New Mochi Donut Shop is Hangout for Kids, Bar + Restaurant For Adults. THEY’VE ALSO GOT ROBOT WAITERS.

Mochi Dolci

Outside of Mochi Dolci, open for boba and mochi donuts. Photo: Lee Uehara

If it’s up to Upper West Siders Aoommie Cutone and Leo Cutone, their new dessert shop — Mochi Dolci, located at 222 West 79th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam) — will be the new Peach Pit during after-school hours for students.


“There are no places for kids to hang out after school unless it’s the corner or on the street,” Mrs. Cutone said, referring to their middle and high school-aged kids. “That’s one of the main reasons we opened this mochi donut and boba shop: To have a safe space for our children to hang out after school—and for all children in the neighborhood.”

mochi dolci west 79th street

Mochi Dolci will be a place where students can come after school. Photo: Leo Cutone

Mochi Dolci will offer gastronomy’s latest trend, mochi donuts, and the Asian drink staple known around the world, boba, or bubble tea, which contains chewy tapioca pearls and causes glee in children of all ages. Leo, who is part Italian, and Aoommie, who is from Thailand, say they also got the idea to open a shop from driving around several times a week to get boba for their kids.

Leo Cutone Leo Mochi Dolci

Co-owner, Leo Cutone, standing in front of decor in the front half of the store, where he says he is preparing for students to buy snacks and hang out. Photo: Lee Uehara

“We saw this store empty, and around here there is no boba and there are no mochi donuts. People tasted ours and they said they’re so great, and there is no dessert place around here,” Parinyarat “Aoommie” Cutone, a family and children’s photographer, said. “Like, we adults have coffee shops, we take our notebook and go to Starbuck’s, but children don’t have a place to hang out unless it’s a friend’s house.”


The ground floor restaurant and dessert bar is a floor-through, and will host students in the front area’s whimsical, pink and garden green décor. It will transform into a kiddie night-club with neon lights on the ceiling which will pulsate to music at dusk, while the back will offer a full bar and restaurant for parents and adults. The shop is modeled after a Korean gastropub, with neon lights and Asian fusion furniture and fare, said Leo, who became quite animated when talking about their plans for the remainder of the space’s renovation. The restaurant should be finished in about a week.

Neon lights will blink in tune with music in the children’s section. Photo: Lee Uehara

“It’s going to be a speakeasy in the back,” Leo, an engineer, said. “There will be a telephone booth with a special code to get in.”

READ MORE: Rosetta Bakery Opens Doors

He even purchased a robot he’s named Eugenia which will serve customers. “She works every day, and she’s going to show up—not like this younger generation who calls out whenever they feel like it,” adding, “We may have to get three or four of these if it works out.” The robot looks like this.


With his background in running an engineering firm, Leo seems to have thought of everything: “We have installed an energy-efficient system called clean heat and air-conditioning, or Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF).” He installed a digital kiosk for ordering ahead, ordered a ramen-making machine with robotic arms, and says they’ll soon install solar panels and that the place will be as carbon-neutral as possible. “We’re going to have energy-efficient donuts,” Leo said, laughing.

While business is open for boba and donuts, the full menu awaits a counter bar stuck at a shipping dock and a yet-to-be-hired chef with Korean fusion experience.

READ MORE: New Restaurants Replacing Saffron and Blockheads

“People have been coming in here and there to buy boba and our mochi donuts,” Aoommie said. “Strawberry, Matcha, and Taro are popular flavors.” They sell hundreds daily despite not being full-service yet.

Mochi Dolci replaces Greek restaurant Kefi. Prices for boba range from $3 to $7 plus tax, and food items such as Korean hot dogs and Thai-style chicken wings will cost $5 to $9 plus tax to ensure affordability among students. There will be classes for kids, birthday parties, and “make your own mochi donut” workshops, Aoommie said.

One resident, Bob Lamm, happened to stop by on Thursday for a small strawberry boba. When asked how he felt about the shop’s opening, he said. “It’s exciting.” And when pressed to explain, in true New Yorker fashion, he said “Whaddya want, I said I’m excited.”

mochi dolci upper west side

Bob Lamm, Upper West Sider, with a strawberry boba. Photo: Lee Uehara

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  1. Lifelong Upper Westsider September 23, 2022

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