Andrew Bellucci opened his namesake slice and pie joint about a month ago in Astoria, but the origin story goes way back. In addition to working at such NYC greats as Joe's and Rubirosa, Bellucci was also present at the (re)creation of his family's other restaurant, the legendary Lombardi's, in 1994. Its first iteration opened way before that, however, around 1905, and also on Spring Street. It is considered to be the very first pizzeria in the country.
So there's a lot of history behind this modest, ordinary-looking pizza place — but you don't need to know any of it to get excited about Bellucci. It's a solid new pizzeria, featuring a just-large-enough selection of slices and pies to keep things interesting, run by a guy who really knows his stuff. Definitely a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
Bellucci's slices fall squarely into the classic NYC fold category, with just enough structure to accommodate one-handed, hauling-ass-down-the-street eating, if necessary. I wolfed down four of these beauties the other day while standing out in front of the place on a cold and blustery patch of 30th Avenue sidewalk, and there are few meals that make me happier, or are as evocative of my entire life.
The clear winner is the Vodka-Roni, a very good fresh mozz/pepperoni slice that gets a ladle of zippy vodka sauce dumped on top just before serving. It's a bit messy, but you won't care. It's delicious. The Sonny Supreme is also very good, a meat party (sausage, pepperoni) with plenty of special guests (onions, mushrooms, herbs) to keep things jumping.
There's a vegan version of this slice as well, called the MIke Tyson and topped with the suddenly-everywhere NUMU "mozzarella" and various fake meats to decent effect, though I think I'd skip this one next time. Better was the Veggie Royale, a vegetarian slice with plenty of depth and heft, a bunch of broccoli rabe doing a lot of the good work here. You can get sauces on the side as well, including a crock of tangy Ranch, which is always better on pizza than I remember, and a no-joke Fermented Hot Sauce, which should be applied with caution.
Pies come in two styles: the 18-inch Old School New York Round, and the 12-inch Metropolitans, which are available in adventurous assemblages like the Jersey-Licious with Taylor ham, egg, cheese, and Sriracha; the You Say Potato with provolone and Yukon golds; and the Butter Me Up with sausage, broccoli rabe, and brown sage butter. And, if you want, Bellucci will make you a gluten-free version of any Metropolitan pie.
The initial plan for Bellucci, way back in December of 2019, was to open on lower Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, right near the IFC and close enough to Joe's so that, as the pizzaiolo said, "the line to eat at my place would extend down past their front door." The pandemic changed all that, but setting up shop in Astoria, where Bellucci happens to live, turned out to be the smarter move anyway. "I always wanted to run a real neighborhood joint, and this is definitely a real neighborhood. I've met everyone on the block this past month, and I can't wait to keep feeding them all."
Bellucci Pizza is located at 2904 30th Avenue, near 29th Street, and is currently open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily (718-971-1074; belluccipizza.com)