He's a self-taught business owner who went from IT to mastering the art of serving up delicious Italian recipes.
Once you step inside his pizza joint, you’ll quickly realize where Tony Desimone is from. For the past 15 years, he’s made it his mission to bring a sense of New York style and flavor right here to the First Coast.
"I started out doing IT down here and then just saw an opportunity and I was like 'Let’s give it a try,' and then realized how difficult the restaurant industry can be," Desimone said.
Here at his local pizzeria, he prides himself on using the freshest ingredients.
"Everything we do here is the most expensive ingredients I could buy -- top quality, everything is done fresh," he said. "The dough is made every day, the sauce is made every day, cheese is cut every day. That makes a big difference, it’s not a packaged product."
When it comes to Desimone's menu, he started out with pizza, but now it includes everything from seafood to pasta to sandwiches and wraps. Italian recipes that you typically won’t find in the South.
One of his signature items is called the Grandma Pizza, an old-school dish that’s made a little bit different from your traditional style pizza.
"Rather than stretching the round pizza, what you do you is flip the ingredients upside down," he explained, "so you put the cheese on the bottom and the sauce on to, and I think the difference is we put olive oil and an additional cheese and Parmesan and it’s a unique flavor."
Desimone's pasta is also a hit. The Penne Alla Vodka is loaded with flavor.
"You take vodka and you burn off the alcohol, but you want the residual flavor," he said. "You mix that with bacon and a little bit of garlic and once you flambé that and we add some heavy cream that we add to the spaghetti sauce, you cook it down until you have a very unique flavor."
The garlic knots that come with his mother’s secret sauce is also a popular go-to item.
"We top it with fresh garlic and oil and some grated cheese and parsley, but that’s something that’s in every pizza shop in New York," he said.
FOR MORE INFO:
TonyD's New York Pizza & Restaurant
8358 Point Meadows Dr. #10, Jacksonville, Fl 32256
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.- 9 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.