Bronx House Supper Club: An Exclusive Dining Experience For a Cause

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We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Bruno DiFabio, one of the owners of Bronx House Pizza to talk about the Bronx House Supper Club. Bruno is a 27-year veteran of the restaurant, television, competitive pizza making, consulting, and wild food foraging industries. He has worked for the Food Network for a number of years, most recently as a judge on the show Chopped. He is known as “the pizza geek” and has made numerous local and international appearances as a frequent guest on the Today Show, GMA, Access Hollywood, and Fox & Friends.

The first Bronx House Pizza location opened in May of 2019. “We currently have five locations. We will have nine locations open by the end of the year,” he told us. The current locations are Ormond Beach, Port Orange, Palm Coast (Airport and Hammock), and Lake Mary. The upcoming locations that are slated to open by the end of the year are St. Augustine, Anastasia Island, Nocatee, and St. Johns. “It’s not a franchise. We are locally owned. This is a labor of love. There’s nothing easy about the restaurant business. We take on working partners that have been disciples of ours for many years and that are ready, they’re seasoned professionals in the business,” he continued.

On Sunday, September 10 at 7:30 pm, Bronx House Hammock, located 5384 N Ocean Shore Blvd, Palm Coast, FL 32137, will hold their second Bronx House Supper Club. The goal of this event is to bring awareness to the United Way. Bronx House has created a tasty multi-course tasting menu, matched with masterfully chosen drinks that will take your taste buds on an excursion that could only be described as epic. But, there’s an exciting twist that sets this dining adventure apart from others. The tasting menu is kept under wraps. You’ll embark on a true culinary journey as you get together with other foodies, where each dish will come to life in front of you! The Bronx House has announced that the United Way of Volusia-Flagler will receive 100% of all ticket sales from the event. In addition to providing you with a fantastic dinner, your participation in this exclusive event will significantly improve the lives of those in need. This extraordinary experience is limited to 40 guests because it is an intimate affair. At the time of this article, only two tickets remain. You can purchase your tickets here. If you missed this event, there will be future ones to attend. Be sure to follow Bronx House Pizza on Facebook for up-to-date information.

When asked who came up with the idea of the Bronx House Supper Club, Bruno explained, “I guess I came up with the idea. I’ve been doing service projects and charitable events since the start of my teenage years. I mean, as an early teenager, when I was I think I was 14 or 15, I was awarded the United Way Volunteer of the Year where I grew up. And that wasn’t for kids. I wasn’t lobbying for it. I was in a pretty bad domestic violence household to say it as nice as could be. And I didn’t want to go home after school to be subject to that violence from my father. So, I just went to the Boys Club of America. I would go there every day after school, and I would volunteer my time, but I would pick up games for the younger kids, and I would just be present as a coach or a mentor, working under the people that actually worked for the Boys Club. And one day they came to my high school with a camera and informed me that I was the ‘United Way Volunteer of the Year’ and there was going to be a dinner in my honor. I was blown away by it. I was on the front page of the newspaper.”

He continued, “It’s a sad story, but my gym teacher came up to me and I asked him what all it entailed. He told me that I needed to put on a sports jacket and I said to myself that I didn’t have a sports jacket and I wasn’t going to ask my father for one. So I blew off the dinner. I didn’t go. And looking back on it now, I’m just so full of wonder. Like, what could that have led to? Where could that have led my life at that young age? Maybe it could have turned me on to something completely different. I felt sickened over it in my older years. In my younger years, I really didn’t care. So that’s my affiliation with the United Way.”

“I facilitated a feeding homeless and working class poor project in college, but I continued that through my business years. I was 24 when I opened my first Pizzeria and I aligned myself with a food bank and a homeless shelter called Open Door Shelter in Norwalk, Connecticut. I’ve been providing meals to them since the early 2000’s and subsequently they wanted to put me up for awards and I’ve chosen to remain anonymous. But yeah, I was a pretty big player with them for a long time. And now that I’m down here, I’m trying to just find different ways to give. So every time that I do an event like this, we’re giving 100% of the sales. We’re volunteering our resources so all of the money that comes in can be presented to the United Way in the form of a check,” Bruno explained.

