Dining Out

by Molly Reitter

MOORESVILLE – It is 6 p.m. on a Wednesday and the air at Pomodoro’s Italian American Cafe is starting to buzz. Every table is reserved and the bar is starting to fill up with patrons.

At 6:29 p.m. Connie Stevens is replaced with a soft sax and the gentle sway of “High Hopes” over the sound system.

At 6:30 p.m. on the dot, Francis Nazzaro also known as “The Sinatra Experience” begins his live tribute show with “I Thought About You.”

The show is not an impersonation, mind you, it is a tribute and it is ALL Sinatra.

“Do you like country music?” Nazzaro asks the crowd. A couple men in the back give a hoot in assent.

“That’s nice. I don’t know any. But that’s nice.”

The crowd laughs.

By 6:45, Nazzaro is working the crowd; sitting at booths and crooning away.

When you first enter, Pomodoro’s feels like a New York diner – the kind of place that is open until 4 a.m. There are vinyl tablecloths, cellophane wrapped deserts in a refrigerator case and a candy counter at the hostess stand.

Then you walk around the corner and see the bar. It has a marble top and brick foundation with a brass rail for your feet. Taut black leather chairs on chestnut colored wooden legs surround it. The copper espresso machine appears lit from within as it shines from the very center of the bar.

If not for the dual flat screen televisions suspended in the air, it could be a set from mid-town Manhattan in “Mad Men.” The dual New York ambience is purposeful, stemming from the cooking, the owner and, most importantly, the customers.

Patrons come to eat at Pomodoro’s from all over, but there’s an extraordinary number of transplanted Northeasterners.

“There are so many people who eat here from New Jersey and New York,” said New York native Blake Dewey, owner and a Culinary Institute of America graduate. “People come here so they can get the food they grew up eating up North.”

Dewey’s grandfather was Sicilian, so he understands that people are looking for good food and good company.

Pomodoro’s regulars Julie and John Marino, of Sherrills Ford, agree with Dewey.

“It is like coming home,” Julie Marino said. “The food is so amazing and everyone is so friendly.”

And those cellophane wrapped desserts? They are all homemade.

“They are to die for,” said John Marino. “You almost want to start with dessert!”

Pomodoro’s has been a favorite in Mooresville since 1991. In 2007, Dewey bought the restaurant and then moved it to its current location in 2010.

Prior to acquiring Pomodoro’s, Dewey was executive chef and part owner of the Pewter Rose Bistro in Charlotte for 16 years.

“Fine dining is tremendous fun,” he said. “I just loved the eclectic menu. But it can also really wear on you. I wanted to create a more casual dining experience and be my own boss.”

His employees also reflect the hometown feel; they smile easily and chit chat with the customers. Shelli Ciurca is a waitress who unsurprisingly hails from Rochester, N.Y.

“It is so fun to work here,” she said. “I used to run restaurants up North, but this is less stressful and more fun.”

One of her favorite dishes is the Chicken Piccata.

“Everything here is homemade, except for the pasta,” she said. “So it tastes like going to my grandfather’s house.”

And that is exactly the way the restaurant feels. Like going home again.