Lifestyle

TikTok’s favorite Staten Island influencer


He’s the delicacies cugine.

Meet Danny Mondello, the Rossville, Staten Island, native behind the wildly standard TikTok account “Meals_by_cug.”

Cug is brief for cugine, which suggests “cousin” in Italian, however can also be a colloquial time period used to explain an Italian-American.

“When I made this page, it was a persona. Cug isn’t Danny,” Mondello, 24, instructed The Post.

Mondello’s hyperbolic alter ego, which is distinctly outer-borough, has charmed a big swath of the web. He boasts 1.6 million TikTok followers and almost half one million on Instagram, all tuning in for his meals evaluations, which function Italian-American slang, swigs of Diet Coke, intelligent one-liners and raunchy sister jokes delivered in his deep voice that sounds prefer it’s been simmering in Sunday sauce for eight hours. (His accent, by the best way, may be very actual.)

Mondello visits native joints, reviewing grub you possibly can eat together with your arms, like pizza and sandwiches, and concludes each video together with his grandpa-esque catchphrase, “Take care, brush ya hair.” He charges the meals on his “madone” scale.

Mondello is about to chow down on the godfather sandwich from Anthony and Sons
Danny Mondello is about to chow down on the Godfather sandwich from Anthony & Son.
Brian Zak/NY Post

And together with his unassuming persona, he’s standing out among the many throngs of self-styled meals influencers which have change into ubiquitous. Scroll by TikTok or just stroll down the road in New York City, and also you’ll be visually assaulted by dudes yelling into the digital camera about mortadella on a roll, like Sam Kinison on a bender.

In different phrases, his power is extra Ray Romano, much less Guy Fieri.

“I am definitely a little different. I’m a down-to-earth, chill guy, and I don’t show off. I’m wearing plain-Jane clothes, no jewelry. My look and my accent are different. My accent doesn’t match what I look like,” he mentioned of his attract, including that he has makes use of “old-school charm in a new way. Also, I’m not screaming at the camera. I think people like that. I’m not a wack job.”

Mondello wasn’t chasing web fame. While incomes an accounting diploma at SUNY New Paltz, he moved off campus with two roommates in 2017, and his mom made a proposal. “My mother was like, ‘You want to go out and eat, you are going to pay for it. But if you go to the grocery store and cook, I will pay.’ What am I? An idiot?’ ”

The Staten Island native's hyperbolic alter ego, which is distinctly outer-borough, has charmed a large swath of the internet.
The Staten Island native’s hyperbolic alter ego, which is distinctly outer-borough, has charmed a big swath of the web.
Brian Zak/NY Post

He turned the home chef, and to entertain his associates, Mondello chronicled his meal prep, displaying solely the meals, not his face. After commencement, he landed an accounting job, however after 5 days, he give up.

“There was no action. No one was talking,” he mentioned.

He turned a line prepare dinner at a restaurant in New Paltz and continued creating content material for a couple of hundred followers as a interest. But in July of final 12 months, whereas visiting Rossi and Sons Rossi Rosticceria in Poughkeepsie, he stepped in entrance of the lens and reviewed a roast beef sandwich, noting within the TikTok video: “You’ll get probably heart disease by 26, but it’s worth it.” The publish racked up 440,000 views.

“I don’t know why I did it, but I was talking like a gavone, and people liked it. So I ran with it,” he mentioned. His on-line following swelled, and in September, he ventured to the Feast of San Gennaro, the place he was repeatedly stopped by excited pageant goers who acknowledged him. That journey down Mulberry Street led to an epiphany: “I said, ‘I got something here.’ I went home and put in my two weeks at my job.”

In November, Nicolas Heller, a ok a the artistic behind the favored account New York Nico, began usually that includes Mondello, which helped balloon his visibility on Instagram.

“Before that, I was small potatoes on Instagram,” quipped Mondello.

Now he’s usually approached by followers. Online, he’s adopted by celebrities together with Drake, comic Andrew Schulz and singer Charlie Puth, to call a couple of. Two weeks in the past, he met comic Sebastian Maniscalco at an occasion on Long Island. “He known as me out. Said, ‘Cug, how are ya?’ “

Mondello has 1.6 million followers for his TikTok account @meals_by_cug.
Mondello has 1.6 million followers for his TikTok account @meals_by_cug.
Brian Zak/NY Post

And the one Mondello mentioned ladies usually drop into his DMs, typically making sister jokes. Still, the self-described “gentleman” mentioned, “I don’t know if I’d date a girl who slid into my DMs.”

In January, he moved again to Staten Island and is incomes money by sponsorships, merch and making movies on the positioning Cameo. In a month, he might be unveiling a meals product, which is a collaboration with one other influencer. But he’s making an attempt to remain as contemporary because the mozzarella at Royal Crown bakery, his favourite sandwich spot in Staten Island.

“I can’t do this forever. In 20 years, I am not going to be eating sandwiches in front of a camera. I have to find something else to do,” he mentioned, including that he’s taking a discerning method to diversifying, whereas stopping to odor the braciola.

“This all happened so quick, I haven’t had a chance take it all in.”

Here, Cug shouts out the purveyors of his favourite New York grub:

Cannolis

Mondello said the cannoli at Villabate Alba is delicious
Mondello mentioned the cannoli at Villabate Alba is scrumptious.

For pastries, Mondello favors Villabate Alba, an “old school” Bensonhurst bakery. Their cannolis are contemporary, he mentioned, including, “I think their ricotta cheese is sick. I don’t know what the hell they f – – king do to it. I’m speechless. The presentation is also very nice.”

7001 18th Ave., Brooklyn; 718-331-8430

Pizza

Mondello favors the white pie at Denino's because it has onions
Mondello favors the white pie at Denino’s as a result of it has onions.
Courtesy of Denino’s

When it involves pie, Cug goes together with his intestine and his childhood recollections. “It’s a nostalgia thing for me. I like the white pie at Denino’s,” he mentioned of the Staten Island staple. “They throw onions on it, and I like onions, so I stick with it.”

524 Port Richmond Ave., Staten Island; 718-442-9401

Sandwich

In his house borough, he builds his personal sandwich at Royal Crown bakery. But in Brooklyn, he’s hitting up Anthony and Son in Williamsburg. “Their sandwiches are well built and creative . . . And it’s always lively in there.” His choose? The Godfather with prosciutto, capocollo, sopressata, salami, pepperoni, mortadella, contemporary mozzarella, arugula and balsamic French dressing.

433 Graham Ave., Brooklyn; 718-383-7395

Bagel

“I like a sesame bagel, and they put seeds on the top and bottom. It’s my neighborhood spot,” he mentioned of Pio Hot Bagels.

655 Rossville Ave., Staten Island; 718-605-6100

Pasta

The moneybag pasta from Patrizia's is Mondello's go to.
The fioretti alla boscaiola, a ok a “the money bags” pasta, from Patrizia’s is Mondello’s go-to.

“I love the money bags pasta at Patrizia’s. I have no idea what they put in the sauce, but it’s phenomenal,” he mentioned of the stuffed pasta in a mushroom-and-prosciutto cream sauce often known as fioretti alla boscaiola.

4255 Amboy Road, Staten Island; 718-317-6600





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