New owners of Jolli Mons Grill — Danny Falcone, a New York Italian, and Winsil Falcone, his Filipino wife — may have very different favorite fare, but one thing they both agree on is fresh, homemade food.
Like Jolli menu items wontons and wild berries, you might question the Falcones as a perfect pairing, but Winsil, with her bright smile and Pacific breeze hinted accent, matches his bravado with her own special charm.
The couple met almost a decade ago while Falcone was on vacation in the Philippines. It was love at first sight, but it would take almost two years to convince U.S. Immigrations that they intended to marry.
Once Winsil Falcone was in the United States, they wed and she began working at Falcone’s self-named Oklahoma City chain of Italian delis.
Working was a crash course in American culture. “I had to learn all of the deli meats, and Italian cheeses. The meat is very different than in the Philippines. Plus, I had to learn all the money. I was horrible at making change. I didn’t know which coin was which,” she says “I started out only working one hour day, not 24 hours a day like we do now,” she says laughing.
After six years of marriage and Italian restaurants, the Falcones were ready to integrate their two cultures into a more unique style restaurant. They left Oklahoma City in August and moved to Florida. They bought Jolli Mons Grill, located on the Pinellas Trail, on Nov. 5 and they had their grand opening in the middle of December.
You won’t find frozen meat, fish or even a pre-cut French fry in their kitchen. Every order of onion rings is fresh cut, same with the fried mozzarella. Winsil Falcone hand rolls the spring rolls, and she makes every sauce.
While they kept Jolli Mon’s laid back atmosphere, ample outdoor seating and nightly music, they changed the menu to reflect their unique blend of cuisines, like bacon-infused gourmet hamburgers and Caribbean Poppers, which are wontons filled with pepper-laced cream cheese and then fried to a golden brown and served with spicy wild berry sauce.
“Besides the menu, the biggest changes we made were adding indoor seating, expanding happy hour, and being open on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. for brunch,” Danny Falcone says.
You can’t meet Danny Falcone and not assume he’s from the Bronx: he’s got the look, the lingo and he’s the type of guy that you want to (but you’re afraid to) ask if he was a Soprano’s fan. (The menu snitches with the Bada-Bing burger, topped with jalapenos and spicy hot onions.)
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