Brooklyn 11223? Fuhgeddaboudit!
Bensonhursts own Tony Muia is giving the world a real taste of Brooklyn with his new television show, A Slice of Brooklyn, based on his wildly successful bus tours.
Muia started giving tours of Brooklyns best pizza joints, such as Grimaldis and L& B Spumoni Gardens, back in 2005 after he quit his 20-year career in healthcare to follow his passion. Soon after, it was rated the #1 Brooklyn tour on TripAdvisor.com and Muia decided to expand his operation to give tours of the Dyker Heights Christmas lights as well.
But his big break came in late 2010, when his wife, Ronni, told her very good friend David Evangelista, a cast pilot in Manhattan, about the tour. He almost immediately got Muia connected with Terence Noonan, the producer of D.C. Cupcakes and Anderson Cooper.
He instantly loved the idea. He kept saying, Oh my God, I love it, tell me more! Muia recalled. He loved the whole David vs. Goliath aspect. We were a small company but grew. Our hearts are as big as our pride in this borough.
Before he knew it, Muia had his own show on the Travel Channel, which debuted on March 7. Its like a dream come true, he said.
Muia, who now lives in Bay Ridge and has a baby on the way, said the show chronicles his struggles against bigger businesses. I was afraid big corporations would blow me out of the water, he said. In the show, Muia points out that his tour buses dont have fancy logos on them like other companies do.
We want to be the prominent bus tour of Brooklyn, he explained. We go to Manhattan and pick up passengers as well, but we dont have the budget that those guys have.
Episodes follow Muia, his cousin Paula and his closest friends, or consiglieri — Uncle Louie, Fat Sal and Frankie Pancakes. No one may have been interested in Brooklyn a few years back, but now they are coming like vultures, Muia laments to his buddies on the show.
The show even owns the phrase, Manhattan? FUHGEDDABOUDIT.
We are real Brooklynites, not the moronic interpretation of Brooklyn thats shown on television lately, Muia said. We dont have women getting in catfights or moron youngsters at the shore. We are 40 to 50-year-old Italian-American Brooklynites who still shop on 18th Avenue.
The show also features lesser-known spots such as Tommasos. For the past seven years, I have been waving a flag for Brooklyn, acting like an ambassador, Muia said. Whats great about it now is that the show will elevate us to more people. I cant even put into words what this will do for us.
Viewers can catch a re-run of the first two episodes on Saturday, March 17 at 2 p.m.