WRIGHTSBORO – Entrepreneurship is as thick as the blood that runs through the veins of the Buffalino family. One of three brothers who own local businesses in the area, Andrew Bufallino developed a love for shaping food in his teenage years, and from his experiences as a butcher and travelling throughout Europe.
Now, two years into running Little Buffalo Pizza Shop in Wrightsboro, the well-versed chef is enticing customers back into his restaurant at 2535 Castle Hayne Road with a blend of authentic Italian dishes to go along with his signature twist on American classics. Not to mention, his special blend of cheese, which contains buffalo milk from the old country and organic cow’s milk from California, has a distinct taste not typical in these parts.
“I didn’t have the intention of starting a pizza spot at all when I moved here,” Buffalino said. “The opportunity came up and it worked out. It’s not just a pizza shop. The most rewarding thing about this business is seeing the instant gratification from your customers.
“I’m always learning,” he added. “Being a chef is an art. It never ends in the combinations, techniques and ingredients you can combine.”
As a native of Long Island, New York, Buffalino might have never been in the restaurant industry if it wasn’t for his first career.
Travelling overseas for five years as a model, he spent time in Paris, Milan, and Vienna. After meeting and getting to talk with American fashion designer Donna Karan of DKNY, Buffalino took part in several highly publicized campaigns for Versace, Ralph Lauren, and Dolce & Gabana. Buffalino, however, found himself gravitating away from the runway and toward the kitchen.
While the money was good and experiences second to none, Buffalino wasn’t fully into the high octane lifestyle of the fashion industry. Like any craft, the best way to gain the knowledge from those with skill is to build relationships. So, as he made his way to the many fine restaurants in Europe, Buffalino began fostering friendships in Italy and France. He learned the secrets to being a good chef by trading tips with the pros, based on experiences gained during his first job as a butcher back home in Long Island.
“I was able to bring something to these chefs different from the way they were used to when it came to the way they cut their meat,” Buffalino said. “From there I was given the opportunity to start making staff meals in these restaurants where they’d have four or five different chefs at one place at each station.”
From owning his first food venture in his hometown of Huntington, to working as a culinary professional in five-star restaurants in New York City and personally serving a list of celebrities like Woodie Allan, Calvin Kline and Howard Stern, Buffalino has brought a resume one could only dream of to the Wrightsboro location.
Like all good Italian boys, Buffalino followed his family to Wilmington. While he admits The Little Buffalo Pizza Shop may be out of the way for some, he’s confident in saying “the trip is worth it.”
With siblings Chris Buffalino and Dr. Louis Buffalino running local businesses, Pink Trash and Life Line Chiropractic, respectively, Buffalino gets enjoyment from seeing his family contribute to the community through its work.
“We’ve always kind of worked for ourselves,” Buffalino said. “It’s just something we’ve always done. So to be here as an owner of a pizza shop for the first time, it’s about coming up with something new.”
Unlike some who like to keep their trade secrets to themselves, Buffalino is more than happy to share his expertise and donate his time when available to different benefits and fundraisers.
In addition to running the restaurant, Buffalino offers a variety of culinary related services. He’ll help plan out special events from dinner parties to weddings. Buffalino will also help you become a master chef in your own kitchen through his variety of cooking classes.
The Little Buffalo Pizza Shop is open Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Building connections in the business and through his experiences in life has landed Buffalino opportunities to work in front of the camera. Watch his sizzle reel from the show “Junior Chef America.”