Actor Erika Longo has been traveling to NYC since she was young, and a visit to a Broadway musical at age five set her on the road to show business. The Hell’s Kitchen resident feels right at home in the neighborhood — and has even appeared in Law & Order: SVU! This is Erika’s West Side Story.
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I am originally from Wayne, NJ — which is just a hop, skip and a jump from Manhattan, and my love affair with New York started when I was very young! My parents would often take my brother and I into the city with family to celebrate certain holidays like Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. It became tradition that we’d find ourselves at Patrissy’s, a wonderful Italian restaurant in Little Italy that used to be on Kenmare Street. What really stole my heart though was Broadway. It inspired my love for everything performing arts and made me super passionate about acting. My first show was Beauty and the Beast when I was five years old and the rest is history! I’ve now lived in Hell’s Kitchen officially for about four years but have been commuting and hanging around the neighborhood for probably about 10 years or so.
What was your first job? What do you do now?
My first job was working at a Carvel when I was 14! I used to get so anxious about messing up people’s order. Now I am an actor here in the city. I trained at T Schreiber Studio in Chelsea and studied with several teachers around the city and in LA. In 2020 just before the pandemic, I was fortunate enough to co-produce and act in a short film that I wrote called Lina. It is in memoriam to my Nonna. I’m very proud of it.
Some of my recent TV credits include Law & Order: SVU, The Endgame, FBI: Most Wanted, Harlan Coben’s Shelter and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I also run my own small business here in Hell’s Kitchen called Midtown Self Tapes. I help other actors with their audition tapes and also provide coaching to children and adult performers when needed. I absolutely love that it keeps me creative and active while I’m not on set myself — and I get to meet so many talented artists!
What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
Oh gosh! I’m sure there have been a bunch of standout NYC moments! One that jumps out is from several years back. My friend and I were walking down 10th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen when suddenly we had to stop because there was a TV crew filming Law & Order: SVU across the street. I always loved the show and admired the work of the cast and crew so I was definitely excited. We observed for a couple of minutes and then kept on walking. That moment has kind of come full circle for me, because as an actor working in this city I have been lucky enough to be on the show myself recently — which is definitely a rite of passage for any NY actor!
Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
I love Hell’s Kitchen because it has a little bit of everything! There are so many awesome restaurants in this neighborhood. You can find just about any kind of cuisine you’d like. Also, we are pretty central to many of the subway lines and that is a huge win! But most of all I love that Hell’s Kitchen is just about theater and Broadway central. There are so many shows in walking distance and right around the corner, so you don’t have to go far if you want an evening out on the town to see your favorite play.
What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
I’m not 100% sure if this is a superpower exactly but I love people and meeting new people! Love getting to know people’s stories and backgrounds and sharing experiences. I guess I picked a good industry to be in, because I am constantly meeting and working with new people on every job I get.
What else should we know about you?
I am a HUGE animal lover and will say hello to every cute dog or cat in a stroller that I see, and cat videos have pretty much taken up 80% of my Instagram stories. I have a wonderfully supportive family and two nieces who I love like crazy, and a little nephew on the way very soon!
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Erika’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places
Bird & Branch — 359 W45th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
Bird and Branch has the best Matcha out there! They are unique in that their coffee and drink selections are not the typical choices you’d see at various coffee shops. They add a special flair to each of their beverages and when the weather is nice their outside benches are really cute to sit at and enjoy the breeze!
Schmackary’s — 362 W45th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
If you like cookies or just need something sweet as a pick me up, you need to visit Schmackary’s. They have the best cookies in town! And the flavor options are endless! My favorites are the cornbread cookie, funfetti and chocolate chip cookie dough.
Norma — 801 9th Avenue (bw W53/54th St)
My parents and I discovered Norma after searching for new Italian restaurants in the ‘hood. Their food is the best and AUTHENTIC! Delicious Sicilian dishes and the staff is awesome.
Pier 84 — 555 12th Avenue
On a nice day, especially in the summer I love walking over to the water by the Pier and grabbing a coffee on the way to get some fresh air and a nice breeze with some beautiful views.
UT47 — 358 W47th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
UT47 is a really cute spot for fun coffee-based drinks or tea. They are also vegan and GF-friendly and their packaging is so fun! My favorite is that they make each drink in your own custom can.
Sullivan St Bakery — 533 W47th Street (bw 10th/11th Ave)
It’s great if you need a midday caffeine boost or a pizza/flatbread. Their zucchini is my favorite and their lentil soup is delicious too. Bonus is there are usually lots of dog walkers strolling by if you love furry friends!
Target — 615 10th Avenue (bw W44/45th St)
Let’s be real, the Hell’s Kitchen Target has been kind of a lifesaver! I am constantly running to Target for something whether it’s food, cleaning supplies or just about anything really!
Sometimes when I want some nice fresh air but don’t want to be in all the hustle and bustle, I’ll take a cup of tea up to my roof and just hang out for a little while.
You can follow Erika on Instagram @erikkalongo. If you know someone who would make a great West Side Story (or you would like to nominate yourself) please fill in this form — w42st.info/WSSnominations
You can check out more West Side Stories and reader recommendations on W42ST’s Hell’s Kitchen Local App.