Who Remembers…Burger Chef?

The first Burger Chef opened its doors in 1957

Here is another installment in our Who Remembers? series. You can browse previous articles by using the search bar on the right. These articles are strolls down memory lane. In some cases the buildings, but new businesses have replaced them. In other instances, the buildings or even the properties have been razed. Instead of a building, it may be a TV show, personality, or commercial that no one longer exists. Either way, it can’t stop us from taking the Memory Lane stroll!

As always we would rather this be a discussion. No one knows this area better than those who grew up here! Please, leave constructive criticism, feedback, and corrections. We’d love to hear your anecdotes. Please share!

Any waxing nostalgic of food related topics is always popular. It’s not difficult to recall these memories because typically we’ve had the experience hundreds of times and gustatory recollection involves multiple sensory experiences; sight, smell, and taste. Lend me the liberty and even count audio as an experience; the conversation had with family and friends, ordering inside or at the drive-thru speaker, and familiar crash of ice into your paper cup and the click-click of the fountain gun being engaged.

Food and restaurants serve as an exemplar mnemonic anchor, because of the many childhood experiences that revolve around them. Mention a “forgotten” place like Barbero’s, A&W, or Howdy’s Beefburgers or Royal Hamburgers is to immediately evoke specific memories. “Remember that time when we were at Barbero’s and…”

The first Burger Chef opened its doors in 1957

Burger Chef is no different!! If you grew up in New Bedford, you’ll recall the one on Mt. Pleasant Street that became Popeye’s. If you grew up in Dartmouth, you may recall the one on Route 6/State Road. Fairhaven’s was opened by George Staffopulous in 1970, who I believe was his second store. I don’t recall where this one was.

The very first Burger Chef was opened in 1957 in Indianapolis, Indiana by Frank and Donald Thomas who incidentally patented the Frame Boiler. At this time a Triple Treat which was an order of fries, a burger and a milkshake (Vanilla, Chocolate or Strawberry) were an incredible 15 cents each. The family could eat out for about a buck and a half! Imagine that?!

The concept spread like wildfire West and East and within a few short years you could get the Super Shef -a quarter-pounder with cheese, lettuce tomato, onions and pickles with ketchup- or their signature double-burger called the Big Shef all advertised by mascots Burger Chef and Jeff, just about anywhere. Later they added the Top Shef, a 1/3 pound of beef, topped with bacon and cheese. You could also have your order “with” or “without” which meant that the servers could dress your burger or you could do it yourself at the “Works Bar.” In 1964 they debuted the Fish Sandwich and their first dessert item, the Apple Turnover.

Within a year Frank and Donald Thomas had opened seven additional Burger Chefs. As impressive and quick as that was, it wasn’t as impressive as the number of restaurant openings that followed: 100 by 1960, 250 by 1963, 500 by 1965 and their 1000th store opened in 1969.

When the 70s rolled around you could get the precursor to the Happy Meal, the Funmeal Platter or Fun Meal, which would include puzzles and stories about Burger Chef Chef and/or his sidekicks, the Fangmily: vampire Count Fangburger, Burgerini, Cackleburger the witch, and the talking ape Burgerilla. I can’t recall whether the little records, plastic frisbees, or fun money came with the Fun Meal or had to be bought separately. Do you?

“Hard to believe prices” is an understatement!

For adults they had a few different types of platters: the Mariner Platter had two batter dipped fish fillets, fries and salad, the Rancher Platter was a 1/3 pound of beef, Texas Toast, fries and salad.

In 1968 General Foods bought it, but couldn’t keep up with its expansion and it was bought in 1982 by Hardee’s owners Imasco. They converted many of the Burger Chef’s into more Hardee’s. I believe, the last Burger Chef in the nation closed its doors in 1996. Want to relive the experience and have a Big Shef? You still can in Danville, Illinois, where a converted Burger hef that is now Schroeder’s Drive-In serves burger chef burgers and even has a works bar.

What were YOUR fondest memories of Burger Chef? Do you have any collectibles?

Slogans (Wikipedia):

  • Early 1980s – “Nowhere else but Burger Chef”
  • Late 1970s – “We really give you the works.”
  • Mid 1970s – early 1980s – “You get more to like at Burger Chef.”</span>
  • 1970s – “There’s more to like at Burger Chef” and “Burger Chef goes all out to please your family”
  • Early 1970s – “We’ll always treat you right”

Short Commercial:

Commercial Montage:


Boston’s Wahlburgers, delivers free meals to thank first-responders and front-line heroes

“Wahlburgers, the Boston-area based restaurant owned by the Wahlberg brothers, stopped by District C-11 in Dorchester to drop off freshly-made meals while thanking Boston’s first responders for the ongoing efforts to keep everybody safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Officers made sure to respect social distance protocols as they approached and retrieved food from the Wahlburgers food truck.

In addition to the officers at District C-11, Wahlburgers delivered meals to every district station in the city, as well as, every fire and EMS station in Boston. Said Commissioner Gross, “We appreciate Wahlburgers for stepping up to thank and support our officers during these difficult times.”

Said Chef Paul Wahlberg, “Being able to reach out to all the firefighters and the police officers and all the hospitals in Boston is amazing for us. We want to make sure that everybody knows that we’re here and the community is out to support them.”

All in all, Wahlburgers will prepare and deliver approximately 2,000 freshly made warm meals to first responders, hospital workers and other frontline heroes battling the COVID-19 pandemic here in Boston.” -Boston Police Department.

Boston Police Department photos:

Wahlburgers joins Massachusetts State Police for “Pink Patch Project” cause

Wahlburgers (Wahlburgers) partnered up with Hingham Police for a Pink Patch Project Event this past week. Trooper Dustin Fitch joined Hingham with Methuen Police Department and our pink cruisers for the event.

Great turnout for a great event for a great cause. Special thanks to Chef Paul Wahlberg for hosting the event and hanging out for some photos.

