Andrew Bellucci's story is one of redemption and you can't help but root for him.
There is nothing "controversial" about Andrew. The man is one of New York's most honest and best pizzamakers. Don't be fooled by any other pizzeria with his name in it -- this is the only one where he makes the pizza.
Andrew was featured in the documentary "Untitled Pizza Movie" when he was a rising star at New York's famous Lombardi's pizzeria in 1995, detoured into an unfortunate 13-month stint at Otisville Correctional Facility, and then caught up with him again in 2020, when he opened up his first place in Astoria.
"It's an all-consuming obsession," he says about his pizzamaking. "If I'm doing it, I'm doing it. The slice is part of the fabric of New York that I want to be in."
Andrew's new venue is bigger than the one he left behind for better things. He anticipates his offerings to be much wider in his new space.
I MAKE THE PIZZA TO MY TASTE AND I'M MY OWN HARSHEST CRITIC.
IF SOMEONE SAYS "IT'S SALTY," I SAY "YES, IT IS."
IF I'M DOING IT THE WAY I INTENDED TO DO IT, I'M STICKING WITH MY GAME PLAN.
LORD HANUMAN STATUE
Once one of the city's hottest pizza makers in the 90s, Andrew spent 13 months in prison on embezzlement charges, followed by 16 years driving a cab.
He was lured back into pizza life through a Craigslist ad, offering him the chance to open a NYC-style pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur.
Andrew found himself isolated and down, facing what he calls "a fork in the road" where "I could have gone one way or the other."
A friend invited Andrew to a celebration of Hindu god Hanuman's birthday at temple.
"I spent a couple of hours there. I felt more peaceful. I'm not a religious guy at all. But there was some type of a connection there.
Two days later, the person who would become my wife moved in with me. We've been together since."
The Lord Hanuman statue pictured here was given to Andrew by his mother-in-law from India.