1988 - Napoli, Italy
Mike Scotto, like every Italian young man, started cooking at age five. He began helping his mother prepare dinner for his family of 6, and later at the age of 16 decided to leave school and pursue his dream of becoming a professional chef. Mike worked throughout Italy and over seas on boats to expand his culinary expertise. A few years later, Mikes experiences and travels landed him in New York City. It was a snowy winter day, a rare sight for an Italian native. A metropolitan bus dropped him in the heart of Chinatown wearing nothing but flip flops and a t-shirt. His next destination was New Hyde Park, Long Island. Home to the famous Umberto’s Pizzeria & Restaurant.
Mike spent the next few years of his life working side by side with Umberto Corteo; the “grandma pizza legend”, who, since 1965, has been setting the bar for pizza on Long Island. Mike eventually earned Umberto’s blessing, and became the executive chef for all the Umberto’s locations in Long Island. Through Mike’s connection with one of the locations, he met another great chef, Joel Mejia. Mike could see that Joel was a great chef, and little by little began to teach him the secrets of traditional Italian cooking.
In return, Joel began to teach Mike the secrets to Latin cuisine.This is how the idea came to mind; “Imagine combining Italian and Mexican?” After the creation of many recipes, they decided to open Tony’s Tacos: A Mexican & Italian inspired restaurant, with of course a little tequila too.