ANDIAMO RISTORANTE & PIZZA NAPOLETANA
Youthful owner discovers the joy of making his dream a reality
by Rob Lauer
Walking through the front door of Andiamo Ristorante and Pizza Napoletana, one enters a space that is both elegant and welcoming. The warm atmospheric lighting invites one to sit, relax, and enjoy an evening of fine dining, drink, and conversation. To the left is an enormous glistening bar with seating for 18- one of the largest in Chesapeake.
On this particular morning, seated at a nearby table is Biagio Scire, the surprisingly young creator and owner of this impressive establishment.
Biagio admits that people are often taken aback by his youth. "Sales reps or customers will come in and ask me if they can speak to the owner, thinking I'm just an employee because of my age," he says. "I inform them that I am the owner, which always causes me to smile."
Though Biagio never imagined that he would one day own a restaurant, one could say that it seemed to be his destiny. "I was born in Brooklyn, New York, in a pizza restaurant," he reveals with a smile.
His parents, Biagio Scire, Sr. and Nerina, were natives of Italy, but met in Brooklyn, New York where they were married. There Biagio Senior learned the art of making New York Style Pizza. Relocating to Virginia, the couple opened Anna's Pizza in Newport News before returning again to New York. It was during that time in the city that Biagio Junior was born.
"In 1991, we moved back to Hampton Roads," Biagio recalls. "My uncle opened a pizzeria, Frank's, in South Norfolk. My father opened Frank's II here in Chesapeake. It was a neighborhood pizzeria serving New York-style pizza and popular Italian dishes. I worked there my entire life, bussing tables as a kid, and doing my homework there in the afternoon when I was older."
A self-described pizza fanatic, Biagio never saw himself owning a restaurant until taking life-changing vacations to Atlanta and Dallas. There he tasted Neapolitan pizza for the first time. Because it is baked in wood-burning ovens, Neapolitan pizza offers a taste experience utterly different from that of New York-style pizza.
Deciding to master the art of making Neapolitan pizza, Biagio flew to Los Angeles to be trained by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana.
"After attending the Neapolitan pizza course, I was put in contact with a pizzeria in Washington, DC, where I worked to get hands-on experience," Biagio recounts. "I made the pizza many times and failed miserably many times. But I never gave up. At the time, very few people believed in me, but that didn't stop me. I got my ducks in a row, signed a lease for a property in Great Bridge, and at age 29, I opened Andiamo Pizza Napoletana in March of 2018. We served pizzas, a few sandwiches, a couple of salads, beer, and wine, but the pizza was the main event."
"At the time,
very few people believed in me,
but that didn't stop me."
- Biagio Scire
"I had finally opened my pizzeria, and things were going great," Biagio continues. "Then my life took a turn for the worst. My mother, Nerina, passed away five months later. My mother was the backbone of our family. It's been very tough for all of us. She was the hardest working woman I've ever known. She did absolutely anything and everything she could for our family. She's been gone for over a year, and it's still unreal to me."
In the aftermath of his beloved Nerina's death, Biagio Senior decided to sell Frank's II after 27 years in business and retire.
"It was very bittersweet," Biagio Junior recalls. "But I was determined to remain positive and do things that I felt would make my mother proud."
Biagio began envisioning a high-end Italian restaurant- the kind of establishment he felt was lacking in Great Bridge. Suddenly he had a new purpose: to make that vision a reality. He invited both of his brothers, Giuseppe and Giovanni, to join him at Andiamo and help him expand the business.
"After being in business for only 16 months at the original Andiamo location, we opened the expansion this past June 26," Biagio says with pride. The operation of the new restaurant is very much a family affair- from the menu offerings to the sumptuous dÃ©cor.
"My brothers and I designed the look of the place to our liking," Biagio explains. "For our menu, we decided to bring over a lot of the dishes that my father served at Frank's. Our menu not only features pizza, but chicken, pasta, veal, and eggplant dishes as well. We've also created a new dish in honor of my mother: Chicken alla Nerina."
Since the restaurant's soft opening in June, business has been booming. Andiamo is quickly becoming the area's premier venue for authentic Italian fine dining.
"I take care of the pizza,"Biagio says. "Giuseppe is the chef, and Giovanni takes care of everything else. My father might be retired, but can still be found in the dining room most nights. He goes from table to table, greeting customers, and telling stories about my mother, as well as a ton of other stories that he has. It's a beautiful thing being together with my father, my brothers, and so many of our customers from Frank's and the original Andiamo pizzeria under a different roof."
Biagio smiles as he contemplates the course his life has taken, as well as the values of family and community.
"I used to go to school right across the street from Andiamo at Great Bridge Middle School," he says. "Back then, the land where Andiamo Ristorante now sits was covered with trees. When I was a student, never in a million years could I have imagined that one day I'd own a restaurant right across the street from my school."
"After a busy night, I'll have a seat at the bar with a glass of wine, and look around the restaurant," he concludes. "I think of how I've gone from bussing tables to having a drink at my own restaurant's bar. The feeling is indescribable."
Andiamo Ristorante & Pizza Napoletana
500 S. Battlefield Blvd.
Chesapeake, VA 23322