After eight years in the kitchens of Westchester County staples Catania’s and Johnnie’s, Yonkers native Michael Abruzese’s passion for cooking was sparked. With these experiences under his belt, Michael formalized his training at the Culinary Institute of America, from which he graduated in 2000.
Following an internship at the Ritz-Carlton in St. Thomas, Michael’s next stop was Miami, where he trained under James Beard-award-winning chef Michael Schwartz at Nemo and Shoji Sushi. Here, Michael cultivated his love of Japanese cuisine and the expressiveness it embodies.
This experience served him well several years later, when he moved back to the Northeast and began working with Fernando and Gino Masci at Greenwich Village’s famed Il Mulino. Under Fernando’s mentorship, Michael was the natural choice to help open the doors and train the staff at Il Mulino Japan. When the franchise expanded to Dallas, Michael became the location’s Executive Chef. Michael’s next venture, Coal Vines, stemmed from his habit of making pizzas for the staff of Il Mulino’s Dallas outpost. They were so well received that he partnered with restaurateur Philip Romano to introduce Texas to New York-style pizza fired in the state’s first coal oven.