Josh Cohen, Rocco Mangel Discuss Food, Fatherhood And Inspiration Over Cocktails At Rocco's Tacos

by Josh Cohen Dec 2015 Also on Digital Edition

Writer Josh Cohen shares a cocktail with Rocco's Tacos co-owner Rocco Mangel, who opens up about his childhood, fatherhood and his love for a certain pizza. 

WHO: Restaurateur, tequila expert, master expert catador and Rocco's Tacos co-owner Rocco Mangel

WHAT: The Special Edition Maestro Dobel Black Diamond Margarita paired with the famous table-side fresh guacamole; the ceviche del dia—fresh marinated ahi tuna, lime, onion, tomato, cilantro, avocado and peppers; the chile rellenos—battered and fried poblano chilies stuffed with Chihuahua and goat cheese, topped with salsa roja, lime crema and cotija cheese; and the carne asada—grilled skirt steak soft tacos on handmade gluten-free corn tortillas.

WHERE: Rocco's Tacos, 224 Clematis St., West Palm Beach / 561.650.1001 / roccostacos.com

1) When I was a kid growing up, I always thought I would wind up: in the limelight somehow. I didn't really know what I would do; I was all over the map. Before the age of 13, I thought I'd be an astronaut. Then, in high school I was the class clown and I always worked in restaurants. I came to the conclusion that restaurants were what I knew best. I had earned a restaurant education.

2) Something most people might not realize about Rocco's Tacos is that: I started here as a busboy. I actually worked here for two years from 1997 to 1999. I was the busboy making $60 a night in the restaurant I would [end] up buying. And as for our new Rocco's Tacos location in Delray, I was actually a waiter there when it was the restaurant Sopra.

3) When Kelly Ripa talked about me on national television in 2009 during “Live with Regis & Kelly,” I: didn't realize the impact it would have until the aftermath. My mother called me to tell me about it. It was a whirlwind, and it put me on the map instantly.

4) Having a grandfather who once ran the famous Copacabana in New York City means: I inherited the traits of hospitality, and of personality. I was too young to experience The Copa for myself like everyone else did, but I heard all the stories. My grandfather was in the nightclub business, and I learned a lot from that.

5) Becoming a father for the first time in 2013 with my daughter Charley was: scary for me. I came from a broken home. Nobody teaches you how to be a father. It is the most amazing journey that I've ever been on. I learn something new every day. I've already done most everything I wanted to do in my life, but one of the things I'd never done is be HER father.

6) When it comes to food, I'll admit I have a guilty pleasure when it comes to: the “Grandma” pizza at Sal's Express on Donald Ross Road in Jupiter. It takes me back to New York. It's just one of those authentic pizzerias. Plus, I'm on a diet right now so I crave bread all the time.

A native New Yorker, Rocco Mangel relocated to West Palm Beach with $200 in his pocket on Labor Day in 1997. With a total of seven locations, Mangel and his partners were especially proud to expand the Rocco's Tacos empire to Brooklyn in November 2014. The creator of three unique tequila blends—Milagro, Herradura and Maestro Dobel Diamante—Mangel was certified as an expert master catador in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2013. Among the numerous charitable organizations to which he donates his time and talents are JDRF, the ALS Association and The Paradise Fund. Mangel is the father to daughter Charley and the owner of two Rhodesian ridgeback dogs.

A native New Yorker, Rocco Mangel relocated to West Palm Beach with $200 in his pocket on Labor Day in 1997. With a total of seven locations, Mangel and his partners were especially proud to expand the Rocco's Tacos empire to Brooklyn in November 2014. The creator of three unique tequila blends—Milagro, Herradura and Maestro Dobel Diamante—Mangel was certified as an expert master catador in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2013. Among the numerous charitable organizations to which he donates his time and talents are JDRF, the ALS Association and The Paradise Fund. Mangel is the father to daughter Charley and the owner of two Rhodesian ridgeback dogs.

WHAT THEY DRANK:

Special Edition Maestro Dobel Black Diamond Margarita

2 oz. Maestro Dobel Diamante

1 oz. black cherry purée

1/2 oz. simple syrup

2 oz. fresh lime juice

Shaken with ice, served in highball, rimmed with black sea salt.