Lake Norman Publications

Small touches enhance Pomodoro’s tradition

Pomodoro’s Italian American Cafe Owner Blake Dewey and Chef and Operating Partner Michael “Natty” Berridge show off one of the restaurant’s popular menu items, zuppa di pesce. Photo by Carrie C. Causey

Owner Blake Dewey considers diners and employees at Pomodoro’s Italian American Cafe family. And like any good relative, he listens to them.

Patrons may have noticed small changes at the Denver location with the addition of some lighter menu items, an expanded wine selection and a switch in the to-go containers and straws. The tweaks are little things Dewey said he can do to make people, and the environment, happier while still bringing the flavor and experience customers have come to expect.

“The changes we make tend to be very slow and very methodical,” he said. “They are changes based on what our clientele is looking for.

“The realization here is, I’ve gotten quite a bit older since I’ve started, and I’m starting to realize you’ve got to watch a little bit more of what you eat … That’s what slapped me in the head to say, ‘We have a lot of aging population here, and they’ve been asking for this stuff.’”

The best of the updated menu, along with the environmentally friendly to-go containers, will make their way to the Mooresville location early next year.

But big change isn’t something Dewey plans to see a lot of in the next few years. The restaurant’s consistency and the feeling of comfort, both in food and atmosphere, are qualities he believes have kept patrons coming back for nearly 30 years.

Pomodoro’s Italian American Cafe started in 1991 as La Pizza, which was aimed to be pizza-driven with a location that catered more for carry-out dining.

Dewey bought the business in 2007 having known “it could be more than it was,” and after making it through the recession, he proved it.

With its 2010 move to the current Mooresville location, at 168 Norman Station Blvd. Suite A, the restaurant opened itself up to more opportunities with a new atmosphere, double capacity and more traditional Italian American entrees.

“Immediately sales doubled,” Dewey said, adding they couldn’t hire people fast enough.

After the restaurant became a part of the Mooresville community and hearing new dining options were needed on the other side of the lake, Dewey opened the Denver spot at 7925 Natalie Commons Drive in 2016.

Mooresville’s eatery boasts a fireplace, patio and private dining areas, plus a bar with Italian imported tiles. Dewey wanted Denver’s look to be different but have that same level of comfort with a larger patio, colorful booths, a private dining area and decor aimed to make people smile.

But it’s also the food at both places that keeps people coming back.

“Our recipes are virtually unchanged since Day 1,” Dewey said, though they’ve added things to the menu based on popular demand.

He and Michael “Natty” Berridge, who is the chef and managing partner, take great care with their ingredients, including good quality sausage, olive oil and San Marzano tomatoes.

“The marinara is made from scratch with two different wines and 15 other ingredients,” Dewey said. “It’s a two-day process, but it’s not cooking that whole time.”

But don’t expect to find out how to make their food at home.

“We are very careful about recipes,” Dewey said. “Several recipes only three people know, and they are responsible for making them so you know somebody else doesn’t make them wrong.”

One of the most popular items is the veal parmigiana, hand-breaded and fried and then covered with marinara and mozzarella to bake before being served over pasta.

“People tell me it’s the best they ever had,” Dewey said, noting the Denver location sells three times more of the dish than in Mooresville.

Other sought-after menu items include the lasagna, with everything made from scratch except the pasta; spaghetti and meatballs; the chicken marsala; and the zuppa di pesce, with shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels and calamari in a broth made from tomato, wine, garlic and clam and then served over pasta.

In addition to the new lighter on the carbs offerings, Dewey said the menu also accommodates gluten-intolerance, vegetarianism and vegan needs.

Through their food, their customers and continued community support, the people at Pomodoro’s Italian American Cafe share their passion.

“We are not in the business because it’s great at making money,” Dewey said. “That’s not why we went into cooking and restaurants. We love what we are doing, and we are doing what we love to do.”

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