Dec. 24, 2020 By Allie Griffin
An Italian restaurant in Astoria received a $100,000 in donations just in time for the holidays, after its owner posted a viral video of himself dining outside in last week’s snowstorm.
The video posted by Trattoria L’Incontro owner and chef Rocco Sacramone grabbed the attention of Dave Portnoy, founder of the online sports & pop culture website Barstool Sports.
Portnoy, known for his “one bite” pizza review videos, paid Trattoria L’Incontro a visit the day after the snowstorm and dined outside with Sacramone.
He gave the eatery’s pizza an 8.4 and spoke with Sacramone about the video he posted in the snowstorm and the struggle to run a business during the pandemic.
The restaurateur said he posted the video to bring attention to the difficulty of outdoor dining in the winter. The state closed down indoor dining in the city earlier this month.
“I wanted to bring the point across that to dine outside [in the winter], it’s almost impossible,” Sacramone said about the video.
The chef said he has had to let go the majority of his staff as the restaurant has moved to mostly take-out and delivery, with very limited outdoor seating. He went from 40 employees to just five, as of last week.
“My heart bleeds for my staff here because Sunday I let go about 13 or 14 guys from the dining room,” Sacramone told Portnoy in a video. “I was like an empty shell — just terrible.”
December is typically the busiest month of the year for the restaurant — which has served Astoria diners since 1999 — but now business is down 70 percent, Sacramone said.
Portnoy, who recently started “The Barstool Fund” to raise money for small businesses struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic, offered to help Sacramone.
He mobilized the Barstool fanbase and raised $100,000 for Trattoria L’Incontro through its fundraiser in just days.
“I am happy to help Rocco and L’Incontro through the Barstool Fund — his story and everything his restaurant stands for is what and who we are trying to help with this,” Portnoy told Patch, which was first to report the story. “I’m glad we could step in and bring light to his story and many other small businesses that are dying and struggling.”
Sacramone said he didn’t know what to say about the donations. He thanked Portnoy and said he wanted to cry.
To date, The Barstool Fund has raised more than $3 million to split between ten small businesses across the country.