For near 4 many years, a meal at Andrea’s Restaurant in Metairie has promised Italian dishes like osso buco, risotto and crabmeat ravioli. Simply as reliably, it’s additionally meant a dose of Andrea Apuzzo, the Italian-born chef identified for his jovial sense of welcome and hands-on hospitality.
However now large modifications are underway for Andrea’s, one of many best-known and longest-running eating places in Jefferson Parish, and for Apuzzo’s personal function below its roof.
In August, Apuzzo finalized the sale of the restaurant he first opened 37 years in the past, together with the enterprise and actual property. The brand new proprietor is Anthony “A.P.” Marullo III, a neighborhood actual property developer.
The restaurant will shut briefly this coming week, on Sunday and Monday. When it reopens on Tuesday, a brand new enterprise partnership will probably be in place to run Andrea’s.
For Apuzzo, now 71, the sale means a change of tempo, however not fairly retirement. He stated he plans to stay a part of the restaurant for the foreseeable future, working with Marullo and his group.
“I really like what I accomplish that a lot, however I am passing the torch to the youthful technology,” Apuzzo stated. “They will have completely different concepts, new concepts. It is good. I am very pleased.”
Marullo outlined plans for Andrea’s future that entail an estimated $1 million renovation and a rejuvenation of the restaurant, mixing influences from the restaurant as we speak with a extra trendy, upscale strategy throughout the operation.
Common restaurant service will quickly stop in some unspecified time in the future over the winter for the renovation, although Marullo intends to maintain Andrea’s lounge and the catering and banquet aspect of the enterprise rolling all through. He known as that one a part of his aim to retain as lots of the restaurant’s employees as potential by means of the transition.
Marullo stated the challenge was made potential with financing from IV Capital, the native agency run by movie star entrepreneur Sidney Torres IV. Phrases of the deal weren’t disclosed.
“Andrea is an icon within the restaurant business in Jefferson Parish,” stated Marullo. “Folks in Louisiana and past have shared so many reminiscences at his restaurant. That’s why I’m honored and humbled to hold it on.”
Generations of gratitude
The sale represents one of many largest shifts within the Metairie restaurant scene in a few years.
Andrea’s, at 3100 nineteenth St., throughout Causeway Boulevard from the Lakeside Purchasing Heart, is a really massive restaurant. It covers 12,000 sq. toes, with many interconnecting non-public rooms, a kitchen the scale of a cruise ship galley and seating for as much as 350 (plus parking for 200 vehicles). A significant a part of the enterprise is non-public occasions, from enterprise luncheons and banquets to reunions and extra private gatherings.
It’s a restaurant the place folks have dined on their marriage ceremony nights, celebrated the baptisms of their kids and returned with those self same kids as adults.
“We now have so many lovely tales on this place, so many nice individuals who have come by means of; these are the moments and reminiscences that imply a lot to me,” Apuzzo stated. “The success of Andrea’s is concerning the clients and the households by means of the years. I’m so grateful to them.”
Another excuse Andrea’s is so deeply rooted locally is Apuzzo himself. He’s been a continuing and gregarious presence, one going again even longer than the 37-year run of Andrea’s Restaurant.
The chef from Capri
Apuzzo grew up on Capri, the ruggedly picturesque island simply off the coast from Naples. Right now the chef has a villa on the island surrounded by vineyards producing grapes for his personal Andrea’s-labeled wines, that are served on the restaurant.
He grew up in a household of six kids and was despatched to work early, getting a job at a bakery by age 7. At 16, he left residence for Switzerland, the place he wished to be taught a brand new delicacies and completely different languages. That want would set a path for him, and by the point he landed in the US as a 20-something he had six languages below his belt and had cooked in as many European traditions.
He began working on the Omni lodge chain in Atlanta, and in 1977 he transferred to its New Orleans property, the Royal Orleans Lodge within the French Quarter. He discovered success within the lodge, and was supplied different, greater positions away from New Orleans. However he preferred his adopted residence and noticed the chance to make a mark along with his personal restaurant.
In a metropolis the place, on the time, Italian restaurant delicacies practically all the time meant Sicilian cooking, Apuzzo determined to showcase northern Italian flavors.
“I wished to create one thing distinctive in New Orleans,” he stated. “This was the delicacies I really like, I wished to carry it to my friends.”
He and his enterprise companions on the time took over a Metairie restaurant known as Etienne’s (“It was a French restaurant, although it was run by Sicilians,” Apuzzo recalled). They have been capable of reopen it as Andrea’s simply 4 weeks after finishing the acquisition.
Incomes ‘the American dream’
Over the many years that adopted, the restaurant would develop into the present-day Andrea’s, increasing room by room. Apuzzo remembers the time his mom got here from Capri to go to, and the way moved she was by what he had constructed.
“She all the time wished me to return again to Italy, however when she got here right here and noticed all this, she informed me ‘that is the place you belong,'” the chef stated of his late mom.
“In America, folks will assist you for those who work laborious, for those who do job, for those who make it proper for them,” he stated. “New Orleans has been my American dream.”
Apuzzo has a popularity for doing something in his potential for his clients, with customized orders a commonplace right here even throughout busy nights. By means of the years, he fielded so many requests for New Orleans-style Creole Italian and Sicilian dishes that, along with his eagerness to please, the Andrea’s menu steadily grew to become a hybrid for native staples and northern Italian specialties.
Apuzzo’s function on the intersection of hospitality and philanthropy would develop in keeping with his restaurant, and he has been a mainstay of many festivals and charitable occasions. The chef himself has no kids however says he takes one thing like a paternal satisfaction in supporting colleges and youngsters’s charities across the space.
“If God offers to you, you have got to have the ability to share,” Apuzzo stated. “Whilst you’re right here and residing, you must give the love, respect and fervour to different folks. That is why I am pleased with what I’ve accomplished right here.”
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