Born in Jersey City, New Jersey and raised in Bayonne, Andrew has always been proud of his Jersey roots, though 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 perfect execution 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.
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. It was there that Andrew’s appreciation of fine wines also grew through many visits to the Trimbach vineyards and nightly tastings from leftover bottles curated by Serge Dubs, at that time considered the best sommelier in the world. 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 flambe. 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 pizza projects, but his heart wasn’t in it and he retired from the pizza business. 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. He spent several years in Colombia, South America involved in an Internet-based business.
Andrew returned to New York in 2009 and became a New York City Taxi Driver (he still renews his TLC Yellow Cab license).
In 2013, while living in Morris Park in The Bronx, Andrew was contacted by Michael Helfman. Mike wanted to open a chain of authentic New York style pizzerias in SouthEast Asia, starting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Andrew moved to KL and Mikey’s New York Pizza was created. The brand has opened three outlets in Kuala Lumpur to rave reviews. International expansion is in the works.
In addition to his work with Mikey’s, Andrew is developing recipes to work with the coal-fired brick oven he designed and had built in the backyard of his home.
Andrew plans to begin the next chapter of his life with a return to New York in mid 2017. . .