North Texas Daily

Denton brothers hope to extend family ties through new restaurant

Denton brothers hope to extend family ties through new restaurant

Denton brothers hope to extend family ties through new restaurant
January 26
12:00 2023

Only a few parking spaces remain around the corner of South Elm Street and Maple Street as customers flock inside for dinner at the newly opened Picone.

The Italian-American restaurant held its soft opening last weekend on Jan. 20 and 21.

“I’m lucky enough to have people come and try my food, and […]love making people happy through that,” said Tony Neglia, cook and owner of Picone.

Chef Tony Neglia prepares food to be served to customers at the Picone soft opening on Jan. 20, 2023. Photo by Marco Barrera

Tony worked as the cook at Boca 31 since 2019, where he became known for the daily specials he started during the pandemic to
increase business. As he became more well-known through Boca 31 and social media, Tony was encouraged to start his own business.

He started a pop-up shop, Bacciagalupe’s, in 2020, which gave him more creative leeway in his menu’s selection, like baked ziti and burgers, whenever he wanted. During this time, he also built up an Instagram presence under the username @CelebrityChefTony.

Tony continues to use the account to promote himself and the food he makes. While he was not actively searching out a space for
his own brick-and-mortar restaurant, the idea remained at the back of his mind.

In September 2022, an old restaurant regular of Tony’s called him and asked if he knew of anyone who may be interested in the old Taqueria 3 Canales building, which was newly vacant. He wanted the space, and opening preparation began soon after.

Michael Neglia, Tony’s older brother and coworker, has had 15 years in the food industry helping restaurants operate. Tony said his experience includes administrative duties like food preparation and ordering supplies and ingredients.

When Tony decided to move forward with opening Picone, the brothers decided to use their respective strengths and work together to operate the restaurant.

“It was a really natural thing, the two of us coming together to work on [Picone],” Michael said. “Tony did most of the legwork on the restaurant — I just kind of jumped over when it was time to go.”

Tony inherited his love of cooking from his mom and grandfather, who carry the last name Picone — his inspiration for the restaurant. Both brothers have childhood memories of spending time with their grandfather Phil in New Jersey, where he handmade pizza dough and distributed it to restaurants.

“Tony’s been doing restaurant chef work forever, so I know he has a passion for this,” Michael said. “Even when we were kids, I remember him helping our mom out in the kitchen with cooking and stuff, so it’s just always been something he’s had a passion for.”

Tony said Picone serves as an homage to his family, from the name itself to the food he serves. His Sunday Sauce comes from the Sunday dinners his mom would make when he was growing up.

A plate of chicken parmesan is served to a customer at the Picone soft opening on Jan. 20, 2023. Photo by Marco Barrera

He wants customers to feel a familial atmosphere when they come to eat at Picone – something he tested during the restaurant’s soft opening. Many of the soft opening customers were either Tony’s personal friends or knew him from his previous restaurant work.

Eddie McNamara and Kasey Wallace, Denton residents and friends of Tony, were among some of the first customers to eat at Picone’s soft opening. The two said they were excited to try food from the restaurant for the first time.

“I’ve never had any of Tony’s food before, but I know it’s going to be fire,” Wallace said.

For now, Picone will be open Thursdays through Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m., with plans to eventually extend days and hours of operation. In the future, Tony also aims to host guest chefs once or twice a month.

He also intends to hold Sunday dinners, which will be served family-style, similar to his mom’s Sunday dinners.

“I just want people to walk in and feel welcome,” Tony said. “To me, it’s really corny, but that’s Denton. That’s what Denton feels like […] everyone’s welcome.”

Featured Image A soft opening at Picone’s takes place on Jan. 20, 2023. Photo by Marco Barrera

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Kaitlynn Hutchins

Kaitlynn Hutchins

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