THE SIMPLE ROAD OF FAMILY, PIZZA, AND PASSION
About Crust Restaurants – SIMPLY ITALIAN
Michael Merendino grew up as a first-generation Italian in New York’s Long Island. At an early age he learned the importance of gathering around the table every night to eat with his family. The food was always so simple, but the taste was gourmet and authentic thanks to his Mother’s recipes from her small hometown of Abruzzi on Italy’s mainland. Little did he know then, he had inspiration in front of him every night. His father, born and raised in Toretta, Sicily grew up hearing stories from the elders and how when they were children, they used to stretch the scraps of dough when their families made fresh bread daily. They were given these pieces of dough to be cooked in the towns sole oven and 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, which of course is a Pizzeria, that is still open in Great Neck, Long Island called Francesca’s. Here is where Michael adopted his father’s recipes and where his father developed and recreated the Pizza Rustica from the ideas of the Pizzetta. The Rustica has been 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 and where he gets to prepare the recipes of his childhood.