Roni Mazumdar

Roni Mazumdar, with partner Chef Chintan Pandya, is the innovative restaurateur behind Unapologetic Foods which owns and operates Adda Indian Canteen, Dhamaka, Semma, Rowdy Rooster, Masalawala & Sons, Naks and soon to come Kebabwala. These restaurants and food brands have set the New York City scene on fire.

Since opening the original Masalawala (2011-2021) with his father Satyen, Roni has been exploring the foods of his youth, sharing lesser-known dishes from remote areas of India with New Yorkers. His follow up to Masalawala was Rahi (2017-2021) which attracted the attention of national and local media for serving innovative interpretations of Indian cuisine and was heralded by The New York Times restaurant reviewer Pete Wells. Adda Indian Canteen, which focuses on local and regional Indian dishes, followed in 2018 and quickly gained praise from major publications including Mr. Wells again by receiving a radiant two-star review. That year Adda was a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award for “Best New Restaurant,” and named in Food & Wine Magazine’s Ten Best New Restaurants, Eater’s National Best New Restaurants” and Bon Appetit Top 50 Best New Restaurants of 2019.

In 2019, Roni and Chef Chintan partnered with artist Mattia Casalegno in Aerobanquets RMX, a virtual reality
experience combining food and fantasy, which was held at the James Beard House. As the world entered the 2020 pandemic Roni was able to provide more than 125,000 meals for frontline workers and those in need by partnering with organizations such as Rethink Foods, Urban Pathways, Off Their Plate, and others — all while keeping delivery and takeout open at his restaurants.

In 2021 he and Chef Pandya opened Dhamaka, a restaurant serving food from “the forgotten side of India.” Dhamaka has been met with worldwide acclaim for its unapologetic approach to Indian cuisine that offers diners a glimpse into the home kitchens of people from the villages of India. The New York Times, and Esquire chose Dhamaka as the #1 restaurant of 2021, Time Out named Dhamaka as one of the “21 Best New Restaurants in the World Right Now”, and The New York Times touted it as one of the 50 best restaurants in the Country. In addition, Dhamaka was nominated for James Beard Foundation Awards: “Best New Restaurant of 2021”, this is the first time in James Beard award history that an Indian restaurant has been nominated in this category, and Chintan Pandya won as “Best Chef New York State”. Later in 2021 he took a bold step by morphing the successful Rahi into Semma, a restaurant bringing Southern Indian cuisine to the forefront showcasing the heritage cooking of Chef Vijay Kumar. The change paid off as Semma was met with critical acclaim by restaurant reviewers and food enthusiasts. The restaurant was named in Bon Appetit’s Top Ten New Restaurants of 2022, The New York Times Top Ten Restaurants of 2022, and earned a Michelin star.

Furthermore, in 2022 Roni and team opened the fast casual Rowdy Rooster serving Indian Fried Chicken, touting
India’s history of frying the bird Americans love. This resulted in another rave review from The New York Times, and inclusion in their Top Ten Inexpensive Restaurants of the Year list. Food & Wine Magazine also named the pair as one of 16 people and companies changing the way we eat and drink in 2022. In addition, that year Masalawala & Sons located in Park Slope, Brooklyn opened. Masalawala & Sons is an homage to the foods of Kolkata, and dishes encountered by Satyen Mazumdar as he traveled through India. The restaurant was awarded two-stars form The New York Times restaurant reviewer Pete Wells, giving the group its sixth review in six years. They will soon open Kebabwala celebrating India’s long tradition of fresh, and flavorful kebabs.

Roni is an active voice in speaking out on behalf and the future of the hard-hit restaurant industry and is on the board of the New York State Restaurant Association. In addition to numerous interviews, Eater named Roni and Chintan as part of their New Guards of New York Dining, which explored the state of power and influence in the New York City dining scene. Crain’s New York Business honored him with placement on their prestigious 40 Under 40 Class of 2020 list, Bloomberg BusinessWeek named him and Chef Pandya as one of the People that Defined Global Business in 2021, and in 2023 they were #3 on the Observer’s Dining and Nightlife Power List.

Roni’s philosophy of business is continually met with a mind for philanthropy and community. He’s involved with Accion, one of the leading global nonprofits; and contributed a dish to Leyla Moushabeck’s The Immigrant Cookbook. Roni is part of City Harvest’s Food Council helping spread awareness of the organization’s mission of raising funds in donating high quality food to help feed hungry New Yorkers, and No Kid Hungry whose mission is to end childhood hunger.