With His Side Hustle Bread Pop-Up Shop in Farmingdale, Jim Serpico Has Pivoted From Television Producer to Artisanal Bread Maker

On Sunday mornings Jim Serpico sets up his Side Hustle Bread pop-up shop in a shared space at 850 Main Street in Farmingdale to sell his artisanal bread, focaccia sandwiches, and pizzas.

Side Hustle Bread started out as just that, a side hustle during the pandemic for Serpico to channel his creative energy with his wife and three sons while they quarantined at home. At the encouragement of his children Serpico started posting his bready creations on Instagram, then when the world opened back up, he sold his product at farmers markets across Long Island, and now he’s temporarily taken up space inside Forno Fritto, a new Italian market in Farmingdale specializing in fresh pasta, pizzas, and sauces to go, along with their Frito Bombs.

Serpico said this semi-brick-and-mortar situation for Side Hustle Bread was something he has been thinking about starting for a while now.

“I was interested in taking it to the next level,” he said. “But slowly. Then I heard about a spot that would allow me to have a consistent place for my bread customers.”

That first week, he sold out of bread before noon. He sold out of every item before the end of the day.

At the pop-up every Sunday, Serpico sells a number of his bread items including a sourdough bread, focaccia sandwiches, made on high hydration bread, and two types of pizza. One is a thin tavern style pizza and the other a roman style pizza.

“The tavern-style pizza was made famous in Chicago,” Serpico explained. “Its cracker thin and crispy and gets its unique flavor from cornmeal and barley crust.”

He sells a cheese version and pepperoni with hot honey.

The Roman-style pizza is the complete opposite,” he said. “It has a thicker crust, light and airy dough.”

He said the dough for the Roman style is difficult to work with because of its high hydration. It has to ferment for 48 hours before it’s baked into the two different versions that he sells at the pop-up, cheese and prosciutto with hot honey. For both styles Serpico serves slices and family sized pies.

Thin crust, tavern-style pizza made by Side Hustle Bread.

Raised in East Meadow, Serpico now lives with his wife Sherrie and sons James, Cole and Miles, in Plainview. But the born-and-bred Long Islander didn’t start out life as a bread maker. His day job, so to speak, is in comedy. He partnered with bad-boy comedian Denis Leary in the 1990s to launch a production company to promote stand-up comics and shows and he also co-produced the Emmy-nominated dramedy Rescue Me, which followed the lives of a company of New York City firefighters, starred Leary, and aired on FX from 2004 until 2011. Serpico hasn’t totally given up TV for bread. He said he just recently pitched a new show to ABC, a comedy series about high school outcasts.

The bread thing was a “learn-as-you-go” situation that took on a life of its own after he started posting to social media. But once he began to see some success the former manager of comedians started taking bread more seriously.

“We took a deep dive,” he said, even launching a podcast about bread called “Bread for the People.”

His first in-real-life attempt to sell bread was at the American Venice Market in Lindenhurst four years ago.

“From there we did Deep Roots in Glen Cove, the Cornell Cooperative East Meadow Farm, and Babylon Argyle Fair,” Serpico said.

A whole wheat sourdough bread by Side Hustle Bread.

He delivers bread on order once a month and he also has a mobile trailer that does private events. Everything can be found on his website at sidehustlebread.com.

The pop-up is a temporary situation and he might start up again at farmers markets in the summer but Serpico has his eye on the prize to one day find a permanent spot.

“That’s what the dream is,” Serpico said, then thought about it for a minute. “It’s certainly possible but you never know.”

In the meantime you can still catch Side Hustle Bread at 850 Main Street in Farmingdale every Sunday from 9am to 3pm.

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