Also special thanks to Live Boston for taking great photos.”-Massachusetts State Police.

MasterChef looking for local cooks to cast in 11th season, holding casting call in Boston

MasterChef is casting for their season and are in the process of doing community outreach looking for amazing HOME COOKS!

We are on a nationwide search for talented amateur cooks from all types of backgrounds and with a range of cooking styles, to audition for Season 11. Whether you enjoy cooking delightful desserts or hefty main courses, whether you cook fine French cuisine or prefer a great tasting burger, we want to hear from you.

If cooking is your passion, you cannot miss out on this opportunity.

Now’s the time to turn in your desk job and follow your culinary dream – take this first step: fill in the application form, cook your favorite dish, and head down to an open casting call.

The deadline of receipt for application forms and video submissions is Saturday, October 12th at Midnight, 12:00am PST.

Interested? You can pre-register here.

What: Come to our casting call and bring an amazing dish!
How: Register here.
When: October 19, 2019 from 9:00am-4:00pm
Questions: WiseSageCasting@gmail.com

Foodie’s Guide to Regional Gastronomy: The Hamburger

Series Introduction (Move down if you’re familiar with the thread or don’t care)

In this series, we hope to highlight and showcase in as interesting a way as possible, the stories behind our favorite, mouth-watering local dishes. While we’ll focus on greater New Bedford and the South Coast, we will occasionally “travel” to places like Plymouth, Providence or even Boston. I will attempt to keep it light-hearted, fun, and easy to read. While I can’t promise to keep you compelled and pull you along with prose – that would take a professional writer – I will promise to be liberal with the drool-inducing images of these dishes.

I grew up in a Sicilian household where everyone – man, woman, child – was participating in preparing meals. It was a “trick” to get everyone together, talking, laughing and of course, the occasional heated debate. Food was a huge part of our identity, where we came from, who we were. There was something special about the atmosphere that revolved around a meal that we prepared.

This is certainly not unique to an Italian or Sicilian household. Every ethnic group in the country has a proud culinary tradition that they grew up around. You can easily replace “Sicilian” with Irish, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Ethiopian, Greek or anything else. This is why food as a topic is always so popular. We humans love our food and that passion goes beyond the gustatory or taste – we crave the aromas, delight in the presentation, are fueled by the atmosphere, and relish – pardon the pun – discussion about our favorite dishes, restaurants or cuisines.

One thing that is often not discussed – is glossed over, or barely touched upon – is the history or background of these dishes. Now, to some, this conjures up the voice of the guy from the “dry eyes” commercial. The terms, for many, are synonymous with “boring,” “dull,” or “It’s time to go.” However, the background can be interesting, fun, or funny and it can be so without being facetious, dumbed-down or popular. I will make every attempt to maintain a fresh balance with those elements in this series.

As always, feedback is encouraged. Anecdotes are wanted. Discussion is paramount. Please join in.


Ah, the hamburger, the dish with a million faces. It can be humble or grandiose, basic or extravagant, affordable or one with which you might need to leverage your house to get a small loan. It can have next to nothing on it or more other ingredients than the burger itself weighs. Either way, America and the world has a love affair with the hamburger and it has become as American as baseball, apple pie, and politics.

Why do we love this sandwich so much? Some of us love it so much that if someone said that they could eat a hamburger every day it wouldn’t sound like crazy talk at all. In fact, they’d probably say “Me, too!”

The hamburger joins the short list of elite dishes and keeps company with the likes of pizza, hot dogs, chowder, fried chicken, et al. The proof is in the seemingly innocuous question “Who makes the best _____?” You’ll not only get plenty of different answers but a debate, even an argument will ensue. Don’t be surprised if insults and even threats fly about as well.

Like, pizza, the hamburger’s popularity has much to do with how customizable it is. The gamut ranges from just some ketchup or perhaps a slice of melted cheese, to a veritable mountain of multiple patties, trimmings, sauces, and toppings making the sandwich as big as your head. The “bread” layers can be a classic bun or fried bread, a croissant, pretzel, cheese roll, even ramen noodle, grilled cheese sandwiches, or donuts. The patty can be all sorts of things, like black beans, mushrooms, tofu, turkey, or veggie but we’ll narrow the scope to the classic ground beef patty.

While the hamburger had humble beginnings – chopping up the least expensive, lowest quality cuts of meats and dressing it up making it more edible with a host of trimmings and toppings – it has also ventured out beyond its blue-collar beginnings into the “white” collar territory with gourmet, astronomically and outrageously priced versions. You can find the hamburger at a greasy spoon and a Michelin star restaurant, and there are as many versions as there are restaurants or grills at home. Foodies around the world are always eager to find a new restaurant’s hamburger or a variation they never tried and every foodie’s bucket list will have a hamburger on it somewhere.

Don’t make fun of his swag – the 4th Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu’s first world problems led to the hamburg.

While food historians (yes, there is such a thing and they take this sort of stuff seriously) don’t all agree on where the hamburger had its start since references to something similar go as far back as 4th century A.D. Rome with their isicia omentata – they are almost unanimous in that it is a very, distinctly American dish.

Incidentally, ancient Rome’s isicia omentata, was a baked minced meat patty with “…pine kernels, black and green peppercorns, and white wine.” Yum, pine kernels. That may be the only version of burger today that hasn’t been done. The term sandwich itself wasn’t “invented” until 1765 after an unknown chef prepared this marvelous creation for the …ahem… 4th Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu.

While there is a Sandwich here in Massachusetts, there weren’t Earls and this Sandwich was a town in Kent in the Southwest of England. Incidentally, the Russell family which helped create the village of Bedford which would become the city today traces its roots to the Duke of Bedford. Dukes, Earls, …oh, sandwiches. Back to sandwiches. This genteel, first First World Problem-haver, the 4th Earl of Sandwich did not want to soil his precious hands while scoffing meats, cheeses, jams and other goodies, so his chef decided to place them between two slices of bread, creating the first historical mention of the term.

