For as far back as anyone can remember, if you asked a New Yorker about the best pizza in the city, they'd quickly spit back their favorite corner slice in their old neighborhood. But about seven years ago, the dining room of Roberta's in Bushwick--and its roaring wood-burning oven--changed that answer for good. For everyone. Suddenly there was a different league of pizza in town, and Roberta's Pizza Czar Anthony Falco (and dad to Roman, 1.5, and Frank, 4), was giving everyone's old standbys a run for their money. So who better to round out the third installment of our Bugaboo series than this trailblazing dad?
Like the Bugaboo by Diesel stroller that you've seen over the past few weeks in part one and two of our series with Bugaboo, Falco and his team at Roberta's were responsible for bringing an inventive and rebellious spirit to a piece of the food industry that was yearning for a bit of complexity.
But don't think that means throwing out the roots of what pizza actually is. Every pie made at Roberta's has a base of nostalgia, since Falco grew up eating his own grandma's homemade sicilian pizza. A lifelong pizza fanatic, Falco never actually cooked pizza professionally before Roberta's. Talk about on-the-job training. Clearly an obsession with wood-burning ovens, combined with solid pizza-making genes and pure passion for the craft, are the only ingredients truly needed to create noteworthy meals over and over again.
We recently visited Falco and his son Roman at Roberta's, and he revealed the one ingredient he treasures above all in his recipe for parenting: his wife. Gotta give it to this dude. Here's a little more about his path to fatherhood.
What do you love about raising kids in NYC?
The huge variety and diversity of pizza options. It's also a great experience to walk around your neighborhood with kids. People engage with you more than if you were just by yourself. And of course the museums and parks.
What surprised you most about becoming a dad?
It was almost psychedelic in the way that kids take you back to experiences you had as a child. You become used to the mental construct of adulthood, and forget that the world is a very different place as a child--it's scary, you have no freedom, and it can be incredibly frustrating. But at the same time there is infinite possibility and the littlest things can be magical.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
How did you end up doing what you're doing?
I was promised that Roberta's was a secret front for Ninjas.
What are some things you hope to teach your little ones about your craft?
You have to love what you do or what you make. It shows in the end product. Have fun but also take it seriously, be in pursuit of perfection while understanding that perfection is impossible.
How has becoming a dad impacted your work and creativity?
It actually fueled the most creative and productive period of my life. When I saw my oldest son's face for the first time my reaction was, "Shit, I need to do something this kid will be proud of."
What's your best strategy for achieving a family/work balance?
There hasn't been much balance up until now. My wife Bex is a supermom and does everything. I'm a workaholic but I'm trying to delegate more.
How has your style changed since becoming a parent? Do you have a dad uniform?
It hasn't really changed very much. No more mediums, more XLs. No more funny hair cuts, actually no haircuts anymore at all. I wear Roberta's apparel pretty regularly because it is super awesome dad wear! www.robertaspizza.com/shop
What everyday things have made you realize that being a parent involves bravery?
I make pizza. You'd need to interview my wife, who is a full-time mom, about bravery.
Photography by Justin Borucki.
This post was brought to you by Bugaboo.
Bibdana on Roman by Kid Falco