Joe Jerge has sold a lot of meatballs in the last 10 years, as Mulberry Italian Ristorante became a household name outside of his Lacka- wanna base.
Guy Fieri praising his house-made lasagna and giant meatball on the Food Network didn’t hurt.
Now Jerge is looking to expand his culinary horizons with plans for the Mess Hall, his second place, with an all-American menu offering flavors from the Southwest and Southern canons. It’ll be at 717 Ridge Road, where Victoria Square was, in the shadow of the basilica. His partners will be Charles Goodspeed and John Glavey of Brick Oven Bistro.
It’s “not a second Mulberry, more Americana type food,” he said. “I kind of want to play with different things, like Southwest and Southern, with maybe a little Italian-American here and there.”
It’ll be breakfast and lunch, to start, and a Sunday brunch, seating about 50. “The people that come to the Mulberry for lunch, they don’t come every day,” said Jerge. “On the days they don’t, I want them to come to the Mess Hall.”
“We’re trying to update that corner, put in a garage door and maybe bring a little slice of Elmwood to Lackawanna,” he said.
“It can be anything. There’ll be staples, and if we want to make specials we can make whatever we want. That’s what I want to do.” He’s hoping to open in September.
189 Public House opened Thursday in East Aurora, offering Southern-inflected comfort food in a two-story space that’s designed as a live music venue.
“We were able to take advantage of the natural brick, and the two-story structure, to create a number of levels for sightlines for the music venue,” said owner Clark Crook. “Somewhat similar to (Buffalo’s) Sportsmen’s (Tavern), but unique.”
It’s next door to Bar Bill, which Crook owns too. But 189 Public House is a separate operation. You won’t be able to order Bar Bill food there, no matter how impossibly crowded the popular wings-and-weck joint gets.
The menu at 189 is a whole different kettle of catfish. “We developed a bar menu that’s really small, appetizers, sandwiches and a couple of entrees,” said Crook’s son John, who will lead the kitchen. “It’s centered around comfort food, and it’s a little bit inspired by Southern cooking, because we don’t really see that around too much.”
Appetizers include a basket of bacon ($7), grilled shrimp with bacon vinaigrette ($14) and moules frites with curry sauce ($14); entrees include fried chicken dinner ($15), shrimp and grits ($17) and a bratwurst platter ($13).
It’ll hold about 100 for dining, 200 for music. At first, the performance schedule will be slow, a few dates a month, Clark Crook said. The kitchen will be open for lunch and dinner, from noon to 10 p.m., though that could change on performance nights. (Hat tip to the Rev. John Mack)
New truck: The burgeoning Western New York food truck fleet grew again yesterday as Tom Pease, owner of Blue Lantern Lounge (6120 Seneca St., Elma, 652-2583) launched a Philly cheesesteak food truck called Philly Flattop at Larkin. It’s his second truck. Pease tried to sell a balanced menu of healthy food on his first truck, Da Blue, until he got an offer he couldn’t refuse, and sold the truck the next day. Follow the Philly Flattop's progress on Twitter.
Truck coming: Mineo & Sapio Street Eats will bring the family owned Buffalo sausage favorite to the masses outside its Erie County Fair stand. “We are almost ready to rock and roll,” said Michael Pierro III. It’ll serve grilled Italian and chicken Italian sausages, as well as the Royal, classic Italian with capicolla and provolone cheese, plus andouille and chorizo po-boys. He’ll try to get it on the street and selling soon, but it might debut after the fair concludes on Aug. 17, he said.
Truck coming: Susan Trankle, a former baker at Hyde Park Steakhouse, is working on a dessert truck called Big Suzie’s Little Bakery. “I focus on throwback baking, things your grandmother will do,” she said. “Whatever fruit’s in season, we try to go for.” Plus triple chocolate brownie cake. She hopes to start selling by mid-August.
Lunch started: Tony and Kathy Cangianiello, owners of Vino’s, the Italian restaurant at 1652 Elmwood Ave. (332-2145), have decided to serve lunch one day a week. It’s Fridays, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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