Although his family legacy is rooted in the restaurant industry, Antonio Esposito himself never desired to open one of his own. That was until he made cheesesteaks at his daughter Mia’s 6th birthday party this past May.
“I just wanted to see everybody’s face, how they’d react,” Esposito said of his party offerings. “I couldn’t make them fast enough. I put the sternos up, I was ready to put the sandwiches on, but every time I made one, it was gone. I couldn’t even eat one that day.”
“People were surrounding him to make those cheesesteaks,” Mascia Esposito, his wife, added. “That inspired him.”
Two weeks later, the couple popped up a tent in Calverton, grilled some thin-cut rib eye, and served cheesesteaks. They also began cooking their fresh eats at the Moriches Artisan Markets every Sunday at the New Amsterdam Nursery. As the weeks went by and the word spread in Center Moriches, the couple decided to dedicate their whole week to the nursery.
For three months, the couple, alongside their middle child, Alessio Esposito, and his friends, ran their tent. The operation is currently on pause, but for good reason: the Espositos are securing two food trucks. They await inspections and approvals to have one permanently stationed at the nursery, which Antonio Espositio said should be completed within the coming weeks. The other will make appearances at street fairs and festivals.
“I never thought about opening up a truck,” Antonio Esposito said. “It just happened. I honestly did not have a plan. I’m so overwhelmed, excited, and nervous at the same time because it got so big, so quick.”
The Espo’s Cheesesteak Factory menu boasts an array of classic and unique cheesesteaks. Customers can order a traditional cheesesteak with onions, mayo and white American, provolone or mozzarella cheese, and top it off with mushrooms, peppers, and hot cherry peppers.
There’s also the pizza steak, slathered in pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese, plus pepperoni for those who want the works.
The couple even incorporate some of their family favorites on their rotating list of specialty items. For their son, they serve Alessio’s Chopped Cheese, with colby jack, lettuce and tomato; and for their daughter, they craft the Mia’s Choice, balsamic-marinated grilled chicken topped with onion, mushrooms, fire-roasted red peppers, provolone, lettuce, tomato and a balsamic reduction.
The specialty menu even featured a bacon, egg, and cheesesteak as well as a broccoli rabe cheesesteak and a chicken alla vodka sandwich.
“It’s all handmade, homemade, wholesome goodness that we eat at home and I want to share to the world,” Antonio Esposito said. “I don’t want anybody to be excluded from what we normally have as Italians at home.”
Born in Monte di Procida, in Italy, Mascia Esposito now shares traditional dishes she made her whole life at home with her legions of customers. She created a fan favorite with The Sunday sandwich: her tender homemade meatballs smashed on the grill, topped with her savory Sunday dinner sauce, mozzarella and parmesan, and served on a brioche bun.
“There are so many ideas we have, and obviously, we have a limit on preparing things; that’s why we created the specials of the day,” Mascia Esposito said. “We have so many other things that we want to come up with that we made at home growing up with my childhood experiences.
“We already have so many regulars here,” she continued. “The way they’re walking towards us with a smile like they’ve known us for who knows how long, it’s wonderful; it makes you feel good about what you’re doing. You get to know these people; it’s very fulfilling.”
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