We talked to: HighBrow

We recently spoke to Andrew Brow, owner of HighBrow, a new restaurant that will open at the end of the month. We really appreciated his passion for his vision, his creativity, and his motivation.

Tell us a bit about your background and about why you wanted to purchase the space, which was Pizza Paradiso for 30 years.

I have worked in the restaurant business since I was 16, when I began at Spoleto Express. I then went on to be the chef and general manager at Paradise City Tavern at 24. I then moved to North Carolina for a while, moved back here, and became the chef Center Square Grill in East Longmeadow.  

My mentor and former boss, Claudio, and I were planning to go in on the new restaurant together, but ultimately, I offered to buy it outright. I felt it was time for me to go out on my own and execute my own vision, along with my business partner, Bill Collins.  I can cook exceptional Italian food, but I don’t want to compete in that area. I will still do woodfired pizzas, as they are always in demand and that’s what keeps a restaurant packed on a Monday night. However, I am also incorporating more upscale woodfired dishes, involving a wide range of ingredients, from chicken to octopus.  I will offer bargains nightly, such as a $12 woodfired fish dish on Sundays, a half-priced small pizza on Mondays, and a bottle of my private label wine when you buy two entrees on Wednesdays. I will also cater to a variety of dietary needs, offering vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. My entire team is sensitive and well-trained when it comes to allergies and dietary requirements of our customers, both in the kitchen and when serving food. We’ll offer tempeh steaks, a vegan sandwich on Hungry Ghost bread, plenty of roasted local veggie options, and homemade almond ricotta.

We’ll offer some “traditional” options with a bit of a twist, such as Not Your Mama’s Mac & Cheese, which will feature a touch of my private label beer, a blend of cheeses, and a topping of crushed Cheez-Its. Both our Brioche burger rolls and our city style desserts will be baked in-house by my pastry chef, who also happens to be my awesome sister-in-law. This is my take on approachable American dining with a refined twist.

What do you love most about the local business community?

Since I grew up here, I have great memories of all the events Northampton has had over the years, such as the Taste of Northampton, which always brought crowds of people. There was always heavy foot traffic, and thriving businesses. People seem to be worried that that is changing, but I disagree and firmly believe that things go down at times before they go up. Businesses change and evolve, and I see that happening now, too. I love that there are so many cool retail shops with a wide variety of offerings. I love the diversity--I see Northampton as a melting pot in its own right, and I believe as business owners, we can keep things moving forward and keep things fresh and vibrant. I love having great relationships with other businesses owners, and supporting each other. There’s a sense of community, camaraderie, and compassion in this city.

What do you love/appreciate most about Northampton in general?

The diversity and the fact that everyone is very accepting and understanding.

What positive changes do you see happening in Northampton and what changes do you want to make at HighBrow?

I feel like I’m making positive changes in the restaurant, by switching things up and creating a place from my own unique vision. I am really excited about Vince Jackson as the new Chamber director. I really appreciate the mayor, and I’m proud that my friend Mike Quinlan is running for city council. I feel like if we all work together, not just as business owners but as residents who care about the city, we can continue to make great strides.

Are there any upcoming events you are excited about, either in Northampton in general or at the restaurant?

First and foremost, our grand opening, which will be on September 30th! Also, I am looking forward to catering for the Northampton Jazz Fest’s executive board gala. I also love all the local events that go on, such as Arts Night Out, and I look forward to featuring some great local artwork in the restaurant.

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