Article by Emma Rudy
Mikey Pomodoro has now opened a pop-up in Hell’s Kitchen, located inside Badshah. Run by two Native New Yorkers, Mike and Marco, it is a true example of following your dreams. With persistence, perseverance, and determination, they opened a popup selling classic Italian-style comfort food. With just 1,000 dollars they were able to start a business, which has become the advent of Mikey Pomodoro.
A little backstory
My experience at Mikey Pomodoro felt like being home. Mike welcomed me in and I could feel the deep passion and excitement he had to share his story, his food, and the journey that led him to where he is today. Mike was born and raised in Queens and is half Italian half Jewish. Marco is from Brooklyn and is half Indian half Italian. Mike met Marco as he managed a restaurant and Marco worked as a front-of-house employee. Eventually, they each went in different directions but remained close friends.
Before the pandemic
Working as a front-of-house employee for 13 years, Mike played multiple roles. He was the lead server at Feroce and managed fine dining restaurants. Prior to the pandemic, Mike was veering away from the hospitality industry and hoped to transition into a career in finance. A few days later, our country shut down and Mike took some time to reflect. “I know I want to do restaurants, I did not want to do finance, but I did not like the world of restaurants,” Mike continues, “but, you have to be the change you want to see.”
The beginning of Mikey Pomodoro
As the whole country was cooped up inside their homes, Mike spent his days cooking. He knew he had the space to cook, and with the extra time on his hands, he started experimenting with pasta. “I would post TikTok videos for fun and my friends and family reached out to have me cook for them.” This was an exciting opportunity and Mike’s entrepreneurial talent took off. “This is when Mikey Pomodoro was born.” Shortly after, he started hosting private dinner parties and cooked for families in their homes.
Backyard Speakeasy brings Mikey Pomodoro to the party
Many people had to figure out ways to make an income during the pandemic, and a few of Mike’s friends who lived together turned their backyard into a speakeasy. They invited Mike to come and cook for them and their guests. “They did not charge me a penny and I was able to build my name.” They told him to purchase the ingredients, prepare the food, and sell it. Mike prepped for days beforehand.
Chicken Parm Kits
After the speakeasy events, Mike was determined to continue making food for friends and building on Mikey Pomodoro. He began selling Chicken Parm Kits out of his Harlem apartment. As he puts it, “It was a bit expensive as I could not get wholesale, so I had to buy everything individually at the grocery store.”
Mikey would make dozens of Parm kits and sell them frozen to friends and family. “I had friends from Queens who would drive all the way to my apartment to buy my kits.” Even though the kits were selling, Mike says, “It was not steady enough, but It was all about just trying to make it work.” January came and Mikey did not know what to do. “I was broke. I needed a partner, someone who can run the back and run the front.”
There is a line in Hamilton Mike mentioned, “No one has more resilience or matches my practical tactical brilliance.” This specific quote resonated with Mike. “I needed someone just as capable and hungry as I am.” He knew there was potential, he just needed to find the person with as much passion to be a part of the team.
Mikey Pomodoro’s first pop-up
Even though Mikey was not selling his food at the speakeasy anymore, one great thing came out of it; reestablishing a connection with Marco, who eventually became Mike’s partner. Mike had a friend who owned a Mexican restaurant in Forest Hills and they proposed the idea of doing a pop-up every Sunday in February.
“We both had no idea what he would say, or if we would make money, but Marco and I both brought $500 each to the table.” The first two weekends of their pop-up were a bit slow, but the following two weekends they completely sold out. “Marco and I put aside all the money we made, plus our stimulus checks,” and this is when Mikey Pomodoro’s pop-up in Hell’s Kitchen started.
A place to call home
After gathering the money they made at their first pop-up, they needed a place to call a home base. Marco became the manager at Badshah and thought it was a great opportunity to start a pop-up during their closing hours. They got a thumbs up and started cooking Italian comfort foods inspired by family recipes.
Handmade chikky parm sliders, meatball parm heroes, salads, fries, pasta, and their famous Mozarella En Carrozza sandwich. The Mozarella En Carrozza is in its essence, a step up from a fried mozzarella cheese sandwich. This cannot compare to your average grilled cheese, as they fry the potato bread. The intense flavor and crispiness of the cheese as it falls unapologetically from your mouth to the table is truly an experience in itself. It is beyond any grilled cheese I have eaten. They wanted to make their food accessible for everyone, so they offer gluten-free pasta and vegan cheese substitutes for most food items.
Support your inspiring locals
Mikey Pomodoro offers a real touch of home. Mikey Pomodoro aspires to cook high-quality, homemade Italian food inspired by family recipes that is affordable. With so many out of towners moving to New York City, Mikey Pomodoro wants to continue with the generations of Italian cooking he grew up around, and share it with us all.
Do yourselves, your friends, and your family a huge favor and come and support Mikey Pomodoro located on 788 9th Avenue, open Monday-Friday from 11-4 PM. Order on their website or Instagram for delivery, and do not forget to check out their epic merchandise!
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Emma Wrayne Rudy is a food connoisseur ready to indulge in every chance she gets to explore the beauty of New York City’s endless food scene. Emma’s writing style focuses on local hidden gems, food carts, food trucks, ma and pa joints, and eats that are affordable for everyone to try. With the diverse culture New York offers, she wants to emphasize on the foods that are less talked about and create a story behind each one. Growing up in Los Angeles at the age of seventeen Emma’s curiosity for food started as she went to every restaurant she could and wrote reviews on her experience, the ambiance, and her meals. Moving to New York a year ago she is ready to take on the immense food culture New York City has to offer, and continues to dedicate her days to writing as much as she can to pursue her dream as a food writer and storyteller.