June 1, 2023 By Julia Moro
Andrew Bellucci, New York City’s beloved pizza legend and owner of Andrew Bellucci’s Pizzeria in Astoria, died from a heart attack late Wednesday, May 31, in his Astoria shop.
While making a pie, Bellucci collapsed at around 7:30 p.m., according to his business partner Matthew Katakis, who said he performed CPR until EMS arrived. Bellucci was transported to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after.
Bellucci, the “Don of Dough,” as Katakis crowned him, was obsessed with his craft. Katakis said that Bellucci would work tirelessly to achieve the perfect crust, experimenting with fermentation and various flours.
“He was family; I believed in him,” Katakis said. “I believed in him because I loved the pizza. I gained 15 pounds from working with him. I would tell him, ‘If I pick up a second slice, everything’s great.'”
Bellucci opened Bellucci Pizza in December of 2020 with former business partner, Leo Dakmak. However, Bellucci and Katakis revamped his pizzeria in 2021, renaming it Andrew Bellucci’s Pizzeria after a bitter feud with Dakmak.
Katakis, the former owner of Slice and owner of Blend Astoria, Pita Pan and Butcher Bar, financially backed Andrew Bellucci’s Pizzeria since 2021.
“He basically wanted to work seven days a week,” Katakis said. “I told him to do what makes him happy. I was proud to give him these two years of total freedom to create whatever he wanted.”
Bellucci made a name for himself in the early ’90s by reviving Lombardi’s on Spring Street in Manhattan, which had closed in the ’80s. But as his career took off, he was arrested for a former crime of embezzling from a law firm where he previously worked.
Bellucci spent time behind bars, where he was the cellmate of infamous Colombo underboss John “Sonny” Franzese. One of Bellucci’s specialty pies, the pepperoni-loaded “Sonny Supreme” was named in his honor.
Bellucci’s ultimate dream was to own and operate a Michelin-star pizzeria.
“I have only one goal,” he previously told The New York Post, “and it’s to become the first slice shop with a Michelin star.”
Bellucci also wanted to make sure his pizza was accessible. Katakis, in support, offered a $3 slice.
“I fell in love with his desire to be accessible and it made me happy to walk in and see all types of people coming in for a slice,” Katakis said.
On Friday, June 2, Bellucci’s will be open, and all proceeds will be donated to Slice Out Hunger.
“The plan is to keep his memory alive,” Katakis said. “Hopefully I can keep producing the high-standard pizza that we were serving thus far.”