Born in Jersey City, New Jersey and raised in Bayonne, Andrew has always been proud of his Jersey roots. But he always had his eye on the New York skyline, a direct result of wearing out three vinyl copies of Bruce Springsteen’s seminal album, Born to Run. At age 15, Andrew started cooking in a church hall on Friday nights where the menu centered on burgers and fries. It was there that he learned his most valuable food lesson: elevate simple, everyday food by using the best quality ingredients and you will be noticed. Andrew is equally proud of his mother’s French Alsatian heritage and his father’s Napolitano-Sicilian ancestry, both of which greatly influence his cooking style. He spent every other summer in Alsace, learning to appreciate artisanal cheese, meats and even homemade “schnapps” or Eau de Vie during his formative years. He also spent time at his cousin’s Champagne vineyard, B. Blondel, in Rilly la Montagne, outside of Reims.
Over a quarter century of world-class pizza
Taking advantage of his fluency in French, Andrew later spent 2 years in France, learning from Emile Jung at Au Crocodile in Strasbourg and L’Auberge de l’ill in Illhaeusern under les frères Haeberlin, Paul and Marc. There were also stints at a Brittany creperie in Strasbourg as well as in the kitchen at Aux Trois Fleurs in Oberhoffen, where Andrew got his first crack at making pizza, albeit French style in the form of tarte flambée. Andrew got his first Chef’s job at new American style restaurant called the Brooklyn Bridge Cafe in Toulouse.
Upon his return to New York, Andrew veered from his French training and parlayed several years turning out pizzas at the original Two Boots and the Three of Cups into a three-way partnership with Gerry Lombardi and John Brescio to re-open Lombardi’s on Spring Street. It was there as partner/pizza maker that Andrew gained international attention, earning accolades from Eric Asimov of The New York Times calling him “a pizza fanatic’s dream” and Ed Levine of “New York Eats” (and later Seriouseats.com) calling him “a pizza-ologist”. An acrimonious ending to the partnership left both Andrew and later Gerry Lombardi out during which time Lombardi’s transitioned from one of the best pizzas in New York into a tourist destination. But the road to a new pizza renaissance had been paved and there was a revival of quality pizza places focusing on ingredients throughout the City.
After Lombardi’s, Andrew consulted on several food projects, but his heart wasn’t in it and entered into self-imposed exile from pizza. Over the next few years, Andrew learned the art of cheese making, tomato growing and canning and artisanal butchering, if for nothing other than personal satisfaction.
In 2013, Andrew decided to test the waters to see if he wanted to get back into the pizza game. A unique opportunity to introduce the New York slice to Malaysia presented itself and Andrew grabbed it. Andrew spent three years in Asia, building Mikey’s New York Pizza from the ground up. After opening 3 successful locations, Andrew returned to New York in early 2017 to gauge the New York market.
Andrew reconnected with the Three of Cups in the East Village where he was the pizza man in 1993-94. He’s testing out recipes and doing an occasional pop-up called Bellucci Pizza Lab.