Carol Cesone and Chef Antonio Bove, co-owners of Italian eateries Pomodorino Rosso in Valley Stream and Uva Rossa in Malverne, are doing more than their share to keep their tight-knit community going during the seemingly endless coronavirus crisis.
For starters, Pomodorino Rosso is open for takeout and delivery, something that can’t be said for many restaurants across the island. But Cesone says that even more rewarding is regularly donating meals to healthcare workers at nearby Long Island Jewish Valley Stream.
“We do it just because it’s the right thing to do … we’re not looking for a medal or anything,” says Bove, who started cooking at age 18 with a family business in Italy. “We also send food to the police, to churches, and other members of the community. We’re a very tight-knit community and we’re very fortunate to have successful businesses and people that have been very supportive of us as well.”
Cesone, who started out as a designer before partnering with Bove, says that initially both restaurants were shut down during the pandemic. But they decided to open Pomodorino Rosso for takeout so their staff could at least get “some source of income.”
“Between both restaurants, we had close to 35, 40 employees in total,” Cesone says, adding that for a majority of their employees, this work was their sole source of income. “We really are like a family in both restaurants, between the servers and the cooks.”
Cesone says that opening Pomodorino made more sense than opening Uva Rossa as they have a large pizza oven at that location. They boast that it bakes “some of the best pizza on Long Island.”
Some of the restaurant’s specials include eggplant rolls, grilled brussels sprouts, rigatoni Napolitano, chicken Uva Rossa, chicken Margherita, and various salads such as seafood and spinach salad.
Both Cesone and Bove report that so far their takeout business has been very brisk, and they praised the Village of Malverne for supporting them. They do the same for the community.
“We’ve donated all year long to many other local and civic organizations, such as schools, churches and others,” Cesone recalls.
But now, like many eateries, they’re stepping up and helping feed healthcare heroes working overtime on the front lines of the pandemic.
“We’ve donated a variety of dishes from pizza, penne, chicken dishes and salads to the hospital, enough to feed about 100 people at a time,” she says, adding that their donations were aided by the help of the Valley Stream Chamber of Commerce. The chamber designed a food donation schedule called a “meal train,” so that other businesses could regularly donate food to the hospital and make sure all the food was distributed to nurses, doctors, and other workers who were interested.
Cesone says they’ve donated to the hospital at least three times already by simply loading up their delivery van and dropping off the food.
“The food is a little something special for the healthcare workers to look forward to during an otherwise dismal day,” says Cesone.
Bove, who came to the U.S. in 1994 from Italy before opening Uva Rossa in 2013 and Pomodorino Rosso in 2018, says he’s always believed in supporting people in hard times.
Hospital executives also seemed heartened by the community efforts.
“The team at LIJ appreciates the thoughtful food donations for the caregivers on the frontlines,” said LIJ Medical Center Executive Director Michael Goldberg. “It’s reassuring to the team knowing that the community supports them with quality meals, which adds an element of regularity to their day.”
Cesone says that presently, business overall is good, thanks to a brisk takeout business.
“Weekends get very busy,” she says, adding that she hears people looking forward to going out and getting their food. “It’s like a nice diversion.”
And, at times, Cesone says that business has been so good it has “gotten out of control at times.”
However, she adds that the future is uncertain.
“I’m not sure how we’ll be at the end of this thing, when we can have people back in the restaurant,” she says. “This new way of life now seems normal, because we’ve been doing it for a few months already.”
Pomodorino Rosso is located at 47 Franklin Ave. in Valley Stream. It can be reached at 516-812-6171 or pomodorinorosso.com
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