If only that chef would have known the types of sandwiches people would create like something with 6 patties, onion rings, french fries, wrapped in bacon served on a donut and topped with a grilled cheese. He would have had a heart attack without even having eaten one.

Elizabeth Leslie was the first person to put a hamburger recipe in a cookbook.

Anyhow, the hamburger itself had its first historical mention in a cookbook by the prolific Elizabeth Leslie in 1840. OK guys – keep the kitchen and “sammich” jokes to yourself. Remember, you may not have ever had a hamburger in your life if it wasn’t for her. Pay tribute and homage to her greatness. After Leslie’s cookbook this glorious, glorious sandwich had its start in America’s “greasy spoon” mom & pop diners, but really only officially reached the general populace in the 1920s through the White Castle restaurant chain.

Now, some of you are thinking “Why the heck is it called a hamburger then? Is there a German Duke or Earl of Hamburg somewhere in the equation? How and when did the Earl of Sandwich and Duke of Hamburg collide?”

Well, there is Russian collusion and immigration here – don’t worry, no need to grab your tinfoil hats – I abhor politics. Russian immigrants were flocking to Germany in the middle of the 19th century and so many came to Hamburg that it was even dubbed “The Russian Port.” Or I should say what would become Germany since at that time the unification of Germany hadn’t happened yet and was only a confederate of 39 states.

Anyhow, Hamburg being a port city was like most port cities throughout history: an entry point for migrants. These immigrants brought with them tartare, a dish of raw, ground or minced beef or horsemeat. I don’t know about you, but I’m glad that the latter choice didn’t catch on.

While the word tartare is equated with French cuisine where it is served with a raw egg on top and perhaps some capers and onion, the word refers to the Turkic-speaking, Russian Tatar culture that brought the dish and variants with them to Hamburg. As happens in all melting pot cities cuisines from various cultures mingle, fuse and adapt and locals not too keen on the raw meat would simply cook it and serve it, called a “Hamburger Rundstück,” or Hamburg Steak. At this point in Hamburg’s history it was sans buns, and it isn’t a hamburger, unless you’ve got buns, hun.

The “Russian Port” of Hamburg in 1862.

Now, with a short jaunt down the Elbe, you hit the Atlantic and can come to the New World. Incidentally, again, Hamburg is a 6-hour drive from Leiden, Netherlands – the port English separatist Puritans used to embark from aboard the Mayflower. When America declared to the world “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” The Russians along with many ethnic cultures, left from the “The Russian Port” of Hamburg, came to America and brought their tartare recipes with them and the Germans that came brought their Hamburger Rundstück. So, thank the Russians for their, um, collaboration and contribution to world cuisine that helped create the hamburger we love so much today.

Most came through Ellis Island and so New York became the site of the first restaurants to serve cuisines that would appeal to incoming immigrants. Naturally, the restaurants would serve the hamburger steak sans buns and the tartare to appeal to those that came from Hamburg, so they added a Hamburg-style American fillet on their menus.

Once some clever souls figured out that you could use cheap cuts of meat or trimmings, then add other ingredients like onion making it affordable, the dish could reach the masses and it really caught on. In the 1930s, the American love affair with shortening and abbreviating names, was in full effect and the term hamburger or just hamburg came into common use.

So, when did the hamburger leave its nakedness and become the hamburger sandwich? No one knows. No boos, please – I don’t create history, just share it. The history of placing hamburger meat between two buns is one of speculation ride with anecdotes, urban legends, and myths. I mean, who doesn’t want credit for creating the hamburger sandwich? There are stories on top of stories, but I don’t think it would take too much thought to put the two together and people have likely been doing it since time immemorial.

The Hamburg Steak made popular in New York in the 19th century to attract immigrants.

Honestly, who cares? All that matters is that it exists. It’s here. You can make or get one right at one or more places within walking distance of where you are right now. In fact, the hamburger is a global phenomenon and you can get them anywhere in the world and in a dizzying array of variations.

Did someone say, “variations”? Every part of a hamburger can be substituted for just about anything. You can swap the buns for the afore-mentioned grilled cheese, waffle, fried PBJ or donuts. Sauces can be as “normal” as ketchup, mustard and relish, slightly different like Bacon jam, aioli, BBQ or Whiskey sauces or even far-out like yogurt. Ew.

Trimmings or toppings typically include any type of cheese, lettuce, tomato or onions, however you are only limited by your imagination and it’s not unheard of to hear about taste-buds destroying hot peppers, egg, French Fries, pork belly, onion rings, pancetta or prosciutto. There are even stories told around campfires that mention placing chile rellenos, berries, tater tots, caviar, soft-shell crabs even gold-leaf.

Then, of course, there is the matter of size and signature. Restaurants will market a hamburger that they invented to separate themselves from other restaurants, or they will offer a massive burger or one with multiple patties.

One of the most insane burgers I have come across are the ones served at the Heart Attack Grill on Las Vegas, Nevada. Fat, grease, cheese, sugar, calories, cholesterol, salt? Who cares!? Take it to the next level by adding as much of those things as possible in one burger and have it served to you by a waitstaff in nurse gowns and hospital scrubs. You can have these heart attack inducing megaburgers called “Bypass” burgers that range as high as 20,000 calories with a side of “Flatliner” fries cooked in lard. Heck, might as well put the “Flatliner” Fries in the burger. Wash it down with a diet soda, of course.

McGuire’s Irish Pub in Pensacola, FL offers a “…three-quarter-pounder Black Angus beef burger covered in a scoop of hot fudge-drizzled vanilla ice cream.” Say, what?

