VB3 - Restaurant, Pizzeria & Bar - 201.420.4VB3 - 475 Washington Blvd. Jersey City, NJ 07310

About VB3 - Chef & Staff Bios

Michael Colletti - Head Chef / Owner

Chef Michael Colletti began his culinary journey at a young age growing up watching his grandparents and father, who migrated from Sicily, preparing the family recipes with home grown ingredients such as figs, cardoons and persimmons. This early influence and curiosity led him into the family business — where it all started with dough — when he studied bagel-making at his father’s side and then learned the ropes at his cousins’ pizzeria, Villa Borghese. The discovery of his natural palate and affinity for cooking led him to attend the Culinary Education Center in Asbury Park, NJ. Degree in hand, he soon worked alongside iconic New York chefs Sirio Maccioni of the world renowned Le Cirque, as well as Drew Nieporent and Michael Bao at Mai House.

During Chef Colletti’s tenure as Chef de Cuisine at Mai House, the restaurant was awarded two stars by Frank Bruni of The New York Times, and named among the Top 10 Best Restaurants in New York City by The New York Times. He spent more than two years at Mai House; during that time Chef Colletti traveled throughout Vietnam for several months to study the local food and culture, and was chosen to guest chef at the 5-Star Renaissance Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

After five years in New York, he decided to join friend and celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn in Washington D.C. at the Sunnyside Group. There he would play a vital role in the conceptualization of Chef Mendelsohn’s restaurant, Good Stuff Eatery, located in Capitol Hill. With the national success of Good Stuff Eatery, Chef Colletti was invited to participate in Food Network’s 2009 Food & Wine Festival “Rachel Ray Burger Bash”, in both Miami and New York, where he earned back-to-back victories for his creation of the “Colletti Smokehouse Burger”. Food Network then invited Chef Mendelsohn and Chef Colletti to compete in an episode of Iron Chef America, where they would “Battle Prosciutto” versus world famous Chef Michael Symon in an episode that aired in March 2010.

Chef Colletti was then given responsibility for opening and overseeing operations at the second Spike Mendelsohn venture, We, The Pizza, also in Capitol Hill. We, the Pizza became an instant sensation, and within three months of opening was voted one of the “Top 50 Best Pizzerias in America” by USA TODAY.

Giuseppe “Big Joe” Russo - Dining Room GM / Owner

Giuseppe (Joe) Russo is the General Manager of VB3. In this role he will be responsible for the day- to-day management of the restaurant and special events. Joe comes to VB3 as an experienced entrepreneur and restaurant owner. While attending college and earning his Bachelor’s degree at Rutgers the State University, he was being groomed for his career in the restaurant industry at his family’s restaurant and pizzeria, Villa Borghese. After college, Joe decided to continue to work alongside his father and uncle in the family business. With five years’ experience under his belt, Joe decided to venture out with his cousin, “Little Joe” Russo, and open their own restaurant and pizzeria. In October of 2006, they opened Villa Borghese II, located in the heart of Helmetta, New Jersey, and within five years, the business has blossomed into a profitable venture. In 2012, he decided to join his cousins Mike Colletti, Giuseppe “Little Joe” Russo , Gary and Ricky Leff to create VB3. Joe was born and raised in Elizabeth New Jersey. Both of his parents came from the same town in Sicily. He and his family now reside in Millstone, NJ.

Giuseppe “Little Joe” Russo - Pizzeria GM / Owner

Giuseppe (Joe) Russo is the General Manager of VB3 Pizzeria. In this role he will be responsible for the day to day management and finances of the VB3 Pizzeria. Joe comes to VB3 as an entrepreneur and restaurant owner beginning his career at the young age of 15 working in the family restaurant/pizzeria business. Upon graduating Rutgers the State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and a brief stint at Merrill Lynch, Joe decided to bring his new financial and management skills back to the family business. For six years he managed Villa Borghese in Fords, New Jersey and then he and his cousin, “Big Joe” Russo, decided to venture out on their own in 2006 and open Villa Borghese II located Helmetta, New Jersey, creating a profitable venture. In 2012 he decided to join his cousins Mike Colletti, Giuseppe “Big Joe” Russo, Gary and Ricky Leff to create VB3. Joe was born and raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He currently resides in Millstone, NJ.

