Andy Favilla, who owns Favilla’s New York Pizza in West Asheville, is headed to the 2014 Pizza Expo in Las Vegas in March to compete against contestants from all over the globe in the International Pizza Challenge in March.
Favilla will be one of 60 competitors in the specialty pizza category with his primavera pizza — the same recipe that took top honors in the specialty pizza category in the 2012 Asheville Pizza Showdown. His wife, Jeanette, will also compete, in the two-topping category. “He taught me how to make pizza, so I’m going to listen to him,” she says, adding, “He wants me to go with sausage and onion.”
The two met nine years ago in an Orlando, Fla., pizzeria. “I walked in looking for a job,” remembers Jeanette, “and he was working there.” But she didn’t start making pizzas until a year-and-a-half after they opened their Patton Avenue eatery. “Andy had been working 13 hours a day, every day, since we opened; he was exhausted. I knew he needed relief, so I told him to show me how to make pizzas. He thought I was joking.” But after making only four for her meticulous husband, Jeanette says, “Andy was amazed. He finally went home.” She’s been working at the restaurant ever since.
Andy began making pizzas at the age of 8. “They had to shoo me out of the shop,” he recalls. “By the time I was 11, I had a paying job at my uncle’s pizza place in New York.”
Like father, like son: 20-year-old Daniel Favilla is working in the family business, running the back of the kitchen. The Favillas also have three younger children, ages 5, 7 and 8.
With business thriving, Favilla’s is looking for a pizza maker with three to five years’ experience. Favilla’s Facebook page advises applicants to just show up at the restaurant for an interview; no phone calls. But what if the perfect candidate is living in New York? “Then they should be smart enough to make that call,” Andy jokes. But Jeanette cautions prospects, “He’s very particular; he won’t take just anybody.”
Favilla’s New York Pizza, 1093A Patton Ave., Asheville 28806; 225-3032; favillasnewyorkpizza.net