THE SIMPLE ROAD OF FAMILY, PIZZA, AND PASSION
About Crust Restaurants – SIMPLY ITALIAN
Michael Merendino grew up as a first-generation Italian in the heart of Long Island, New York. It was here, at an early age, that he learned the importance and value of gathering around the table every night to eat with family and friends. The food was always simple, but the taste was gourmet and authentic thanks to his Mother’s recipes from her hometown of Abruzzi on Italy’s mainland. Little did Michael know then that he had inspiration and simple vison in front of him every night. His father, born and raised in Toretta, Sicily would tell stories at the dinner table about his youth and his parents to Michael and his siblings. Michael grew up hearing stories about the elders in Toretta and how when they were children, they used to stretch the scraps of leftover dough when their families made fresh bread daily. They were given these pieces of dough as children to be cooked in the town’s sole oven. They were stretched thin and topped with the local ingredients that were readily available which would always include off the vine tomatoes, fresh cheese, local olive oil and plenty of basil. These first pizza creations were called “pizzetta’s.”
Michael worked in the family business growing up at Francesca’s, his father’s pizzeria, located in Great Neck, Long Island. Here is where Michael learned and adopted his father’s recipes. Francesca’s is where his father developed and created the Pizza Rustica from the ideas of the Pizzetta. The Rustica has become a cornerstone of the menu at Crust since the first opening in 2007. The combination of growing up in the family business and his home cooking family life led to Michael’s inspiration of opening Crust Simply Italian where he could share an authentic East Coast style of Italian cooking. Where he gets to prepare the recipes of his childhood while sharing the value of gathering around the table every night to eat with family and friends.
Saluti – From Michael and his Family