The Ramen Burger invented by Japanese-American Keizo Shimamoto uses Ramen noodles formed into the bun and the patty is seared in Sesame oil. At Boston Burger Company you can get, The King – a burger that is topped with bacon, peanut butter, and fried bananas, then dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Chicago’s Kuma’s Corner offers the “Ghost” burger, as in the “Holy Ghost. You get a hamburger with goat shoulder, Ghost pepper aioli, slathered in a red wine reduction called “The Blood Of Christ” and a communion wafer. Heilege Scheiße!

Mallie’s Sports Grill & Bar in Detroit is home to the world’s largest hamburger at 1,794lbs with 300lbs of that being the toppings and 250lbs being bun. Those are some big buns, hun. They planned it over the course of 4 years and the burger was 5′ wide by 3′ tall. Have $7,799 to blow? Give the restaurant 3 days notice and head there.

The 666 Burger food truck in New York City, used to sell a “f***ing burger filled and topped with rich people sh**” aptly called “The Douchebag Burger” that cost $666. What are the toppings that make a douchebag happy? Well, like it says in the description, rich people “sh**” like a Kobe burger patty, topped with lobster caviar, Himalayan rock salt, foie gras and it’s served wrapped in greasy $100 bills.

Douchebag Burger anyone?

The most expensive burger I could find was the $5,000 FleurBurger served at Las Vegas’s Fleur restaurant inside Mandalay Bay Casino. It gets things we’ve already come across like Kobe beef and foie gras, but what makes it so expensive is the huge quantities of expensive black truffles and it’s paired with a rare bottle of Château Pétrus, a Merlot wine made in Bordeaux, France. The wine is served in fancy, high-end Ichendorf Brunello wine glasses.

I hope you enjoyed this little merger of gastronomy, history and cultures. History can be interesting and fun, and often it’s as interesting or more so, than fiction.


Have a dish you absolutely love and want to know how it came about? A dish that your heritage has produced? Comment on the article or social media post, or inbox us at info@newbedfordguide.com.

Who Remembers…Howdy Beef ‘N Burger?

In a previous “Who Remembers…?” we discussed Burger Chef. A number of people had mentioned another burger joint Howdy Beef n’ Burger. Having grown right here and not recalling Howdy Beef n’ Burger, I knew it was before my time. There are a LOT of “Who Remembers…?” that I would like to do – in fact, a number that would already have been done – however, the lack of images prevents that.

Howdy Beef ‘n Burger was a chain with at least 27 locations making it easier to come across photographs and anecdotes – enough to put something together.

The button that kid’s would get with each order. (timepassagesnostalgia.com)


The Howdy Beef ‘n Burger chain was started by the same fellow that also founded Dunkin’ Donuts, William Rosenberg. The chain centralized in Boston and spread outward over the course of a few years and was inspired by the children’s television show that ran from 1947-1960.

“Howdy’s” was supposed to be a Dunkin’ Donuts segue into focusing on and serving food. In fact, many of the first few Howdy’s, like the one in Concord, NH that opened in 1965 and owned by Sam Silverstein, were “combination” Dunkin Donuts and Howdy Beef ‘n Burgers and not stand-alone shops. While these were separate storefronts, they shared the same parking lots and were right alongside one another.

The idea was that customers could stop in for coffee and “a” doughnut or muffin in the morning, and return later for lunch or supper. These first franchises were said to be very profitable. Silverstein said of his Concord shop that the Howdy’s brought it more revenue than his Dunkin’ Donut’s location by a long shot.

As far as the South Coast goes, the Fall River location was on President Avenue and the business mogul, Michael Panagakos, owned two of them in New Bedford. One of which was situated downtown on Purchase Street.

One of many variations of Howdy Doody restaurant, Howdy’s beefburgers, and Howdy Beef ‘n Burgers. (stolffiles.com)
I do remember the McDonald’s that replaced it, but not the Howdy’s. Based off of memory from when I was a child, I believe the Howdy’s Beef ‘n Burger/McDonalds was next door to where the Bamboo Garden was. I couldn’t find any solid information where the second one was (near the car wash), but came across one anecdote that mentioned it was at the bottom of Rockdale Avenue.

I know that someone out there will recall both and I hope you clarify.

What I’ve come across in terms of anecdotes are many. What’s remembered fondly? “Howdy, may I help you?” Clipping coupons to get four burgers for one buck or occasional sales where you could get twelve burgers for a dollar. A New England menu with seafood, including haddock or shrimp dinners, fish sandwiches, clam strips, and Snow’s clam chowder.

The Big “B” was their version of the Big Mac or Whopper – speaking of which I came across the mention of a sandwich called the “Whooper.” There was a popular roast beef sandwich and a fried chicken with French fries plate. A soda or order of French fries were 20 cents. Rumors are that you could, of course, order Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. While they didn’t have anything similar to a Happy Meal, with every order a child got a Howdy Doody button.

The jingle was as follows:

“Howdy Beefburger Drive-ins Serve up tasty treats
Beefburgers made with just the finest meats
Howdy Beefburger Drive-Ins, Drive right up and get
Speedy Speedy Speedy Service and the best Beefburgers yet.”

Do you remember Howdy’s Beef ‘N Burgers? Have pictures or anecdotes? Please comment and share!

Six rarely ordered items to try at an Italian restaurant

In the first article of this series, we talked about Chinese cuisine. In this one, we’ll talk about perhaps the most popular cuisine on earth: Italian.

Unless you grew up in an Italian or Sicilian household a typical American’s experience of those cuisines rarely goes past things like pizza, lasagna, spaghetti, ravioli, calzone or bruschetta. Even with dessert, not much is known beyond the big “four” of tiramisu, cannoli, biscotti, and gelato. But there are hundreds of dishes that most Americans haven’t tried and if we go regional,

Think about this: if Americans have made those things a part of their lives and in some cases are very passionate about it, what else in Italian and Sicilian cuisine are they missing out on? If those things are so delicious and mouth-watering and only known through popularity, you would do yourself a disservice to not investigate to discover dishes that are just as delicious if not more so.

