LOCAL STORIESNOVEMBER 30, 2021
Rising Stars: Meet Tony Macaroni
Today we’d like to introduce you to Tony Macaroni. Them and their team share their story with us below:
Born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Chef Tony Macaroni received his start in the culinary field by shadowing his parents in their various Italian restaurants in New York. In his pursuit of taking the culinary world by storm Tony enrolled in the New York Restaurant School in Manhattan. He was able to travel throughout Italy, France and Germany honing his skills and mastering European cuisine. Chef Macaroni has received many accolades throughout his career, he’s been featured in many local magazines from New Jersey to Florida, he’s competed on Network TV cooking shows, and in 2015 he was invited to attend the Annual New Jersey Wine and Food Festival at Crystal Springs Resort, where he dazzled the judges and event-goers with his Award-Winning skirt steak recipe
Chef Tony has been the private chef of countless celebrities, actors, and musicians.
Chef Tony Macaroni & Co. was developed by Chef Tony Macaroni and his wife, Tabitha. We are family-owned and operated, offering Authentic Italian/American cuisine. Our concept includes small brick and mortars, food trucks, on and off-premises catering, with ideas of franchising in the future.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
When the country shut down for Covid-19 my wife and I decided to invest in a food truck. We went into the American Legion Post 111 as the commissary for the food truck. We figured that we would have a menu available for the customers in the lounge of post 111 since the bars were beginning to reopen. We had a beautiful truck that was being custom-built for us… so we thought. The man took our down payment and was in contact with us for the first month and then it became very hard to contact him. He finally told us that he would not be able to produce a truck for us and that he would give us our down payment back. We never heard from him again and we never got our down payment back. We could have given up and walked away, but we chose to make something of it and continue to build our company into something bigger than we had originally planned.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I specialize in Authentic Italian-American scratch cuisines. I am most known for using the best products and making most of our food from scratch. I do not cut corners to make it easier for me, I cook everything to order. I love being in the kitchen cooking and I put love in everything I make. I am proud of my strong Italian heritage. What sets me apart from others is that I came from Italian immigrant parents. My mom was raised on a farm in Cantalupo nel Sannio and my dad was raised in a fisherman’s family in Villa San Giovanni. I was taught to make homemade sauce, pull mozzarella from curd, make macaroni (pasta), make sausage, butcher meats, prepare fish and seafood dishes, and much more the “old school” way they did it in Italy. I get my strong work ethics from my parents as they taught by example. They worked very hard in their restaurant to achieve the American dream. My wife (Tabitha) and I continue to work hard every day to continue to grow our business into our own American dream.
What were you like growing up?
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. My parents sent me to St. Patrick’s semi-military Academy to keep me off the streets. During the summers I was working in the kitchen at the restaurant my parents owned. When I was not in the kitchen, you could find me skateboarding and breakdancing with my friends. My dad used to take my brother and I on weekend camping trips to go fishing. Every summer my family would take a trip to Walt Disney World. This was where my love for Disney began. I took cooking classes at Freehold Boro High School. After high school, I attended New York Restaurant School in Manhattan to obtain a culinary degree and a BS degree in Hotel Restaurant Management.
Primi Ristorante Italiano
From Our Editors Groupon
With its plates of homemade pasta, sautéed marinated chicken, and seafood dishes lit by streaks of neon and sided with martinis, Primi - under new ownership - evokes the image of both a homey Italian restaurant and a swanky nightclub. That's because executive Chef Tony Macaroni spent years not only mastering the cuisine of his native Italy, but also working in the kitchens of high-class hotels cooking for celebrities such as Evander Holyfield, Scott L. Schwartz, and Bob Newhart. Together with sous-chef and baking specialist Kenneth Kopcsik, Chef Macaroni whips up elegantly plated dishes such as a thin-sliced tenderloin carpaccio, wild-mushroom ravioli in sage butter reduction, and a slowly braised lamb shank served with broccoli and homemade croquette. An extravagant selection of wines from the Americas and Europe complement the flavors of mussels in garlic butter while four-course chef's table events allow guests to experience the luxury of having their own personal chef.
