Arrest in fatal shooting of owner of pizzeria featured on TV

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Federal officials arrested a man in connection with the fatal ambush of the owner of a famed New York City pizza restaurant.

Andres Fernandez appeared in federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday to face murder, robbery and weapons charges. He did not enter a plea. A phone message left with his lawyer, Avrom Robin, wasn’t immediately returned.

Court documents say investigators believe surveillance video, cellphone data and witness accounts tie Fernandez to the killing.

L&B Spumoni Gardens pizzeria owner Louis Barbati was gunned down in the backyard of his Brooklyn home in June after arriving home from work carrying a large amount of cash. The shooter, lying in wait and dressed in black, fired five rounds, and then fled on foot empty-handed in what appeared to be a botched robbery, police said.

An attorney for the Barbati family released a statement saying the family was relieved.

“The loss of Louis Barbati leaves a void that will never be filled, however the fact that someone is being brought to justice aides in the healing process,” attorney Arthur L. Aidala said in the statement.

The restaurant has been run by Barbati’s family for generations and has been featured on several TV food shows.

It also gained notoriety from testimony at the 2012 trial of a reputed Colombo organized crime family associate. A mob turncoat claimed that the defendant, who had married into the L&B family, flew into a rage when he became suspicious that a Staten Island pizzeria with alleged ties to a rival Mafia family stole a red sauce recipe.

The witness testified that as payback, the Colombos plotted to extort $75,000 from the owner of the Staten Island eatery. He said the owner ended up paying only $4,000 to settle the dispute.