Italian and Sicilian food has an astounding regional variety and even among nationals, there is an unawareness of dishes. For example, while we in Massachusetts consider cherrystones, coffee milk, and linguica as common as water, there are swaths of America that haven’t a clue what they are.

Having grown up in a Sicilian household I’ve eaten a large number of dishes that my Portuguese, French-Canadian, African-American, Hispanic friends in the community thought were exotic or even downright strange. This is the case for all ethnicities when it comes to their food – what is ubiquitous, normal and every day for one is brand new for another ethnic group.

I don’t know about you, but as a hardcore foodie, I actually get excited when I have the opportunity to try food I’ve never heard of. I have a bucket list of foods that I have heard of but haven’t tried yet, e.g. durian, balut, shark fin soup, bird’s nest soup, Hákarl, Casu Marzu, et al. and I’d love to check off as many as I can before I die.

Anyhow, blah, blah, blah. Let’s talk food.

Arancini with peas, ground beef, tomato. Photo by Catfisheye.

1. Arancini

For those who are only a little adventurous and need some coaxing to try something beyond the standard Italian dishes Arancini is probably the best to start with. There’s nothing out of the ordinary about it to scare anyone away. Arancini is a Sicilian classic that has been mentioned as far back as the 10-the century.

Simply put they are rice balls rolled in bread crumbs with various centers that alternate with mozzarella, sausage or ground beef and tomato sauce, or even peas and tomato sauce. They are then deep-fried until golden brown – crispy on the outside, piping hot on the inside. Serve with some dipping red sauce and you have a great appetizer or starter.

In Italy, they are popular street food and you can find vendors selling large versions place in a protective cardboard or dense paper envelope so you can walk around enjoying the vistas while chomping on one of Italy’s most delicious foods.

2. Cacio e Pepe

If you take a close look at Italian food it is typically a few main ingredients, using the freshest possible ones, and using perfect portions cooked for an exact length of time. Spaghetti Bolognese is as simple as it gets, but guess what? Ask 10 people to cook it and you taste some awful versions and some mind-blowing versions. The difference? The afore-mentioned freshness of ingredients and cooking it just right.

The problem with this is that if you don’t have a lot of experience making the dish, the tiniest mistake will make the difference between bad and great. That’s a dish with core three ingredients.

With Cacio e Pepe this theme is brought to an extreme level. Often, Cacio e Pepe is a benchmark for a chef demonstrating what can be done with a few ingredients. Mess up one step, one ingredient, cook it a few seconds too long or short and it will be forgettable. Do it all right and your face will light up and your belly will sing with joy.

Ready for the ingredients on this one? Un-sauced spaghetti, parmesan, fresh ground black pepper, and butter or extra virgin olive oil. Are you laughing? I hope so because I want you to scoff at the concept of this dish being incredible. I want you to make fun of me as some rube. Then I want you to order it at a restaurant and when you get it at the right place you will think about this article and thing “That Joe was right! He’s still a stupid rube, but he was right!”

Doubt me? Ask yourself how many bad pizzas you’ve had? How many amazing ones? Even with just cheese pizza, the difference between 2 places on the same street can be night and day, right?

3. Osso Buco

If you are a meat lover, especially when it comes to beef and/or steak this is about as umami or savory a dish you will find in any cuisine. Osso Buco is on any serious foodies’ bucket list of “must try” dishes. Osso Buco is cross-cut veal shanks braised in white wine and natural au jus style broth accompanied with cubed potatoes, carrots, celery, parsley, and garlic. You may find some variations that throw in tomatoes and/or onion.

The key here is the temperature and time the dish spends braising. When done right the meat can be attacked using a fork, no knife is needed. Because it is cooked with bone in the shank the richness that comes from that bone and the marrow raises Ossobuco to another level. A life-changing level. I kid, I kid. Ok, I’m not kidding.

4. Caponata

Meat not your thing or looking to take a break and get some vegetables? another Sicilian classic, Caponata, will right up your alley. Like red sauce, you will find minor variations from town to town, even household to household with each claiming their version to be the best.

Caponata is a slightly sweet, slightly sour eggplant based salad. Married with the fried or grilled eggplant are olives, tomato, onion, capers, celery, raisins, basil and pine nuts. A kiss of honey, perhaps some red pepper flakes and you have a bowl of happy. You can find variations on some menus that have anchovies to add an element of richness. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, just be aware of that.

This insalata is one of that I love so much that I make it at home. Of all the dishes on this list, this is one that you allows some leeway – you can make some minor mistakes and it will still come out good. Give it a go and let us know how you make out in the comments.

5. Gnocchi

Gnocci or “knots on wood” is one that sort of snuck on the list. I have come across a few people, even stubborn ones who prefer that hot dog, pizza, hamburger life, that have heard of gnocchi. Although, trying it is another thing.

Gnocchi is another dish I make at home, both potato and semolina/pasta versions. In essence, they are small love lumps or tiny dumplings made from the aforementioned pasta or potato but can be also made with egg, cheese, cornmeal or even breadcrumbs.

It is incredibly versatile because the gnocchi itself is there to supply texture to the dish and to sponge up the sauce you accompany it with. For that reason substitute soups that call for pasta with gnocchi. The sauce can be simple alfredo, a red sauce, a bolognese, some freshly grated parmesan, or even used to make cacio e pepe.

They are so popular that you can find variants in French, Croatian, Austrian, Polish, Brazilian, Argentinian, even Portuguese cuisines. For the curious, in Portugal they are called nhoque.

6. Saltimbocca

Last but not least is one that even those who are about the hot dog, hamburger, steak and potatoes life may have heard of or tried because it is, in essence, steak. Saltimbocca means “jumps in the mouth” because it is so incredibly life-altering delicious that you will go into auto-pilot when eating it. Have you ever gone out with friends who talk a lot and food comes to the table that is so delicious that suddenly everyone is quiet? Yes, that’s saltimbocca.