JULIE BRANAMAN | TUESDAY, JUNE 25, 2013
At age 10, while other kids were riding bikes and playing tag, Tony Macaroni was in the kitchen of his family's Brooklyn home learning the art of making hand-crafted mozzarella.
His father, his instructor, was teaching the finer points of cooking -- a tradition common among Italian men and their sons.
Fast forward 30 years to today and you'll find Executive Chef Macaroni (yes, that is his family name) working and pulling curd into soft shapes of fresh mozzarella at Primi Ristorante Italiano in downtown St Petersburg.
Macaroni and sous chef Kenneth Kopcsik work daily to make every menu item from scratch and use all local fish and produce, in addition to chicken, beef, veal and lamb.
Moving from the Garden State six years ago, Macaroni says he stays in Tampa Bay to take advantage of Clearwater's white sand beaches, Ybor City's lively night-life and Downtown St Pete's fabulous art scene.
83 Degrees Managing Photographer Julie Branaman stepped into Macaroni's kitchen for a step-by-step look at the art of mozzarella making. Watch the photo slideshow as Chef Tony explains how to make the delicate cheese by hand.
Seminole Heights' American Legion Post 111 now hosts takeout concept run by Chef Tony Macaroni
And he's got a food truck on the way
By Jenna Rimensnyder
Food & Drink Editor Creative Loafing Oct. 23, 2020 9AM
This year, American Legion Seminole Post 111 snagged the Best of the Bay critic’s pick award for “Best Unlikely Venue” when it comes to attracting an eclectic crowd to the bar and hosting live musical performances. Staying true to its title, the Post is now home to a gastropub run by Chef Tony Macaroni.
With a personality as big as his name, Chef Tony took over the kitchen last month and has been slinging Italian American eats alongside bar food classics.
CL linked with Chef Tony Macaroni over the phone to get the details on his culinary endeavors in Tampa Bay.
“We are doing 5-star cooking in a little place,” the chef said while one speakerphone while his hands are busy prepping fresh gnocchi for the day’s service.
When he’s not in American Legion’s kitchen, he’s doing the shopping for the week at local grocery stores, plotting his next business venture and competing in cooking competitions around the country.
“This is a scratch kitchen,” he says proudly. From mozzarella to pasta, Tony Macaroni says he’s one of the only chefs in Tampa Bay still cooking the old school way and not cutting corners when it comes to quality and technique (although, truth be told, Seminole Heights is home to many chefs cooking with integrity).
The gastropub’s menu consists of breakfast sandwiches (served all day) ranging from $2.50-$4. Appetizers consist of bar favorites like french fries, onion rings, fried mozzarella, chicken wings and fried chicken strips. If you’re going the slightly elevated route, opt for fried shrimp and french fries of fried calamari. There are also a handful of pasta options like chicken parmigiana, shrimp penne vodka, fettuccine Alfredo as well as spaghetti and meatballs. If your diet needs a little something green, there are a few salad options to choose from. Diners can also grab heroes served by the half or whole, sandos like BLTs and turkey club or a personal pizza. By the way, the dessert lineup includes cannolis, deep-fried Oreos and chocolate cate.
These are your ordering options: order on-site and wait in the Legion’s lounge with a cocktail or brew with a pager for Chef Tony to prepare your dish, call in for pickup, or have food delivered through GrubHub or UberEats. All meals are for takeout service only,
Chef Tony Macaroni is working in the American Legion Seminole Post 111 kitchen—located at 6918 N. Florida Ave. in Seminole Heights—11 a.m.-10 p.m. seven days a week.
As if the chef isn’t busy enough, he is launching a food truck, Chef Tony Macaroni and Co., next month serving up authentic American-Italian cuisine. That means pasta, fried calzones, cannolis and whatever else he can whip up with limited space and unlimited imagination.
“It’s going to be an old school Italian restaurant on wheels," he said.