Mike Scotto’s inspiration for opening an Italian-Mexican-style restaurant stems from what he calls a universal love of bread.
Born and raised in Italy, Scotto grew up eating bread with every meal, an absolute must in his culture.
“My first breakfast when I was very young was bread dipped into wine, which in the United States you would get arrested for,” he joked.
He migrated to the United States around 8 years ago, and, with his knowledge of food and restaurants, started working in restaurants in Baltimore, New York City and New Jersey, eventually making his way to Long Island.
Along the way, he learned from his Latino and Hispanic kitchen colleagues about their cuisine.
“It’s been cool because you teach and you also learn, so I learned they use tortillas as bread,” he said. “If you can put anything onto bread, I guess you can eat anything on a tortilla.”
That’s when it clicked: Scotto thought instead of the traditional taco with meat, onion, and cilantro, how about adding chicken parm or a meatball?
His newest restaurant venture, Tony’s Tacos, incorporates just that, and much more.
A year and a half ago, he opened his first location in Floral Park and will soon debut his second store right in the heart of Huntington Village, at 281 Main St.
“When we started Floral Park, in the beginning, people didn’t understand the concept, and to get them to try was very hard, but once they tried, they got hooked on it,” Scotto said.
“We sell about a thousand tacos out of that little small store.”
“Not your average taco” is the best way to describe the overall customer experience at Tony’s Tacos, Scotto says.
There are five taco categories customers can choose from: “The Classic”, “The Oreganata”, “The Club,” “The Parm” and “The Gourmet.”
“The Classic” offers plenty of options for those looking for a straightforward, authentic taco.
Customers who are feeling adventurous can visit “The Oreganata” section of the menu for fish and meat topped with bread crumbs, “The Club” for something more fried, and “The Parm” for tacos with melted cheese.
“The Gourmet” option goes even further with creations like the hot dog and fries tacos, sausage and peppers taco, and “Tony’s Alla Scarpetta,” which is Scotto’s Italian take on the birria taco trend.
Scotto said he going for more of a food truck-style with the Huntington location: there will be no phone, people can walk in or order online, and the spot is mostly takeout-only with no seating inside.
If all goes to plan, he’s aiming to open Tony’s Tacos in Huntington at the end of September.
(Courtesy Facebook/Instagram photo)
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