We asked if he and his staff had hopes that this event would encourage other local business to find their own ways of giving back to the local community. “I kind of think that we’re laying down the gauntlet. Kind of like challenging other businesses to do the same because we are all collectively suffering. We’re all tightening our belts at the gas station, at the supermarket and everything else. Imagine what the charities are doing. We don’t have the extra to give that will give them a leg up. So, it’s honestly to also create awareness.”

Not only does Bruno give back locally through the Supper Club, he also donates to the Daytona Salvation Army. “Because my mom and I lived by very meager means. I always feel the need to help, especially the working class poor. We donate a lot of non-perishable goods to the Daytona Salvation Army Food Bank. And that’s actually kind of unique, too. We get elementary school students to help us. We promise them a pizza party with 100% class participation. So they can bring in one can of beans, and that’s a participation. But a lot of the families will bring in massive amounts of non perishables. And the kids get a pizza party, but this also introduces them to the act of service. Volunteering my time at the homeless shelter, you see not only the homeless that are in need of mental health assistance and shelter, but you see a dad and his son coming in with a Tupperware container, and they’re getting food for the week. And I think it’s just like the saddest thing in the world because he’s working, he’s trying to make ends meet, but he still needs a little bit, a little bit of a hand. So I think that’s huge too. But that’s what this particular event with the Supper Club is all about, bringing an awareness. We could all do a little bit more. That’s basically it,” he said.

“The outreach to the elementary school students is always tugging at my heart from what happened to me when I was a kid and falling into service, not knowing I was even providing service. I really think that if I didn’t fall into it, I might have been intimidated to try it. Like, well, what is service? So I think that it’s immensely important just for the kids to think along the lines of bringing in a can of food the first time and maybe the next time realizing they could do a little more like volunteering at the homeless shelter. It’s so rewarding. So absolutely rewarding. So I kind of get a kick out of I don’t think anybody’s really doing that,” Bruno explained.

He added, “The culinary aspect of the Supper Club is that we’re not doing pizza and spaghetti and meatballs, which we serve a great spaghetti and meatballs here, but we’re flexing our culinary chops. We don’t have any desire to run a five star restaurant, but that’s what we’re serving for the event. We’re serving really upscale, elevated meals. I’m classically trained in the kitchen as a chef, and that’s the kind of stuff that we’re serving. When I was a teenager, I had the opportunity to work with my uncle, who was the executive chef at the Phoenician Resort in Arizona, which is a multi million dollar country club. At the time, we had seven restaurants, and that’s where I really learned a lot about gastronomy. Those are some of the ideas that we bring with every single course that we serve. It’s not repeated. It’s completely fresh and different, but it’s something that we would never, ever serve here at Bronx House. It’s kind of hip in a way, and cool. And it’s a secret menu, so people really don’t even know what they’re walking into here. So we kind of think that’s fun.

We asked who creates the secret menu for the event. “Myself and Brad,” Bruno told us. “He’s my partner here. It’s a collaboration. We serve six courses, including a dessert course. All the guys that work here in the kitchen are pretty excited because they’re learning different things. Instead of serving a great Chicken Parmesan dinner, they’re learning new and different techniques. Yeah, it’s pretty cool for them to see. And we’re plating 40 dishes at an optimal level. It’s not something that they’re really used to, so it’s kind of cool.”

“I still live in New York. My best friend lives here in Palm Coast. When I say best friend, we were best men at each other’s weddings. We’re godfather to each other’s kids and stuff like that. And he’s in the pizza business. He owns Joe’s New York Pizza. So he and I collaborated on Bronx House Pizza almost five years ago. And that’s all we’re concentrating on now, is the growth of this company. Because we found so much early success here, we figured, hey, let’s keep going. We haven’t had any hiccups so far, but we’re creating first time business owners. Every partner that we have has been a first time business owner, and we’re creating jobs, like in this place here (referring to the Hammock Beach location). We created 40 jobs in the community, and that’s our goal at each store, to create 20 to 40 jobs well paying jobs in the community. The restaurant business has its own challenges to make ends meet. But we feel like if we give pleasant, friendly, outstanding service, the servers and the people that work the counter give top end service,” he explained.

As of now, the Bronx House Supper Club is held at the Hammock Beach location in Palm Coast. Bruno informed us that there is a possibility of holding them at the Lake Mary location as well.

By Kim Hunt

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