Influencer/foodie Keith Lee may not want to be the next Dave Portnoy, but the MMA fighter’s TikTok reviews pack a similar punch. When he gives a restaurant a glowing review, its business often soars overnight.

Just ask the owners of Bruckner Pizza in the Bronx.

In a recent food tour of New York’s food scene, Lee, who has more than 15.4 million followers on TikTok, accepted an invitation to the Bronx from fellow TikTok content creator Paulie Mars. She urged him to try the borough’s unique food, including the Black-owned Bruckner Pizza. “Given that many businesses and people in the Bronx are facing displacement, this could be life-changing,” Mars said in her video pitch to Lee. “Everyone talks about New York-style pizza, but have you heard of Dominican pizza?”

Lee tried it—and he liked it.

As he always does in his pizzeria reviews, Lee, 27, ordered a cheese slice and a slice of the pizzeria’s most popular pie—in this case, the Pernil, featuring a slow-roasted, marinated pork that’s popular in Latin American cuisine. He also sprung for a pepperoni slice “because,” he said, “I like pepperoni.” He called the pepperoni slice a “classic” and gave it a 7.5 score.

But the Pernil pizza really blew him away. “I’ve had pernil before because my sister is Dominican,” he noted, “so I have really high hopes for this.”

After a bite or two, he added, “That is delicious. That meat is tender, it’s seasoned, and it’s juicy.” Apparently referring to the marinade used for the pernil, he said, “I don’t know what kind of sauce it is…The sauce is kind of tangy, but it balances really well with the pizza sauce.”

He added, “I get it. I see why y’all told me to come to the Bronx. Nine out of 10. That’s the highest pizza rating I’ve given since I’ve been here. That’s the best pizza I’ve had since I’ve been here.”

He had similar praise for the next item, pronouncing it “the best cheese slice I’ve had since I’ve been on here. It’s classic, but it’s not just salty—it’s actually like cheese flavor. And the sauce—I can tell it’s homemade.” He gave it an 8.5 out of 10.

That TikTok post wasn’t even Lee’s highest performer. It has received 1.8 million views since it went up, compared to 6.9 million views for his previous video spotlighting Tamarind Island, a Caribbean restaurant in Queens.

Yet the review, once it dropped on TikTok, still sent crowds flocking to the family-owned Bruckner Pizza, and Bronx News 12 sent a team to check it out the next morning. The reporter found the New York-style restaurant already dealing with a huge rush. Employees were trying to crank out 50 pies, more than double their highest-ever Friday-morning output, they said.

“Since he came on Monday night, everything has changed,” said co-owner Oscar Amaro. “The Keith Lee Effect is real!”

Oscar’s son, Adan Amaro, is Bruckner Pizza’s other co-owner. “We noticed we were on [Lee’s TikTok channel],” he told Bronx News 12. “They sent it to me, they sent it to my dad, they sent it to my uncle. They sent it to everybody. And after that, [business] just picked up—calling, ordering, new people, more people, more customers. It’s crazy.”

In addition to the Pernil Pizza, Bruckner Pizza also serves Dominican-influenced pies like the Yaroa, topped with chicken, French fries, two cheeses, Dominican ketchup and mayo, and the Chimy, featuring ground beef, cabbage, tomatoes and a special secret sauce.

Lee gained nationwide attention as a food reviewer when he paid a visit in January 2023 to the struggling Frankensons Pizzeria in Las Vegas and rated it a 9.8. That TikTok video drew more than 30.6 million views. More importantly, it sent Frankensons’ business through the roof at a time when it was in danger of closing—today, that pizzeria is thriving, even though it could barely make rent prior to Lee’s review.

As The Root reported, Lee’s restaurant tour of New York wasn’t short on controversy. He wasn’t wowed by the city’s famous chopped cheese sandwich, which prompted a bit of a backlash from insulted New Yorkers. It probably didn’t help that Lee gave solid, but not glowing, reviews to several other Big Apple pizzerias he tried, including Prince Street Pizza, Bleecker Street Pizza and Joe’s Pizza. Of those three locally beloved joints, he gave Prince Street Pizza the highest score at 7.7.

But that’s just the world we’re living in. It’s safe to say Oscar and Adan Amaro have no complaints.

Pizza News