Ready for some taste buds to fire up? Saltimbocca is pan-fried, thinly sliced veal lined or wrapped with prosciutto and sage; marinated in dry white wine, olive oil or saltwater. Veal on its own is delicious, prosciutto on its own is delicious, whine on its own is delicious, so hey why not put them all together?

It is not uncommon to come across versions that utilize steak or chicken instead and if you are squeamish about using veal because you can look for this version or even ask a waiter if you can substitute it.

So, head out into the world foodie explorers and the next time you eat at an Italian restaurant and want to try something new or are feeling adventurous try one of these dishes.

If you end up finding something you really like, then let us know in the comments. If you don’t like it at all and you are now mad at me, let me have it in the comments. Let us know where you had and what you took issue with or really enjoyed about the dish.

Coastal Foodshed’s SouthCoast Local “Food Fight” Fundraiser, May 11

Coastal Foodshed is hosting their First Annual Fundraiser! It will include an Iron Chef-style cooking competition between 2 local chef teams dNB Burgers/Union Flats vs. Smoke and Pickles Catering.

They are serving up tasty local eats and drinks, jamming to live music, and offering one lucky guest an opportunity to be a judge with Maria Lawton and Chef Joe Rego to name our Southcoast Local Food Fight Champ!

Help us kick-off the growing season, and support Coastal Foodshed’s mission of making local food accessible for all.

$75 for one general admission ticket. $130 for a pair of tickets. Get your tickets here.

Madeira Portuguese Feast Grounds
50 Madeira Ave,
New Bedford, Massachusetts 02746
Phone: 508-817-1785
Email: localfood@coastalfoodshed.org

Saturday May 11, 5:00pm-8:00pm
Facebook Event Page: facebook.com/events/2224461631148425/
Website: coastalfoodshed.org/a-southcoast-local-food-fight


About Coastal Foodshed
Coastal Foodshed grew out of the work of Mass in Motion New Bedford (MiM NB), which was created through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to affect policy, systems, and environment changes in the areas of healthy eating and active living.

MiM NB eventually began creating and managing programs that were filling identified gaps and oftentimes acting as conduits for food access and distribution. In time, MiM NB reached its limit in capacity and found, due to its structure, it was unable to apply for certain funding sources, seek donors, and expand its work to continue meeting the community’s need without veering too far off course from Mass in Motion’s original mission.

In 2017, Coastal Foodshed was created as a direct response to this barrier, allowing MiM NB to return fully to its original focus as a policy, systems, and environment change agent.


A Trattoria that honors tradition yet stands out among the rest: Trattoria Romana at Twin River Tiverton Casino

Oh, let me count the ways I’ve eaten Italian cuisine.

Being Sicilian I grew up around it and so I had a benchmark based on my grandmother and mom’s cooking – something I used to compare to the dishes and cooking of everyone else, whether that of family, friends, or restaurants. No one did it better than those two – the quintessential characteristics of simple recipes, the freshest ingredients, and balanced proportions were improved with the sheer love that went the dishes.

No matter what anyone says, it is an integral ingredient to a dish that we can taste. From casual and formal, pizza to Ciopinno, and everything from Bruschetta to Cannoli, I’ve had it. Short of actually eating in Italy proper, there is nothing under the sun I have not experienced in the wonderful, delicious Italian foodie world.

That pretty much sums up most of the world since Italian food is one of the planet’s most popular. Most Americans live within a cannoli’s throw of an eatery, pizza “joint,” or fine restaurant.

The dilemma that Italian food presents is one of saturation. but setting oneself apart from the rest. Trattoria Romana at Twin River Tiverton Casino does just that and even manages to include that key, intangible ingredient of love. While this love is not from nonna or mom, most people don’t have one of those so this is the next best thing.

While on the topic of the next best thing, considering we almost had a casino in the city, this is also the next best thing to that. For those who enjoy sports betting, slots, gambling, etc. the added bonus of the Trattoria being at a casino means you can have a bit of fun before or after – who knows, maybe hit it big or have fun trying. It certainly beats the 90-minute drive to Connecticut and I was shocked at how short of a drive it was.

We Yankees here in Massachusetts are laughed at when we answer the question about how far away a destination is because we don’t respond with how many miles, but that’s because we have a pragmatic lean. So, it is a 15-minute drive from New Bedford- that’s how many “miles” it is. Think of how far of a drive Fall River is and you’ll get an idea.

I am not a gambling man and may visit a casino once every few years, but I sure enjoy eating!

You may be thinking “another Italian restaurant! I have foodie fatigue!” Now, hold your cavalli and cool your getti because not all Italian restaurants are created equal and not all Italian restaurants offer the same dishes and in the same way. Beyond the menu, there is also the freshness of ingredients, the quality of service, portions and affordability. That saturation has forced restaurants and chefs to raise the bar. They must stand out and stand out above the rest.

Trattoria Romana does just that.

The first thing that comes across from every single person we interacted with was the genuine pleasure everyone exuded. When a restaurant realizes that their staff is the best asset so they hire people that enjoy what they are doing it translates to a benefit for us, the eater. You want chefs that are inspired when it comes to the menu and what they put on the plate. You want servers who like people, enjoy their job.

That is the aforementioned intangible, key ingredient of love that grandmothers and moms (and dads!) put into every meal. It’s here at Trattoria Romana.

The restaurant itself has a variety of seating areas with an equal variety in lighting to accommodate each customer’s desire – whether eating alone, as a couple or a group or because you want a romantic intimate setting or something less formal. An absolutely gorgeous dark wood and glass wall is filled with an astounding array of wine varietals. If you are like me, a self-proclaimed Oenophile, it’s love at first sight. What I love about the display is being able to see all the wines in their glory as opposed to some dry text on a menu. If you know your wines, you will likely recognize many labels.