Brian Lacayo - Sous Chef

Brian Lacayo learned a lot about food growing up in New York City, especially while watching his grandparents Elease and Isaac prepare family meals. Brian knew he wanted to be a chef, and with his family’s encouragement, began his culinary career in the summer of 1998 in kitchen positions, first at Outback Steakhouse and then Legal Seafood.

In the fall of 2004, he joined fellow Chef Tard Cameau for a short time at Blue, an Italian American restaurant in Orangeburg, New York, where he delved into the dough, literally, learning the craft of pizza making. He then made his way back to Manhattan to work with Chef Chris Biecher at V Steakhouse in the role of meat entremetier and had responsibility for the 1100 degree grill, or “the beast” as they dubbed it.

After four years, Brian decided to move back to New York in January of 2012, and embark on his next venture —joining his friend and colleague Chef Michael Colletti to open VB3 Restaurant & Bar, a modern seasonal Italian restaurant in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Brian is a native New Yorker and now resides in Spring Valley, NY. In his free time he enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring his passions cooking, music and movies.

John Sergentakis -
Beverage Program Manager

John Sergentakis joins the VB3 team as Beverage Program Manager. At VB3 John will be responsible for creating the wine and cocktail list with Chef Mike Colletti, featuring hand-crafted Italian style drinks, and overseeing bar staffing, training, drink pairing and bartending. John is a seasoned Bar Manager and Mixologist with more than 11 years of experience at notable restaurant/bars in New York including Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental, Dos Caminos, Mercer Kitchen, TAO and Eve Ultra Lounge. John has become a specialist in tequilas and has completed various wine courses.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York, raised in Manalapan, New Jersey and currently resides in Weehawken, New Jersey. John is also an active actor and model making appearances on Law and Order SVU, various Comedy Central shows and advertising for Mark Ecko.

Gary Leff- Partner

Gary Leff is the Founder and President of G. Leff Security Systems. Gary became an entrepreneur at the age of 18 when he started G. Leff Security after briefly working for a security company in high school. G. Leff Security Systems is a full-service security company that provides a wide range of alarm systems, fire alarm systems, card access, audio/visual and central monitoring services to residential, industrial and commercial clients from Virginia to Boston since 1980. In 2005, Gary expanded his business by establishing divisions that service luxury multi-residential apartments and high-rise luxury apartments. G. Leff Security Systems is located in Cliffwood, New Jersey and has 22 employees.

With his enterprising spirit still going strong, Gary has entered a new and different business venture with his close friends/partners, opening VB3 Restaurant and Bar & VB3 Pizzeria in Jersey City, New Jersey. Gary took a lead role in the concept, design and construction of the business while his restaurateur partners are responsible for the day-to-day operation of the business. Opening a restaurant has been a long-time dream of Gary's that has now come to fruition. Gary currently resides in Long Branch, New Jersey.

Ricky Leff- Partner

Ricky Leff is currently Vice President of G. Leff Security Systems where he is responsible for supervising field staff and overseeing the service department in all aspects. G. Leff Security Systems, founded by his brother Gary, is a full service security company which provides a wide range of alarm systems and fire alarm systems, card access, video surveillance and central monitoring, serving residential and commercial clients from Boston to Virginia for more than 30 years. In addition to G. Leff Security Systems, Ricky is a partner in VB3 Restaurant & Bar and VB3 Pizzeria, a joint venture with his close friends/partners. Ricky began his career at United Parcel Service (UPS) in 1977, and spent 18 years delivering packages to commercial and retail outlets, until he left in 1995, to join G. Leff Security Systems.Ricky resides in Toms River, NJ with his wife and two children.