When it comes to food, Luca Marconi is wise beyond his years.
The 12-year-old from Brooklyn, New York, is famous in the borough — and beyond — for his Instagram videos in which he critiques food like a seasoned pro. Luca credits his heritage for his uncanny culinary acumen.
"I'm from an Italian family," explained Luca, who is known to his tens of thousands of followers as Luca Two Times. Why "Two Times"? He just liked how it sounds. And when Luca really likes (or really dislikes) something, he's not afraid to make it known.
Besides his age, what really sets Luca apart from other food critics is his unique rating system. It's based on a scale of 100 to 1,000. But he doesn't always share that fact with the restaurants where he's reviewing dishes.
"I want to be nice," he said. "People love me because I'm always positive." His rationale is that if he gives a restaurant a 100, they'll thank him. But, in reality, that number is more like a 1 out of 10.
The Insta-famous critic rarely gives out 100s, though, and says most of his scores are in the 700-900 range. Recently, the carb lover (he says Sunday family dinners just aren't complete without a serving of pasta and bread) tried his first acai bowl. "It tastes just like a smoothie," noted Luca. "I would give this an 820. If it has fresh ingredients, I don't care what it is, it tastes good and it's healthy."
On Monday, Luca joined the TODAY anchors for a live review of burrata pizza from L'Industrie Pizzeria in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Fortunately for them, it's one of his favorite foods. If there was ever a dish, besides Nutella pizza, that was going to get his rare 1,000-thumbs up seal of approval, it might be this one.
So how did Luca come to be known as one of the most feared, and most beloved, kids in the Brooklyn food scene?
Years ago, a family friend noticed Luca's knack for critiquing food and, when he turned nine, his family started posting videos.
"This kid is talented," said Sabino Curcio, a family friend whom Luca calls his "momager." Curcio, who owns a deli in Brooklyn, chaperones Luca on trips throughout New York City for restaurant reviews. But Luca Two Times doesn't just limit his reviews to local joints.
Some of his most popular videos are reviews of airline food he conducted while traveling. "It doesn't look that appetizing, but we'll try it," Luca says while reviewing a chicken dish with a mysterious sauce on an American Airlines flight.
Looking to the near future, Luca hopes to reach 100,000 followers soon. Some of his videos have already racked up close to 100,000 views and he's even appeared on "Rachael Ray," where he invited the host (who has Sicilian roots) to Italy to try his Nonna's cooking. He says his mom is also a good cook, but her cuisine doesn't hold a candle to his grandma's. In the long term, Luca told the New York Post that his goal is to become a lawyer one day and give back to the community.
"He's very charismatic," said Curcio. "In a world where a lot of kids are doing what the crowd's doing, he's doing what he wants to do."