a local favorite, the bar has a reputation outside neighborhood as having some of the best pizza on Staten Island. The family still lives in the apartment above the tavern, and their son, Diego Palemine, 37, runs the joint now.


What is the crowd at Lee’s like

It’s just a cross-section of Staten Island. Staten Island is a different group of people; we always have to root for each other. We always look out for each other.

It’s a total mix of society; a construction worker sitting next to a surgeon sitting next to a politician, but [we] do get a lot of cops and firemen. You get a lot of neighborhood people coming in, so you get to know your neighbors — for better or for worse. 


Any interesting customers recentlyr

We had Brooke Shields come in six months ago!


Has the neighborhood changed over the yearse

I think that it used to be a lot more stable; you were born here, lived here, stayed here — but now other people are moving in, there are new faces and new people.


What should someone coming to Lee’s for the first time orderi

A: I’m always a fan of just the plain, traditional pizza, but we’re definitely known for the clam pies. Our buffalo calamari is popular too.

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