Vintage black and white images of quintessential Italian celebrities decorate the walls and breathe life into the blending of real stone and brick with hues of dark wood. A sort of modernized rustic ambiance.

That sort of traditional meets the new is reflected in the menu and dishes. No, that doesn’t mean lasagna fois gras, spaghetti with sea urchin Bolognese, or some other obnoxious idea of fusion. When it comes to Trattoria Romana it translates into a healthy respect and admiration for tradition but makes subtle improvements where possible.

Lest you think the chef isn’t qualified to do such a thing, and only an Italian should be allowed to do so: Chef Luciano Canova was born in on a small farm just outside of Rome, Italy where the entire household was cooking. He then attended the prestigious Culinary Institute of Italy in Copanello, Province of Catanzaro before cutting his “teeth” working all around the world including Switzerland, Germany and on a luxury cruise line. You may even bump into Luciano in the dining room greeting customers.

Three traditional aspects that stood out as we all bit into all the food were proportion, quality and freshness. I look at highly-salted food as a sign of a chef’s inability to trust his cooking or it’s to disguise the poor quality of the ingredients.

Every dish that came out bursting with the flavor that only fresh ingredients can give. Salt was an element that was properly utilized to compliment those fresh ingredients and bring out the flavors. Same goes for all the ingredients, not just the salt. I hate to sound pithy or use a tired cliche, but I get it when people say “It’s a symphony in every bite.” Every “note” in its proper place, no section trying to drown out the others. What a breath of fresh air.

We placed our trust in the kitchen and asked the knowledgable waitress choose all the dishes for us. We wanted to be taking along for a ride.

We started with two salads: first the Insalata Alla Greco ($6.95) – chopped Romaine, beefsteak tomato, cucumber, red onion and Kalamata olives dressed with red wine vinaigrette, croutons and feta cheese. Fresh, fresh, fresh. The vegetables had snap, the vinaigrette was clearly made from scratch, the croutons made in house. How was a meal-sized salad this good at $6.95? È incredibile!

Then was the Prosciutto e Mozzarella Smoked mozzarella cheese wrapped with imported Prosciutto di Parma lightly sautéed served with artichoke hearts, black olives, cubanito finger peppers stuffed with prosciutto & sharp provolone served over mixed greens with extra virgin olive oil ($12.95). Also a meal-sized portion and absolutely loaded.

Don’t run away scared meat lovers. There is a special room and special menu just for you, the Tuscan Chophouse, with offerings of steak, chicken, veal and seafood. We got a few dishes from that menu. Next came the Bocconcini Della Non al Vin Santo which is a chicken breast stuffed with fresh mozzarella cheese, imported baby porchetta and fresh sage sautéed in a Vin Santo and sherry wine demi-glaze with button mushrooms served over parmesan risotto and finished with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Oh my. You will never look at chicken breast the same way again.

From the Carne section came the Vitello Saltimbocca is veal medallions topped with imported Prosciutto di parma, mozzarella cheese and fresh sage pan-seared in a marsala wine sauce and served over pappardelle pasta finished with Parmigiano-Reggiano and the Controfiletto Di Manzo Alla Romana : Sirloin steak topped with white button mushrooms sautéed with extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, garlic & oregano served with mashed potatoes & vegetable.

Now Mike, Josh and Leo will lie here if you ask them. They will deny that there were tears in their eyes while ravishing the veal and sirloin and blame it on the kitchen chopping onions in the back. The dead giveaway will be their eyes welling up again as they relive the memory, so put them on the spot.

From the Chicken section came a all-time favorite of all Italian foodies, the Pollo Marsala -chicken breast sautéed with button mushrooms and a Marsala wine demiglaze for a sweet flavor and caramel color, served over capellini pasta. This was without a doubt the best, robust, savory Marsala sauce I have ever had. It was art on a plate.

The seafood selections started with a classic, the Spaghetti alla Vongole Veraci pasta sautéed with fresh littleneck clams (available in either a light marinara sauce or a garlic & white wine sauce) with Italian parsley & red pepper flakes. A generous amount of sweet, tasting of the sea, littlenecks and accompanied with a balanced garlic and white wine sauce that got me wondering what else I could put the sauce on. Pretty much anything and everything.

The coup de gras was a world-class Frutti di Mare Posilipo of Cappellini pasta in garlic & olive oil San Marzano marinara sauce sautéed with tender calamari rings, jumbo shrimp, sea scallops, littleneck clams & PEI mussels finished with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Eat at any Italian or Sicilian house and you will find out quickly the meaning of abbundanza or abundance. Ask for a snack, get a feast. Tell mom you are just going to the beach with two of your pals on a lazy Wednesday during summer school vacation and she will spend 4 hours in the kitchen making salad, soup, sandwiches, pasta, and dessert. True story.

Well, this Frutti di Mare Posilipo was a large plate of pasta and heapings of fresh seafood, and lots of love and abbundanza!

For dessert we ordered the Chocolate Mocha Truffle Cake ($6.95): Chocolate cake layered with a mocha truffle butter cream icing, drizzled with rich chocolate ganache. So delicious that we felt guilty for no reason. “I didn’t do anything to deserve this.”

If you are less trusting than we are. you have a full menu at your disposal. The menu at Trattoria Romana depends on whether you are there for lunch or dinner and, each season comes with special offerings. Because of this, I will just give you an idea of the regular lunch menu, but you can click on all the links provided to see the dinner menu, dessert menu, and seasonal menus.

The lunch menu offers traditional antipasti, soups and salads like Calamari Fritti, Mozzarella Caprese, Pasta E Fagioli Soup, and Pollo Caesar Salad but had some original dishes like the Sicilian Chicken Wings (Caramelized onions, rosemary and balsamic).

For the “main” you can choose between 9 Types of Panini or sandwiches from Chicken/Veal Parmesan, Meatball Alla Corinna, Tuscan, to Rabe & Sausage or a half dozen Pasta dishes (Pasta is made fresh daily) like Fettucine Alfredo, Spaghetti e Pollo Genovese, and Pappardelle alla Bolognese. Want fewer carbs or just a meat lover? There are three types of Black Angus burgers, five chicken dishes, and five types of veal dishes.

If you are in the mood for a “power” lunch you can complement the meal with either traditional cocktails like Amaretto Sour, Negroni, Bellini and Aperol Spritz or one of their dozen Signature Cocktails like Blueberry Bourbon Buzz (Bulleit Rye Bourbon, Luxardo Amaretto, Blueberry Puree, Fresh Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Fresh Blueberries), Watermelon Cucumber Punch, Trattoria Romana Bloody Mary, or Trattoria Housemade Sangria (Italian Wine, DeKuyper Triple Sec, fresh fruits, our own special ingredient. Love.) Non-Alcoholic sodas are offered – give the Black Cherry Soda (Black Cherry, Fresh Lime, San Pellegrino Sparkling Water.) a try!

The Dinner Menu is in essence larger portions of the lunch menu with a few extra dishes plus a Seafood Section and for Carne section for you steak lovers.

The Drink and Dessert Menu offers a head-spinning variety of wine, cocktails, beers, whiskey, Scotches, Rums, Liquors, and more.

Desserts? Oh, yes. Chocolate Mocha Truffle Cake, Homemade Biscotti, Tiramisu, Coppa Raspberries & Cream, Cannoli Duo (for two, but who are they kidding? Two cannolis are a serving of one for me!), Triple Layer Spumoni Cheesecake, and of course, Italian Gelato.

You can finish the meal off with something from the Espresso Bar: Espressos, Cafe Americano, Cappuccino, Caramel Macchiato, Chocolate Macchiato, Coffee or assorted Teas.

What is most mind-boggling of all? Not the superb dishes offered, the capable, attentive service, “wall of wine,” and attention to detail…it’s how affordable the whole experience is. You get a Michelin star experience without the Michelin star price. There are 20 dishes on the menu that are under $20, many entrees in the $10-$14 range, drinks starting at $5.75 and all desserts under $7.

It’s not easy to improve upon tradition and would typically be arrogant to make such a claim. However, there is a tiny part of the population that has the ability and confidence to actually be able to do that. You don’t do that by tossing lobster into your Bolognese sauce, adding prosciutto and truffles to a pizza, or making Alfredo Mac & Cheese, you do that by doing what Trattoria Romana is doing.


Trattoria Romana at Tiverton Casino Hotel

777 Tiverton Casino Blvd
Tiverton, Rhode Island
Phone: (401) 816-6165

Lunch Daily: 12:00 Noon–4:00pm
Dinner: Monday–Thursday & Sunday 4:30pm – 9:00pm
Friday & Saturday: 4:30pm – 10:00pm

Facebook: facebook.com/TrattoriaRomanaTiverton/
Website: https://www.twinrivertiverton.com/trattoria-romana/

Somethings’ Brewing at Newport Vineyards: Winery opens Taproot Brewing Co.

After 23 years of perfecting the art of winemaking, Newport Vineyards & the Nunes family are thrilled to announce the opening of Taproot Brewing Co. which officially opened on June 20th.

“I’ve been making beer longer than I’ve been making wine,” says Newport Vineyards owner John Nunes. “Over the last few years Newport Vineyards has transformed into a beverage, culinary and events destination; adding craft beer was a natural fit.”

Taproot Brewing Co. is equipped with a state-of-the-art seven-barrel brewhouse, located just as you come through the main entrance of the winery. The focus is unfiltered hopforward beers made in small batches and meant to be enjoyed immediately for the ultimate freshness. There is an in-house canning system allowing guests to take packs of beer home with them.

Taproot beer is on tap at Brix Restaurant, and available to all guests at the winery. Vineyard Executive Chef Andy Teixeira is very enthusiastic about the brewing venture being integral to his work, “We are working with some of our farm partners to donate the spent grain from the brewery for compost and feed.” Lunch is served at the brewery, with views overlooking the winery and vineyards, offering a slight twist to the current lunch menu to include beer pairings, in addition to wine pairing options.

The Taproot name not only represents the obvious nod to the Nunes family vineyard roots, but also symbolizes their history rooted in Aquidneck Island agriculture. The vineyard is situated on preserved farmland that has been in the Nunes family for over 100 years. Just as a taproot anchors a plant to the ground encouraging more roots to stem from it, the family’s rich farming roots have inspired other elements of the company to grow.

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Monday: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday – Thursday: 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.*
*Pints + flights available upstairs at Brix after 5pm.
Friday – Saturday: 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.*
*Pints + flights available upstairs at Brix after 4pm.


Beer + Burger night in Brix. $15 for a beer (choose from 6 on draft) and burger (3 options). Brix is open 5pm – 9pm on Tuesdays. Details here.

-Extended Taproom hours + live music 5pm – 8pm (No tickets required, just come by! (Beverages and light bites available for purchase.) See artist schedule on the Events page here.
-Flight Night in Brix. $10 beer flights (and $10 wine flights, cheeseboards and small plates). Brix is open 5pm – 9pm on Wednesdays. Details here.

Follow Taproot Brewing Co. on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/taprootbeer/ and Instagram @TaprootBeer.
For more details, please visit their website. See more photos of the brewery, beer and food here.


About Newport Vineyards
Founded by brothers John & Paul Nunes in 1995, Newport Vineyards is the largest grower of grapes in New England. The winery produces nearly 30,000 cases of estate-grown wine each year through sustainable farming methods on 75 acres of historically
preserved farmland. Following a multi-million dollar renovation completed in 2015, the winery has become a culinary and wine destination offering multiple experiences including daily tours and tastings, 100% from scratch culinary programs at Brix Restaurant and Taproot Brewery, The Marketplace, seasonal live music, private events and year-round public activities.