Service of Regional Food

May 3rd, 2021

Categories: Food, Regional Food, Restaurant

It all started with a Facebook review by a friend complaining about the Steak de Burgo she’d been served at a restaurant. New to me I looked it up and soon learned why I’d not heard of it. Seems the butter topping, with herbs, garlic and wine in one version, has been a specialty in Des Moines–where she lives–for 60 years. It appears to be an adaptation of beurre maitre d’hotel [butter, parsley and lemon juice] and other herbed butters the French put on steak.

For New York–the city anyway–I think of bagels and dirty water hotdogs, the latter sold by sidewalk vendors, and giant soft pretzels often combined with mustard. My favorite bagels are from Ess-a-Bagel. And we used to specialize in fat deli sandwiches with pastrami or corned beef. My favorite haunts–like Carnegie Deli–have been out of business for years. Health and diet conscious customers opting for smaller portions–or no meat at all–dealt a blow to these establishments.

A friend from New Jersey told me about Italian style hotdogs served either on an Italian roll or pizza bread, with bell peppers, onions, and potatoes.

Another pal shared some Rhode Island specialties. Autocrat is a brand of coffee syrup made in Lincoln, R.I. used to make coffee milk. She told me about a milkshake known, in the Ocean State, as a cabinet. When I lived in Boston we called it a frappe. In R.I. they serve a creamy clam chowder–no doubt a version of what we ID as the New England variety–and celebrate the dish at an annual festival. Local clams are Quahogs. And Del’s lemonade, a frozen concoction, is sold from trucks especially in summer at the beach.

David Landsel stuck out his neck in Food and Wine Magazine when he selected the best pizza by state. I bet noses of many pizza aficionados flew out of joint at his rankings. The winners, in order, are New Jersey in first place followed by Connecticut, New York, Illinois, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts,  Ohio and Missouri. I’ve not tried the famed Razza pizza in Jersey City but I have often been to Pepe’s–Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana–in New Haven which my husband had been going to since college. Landsel mentioned John’s of Bleecker in NYC–opened in 1929– which I’ve never tried.

What are some of your most beloved regional drinks or dishes made either where you grew up or where you have lived or do now?

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14 Responses to “Service of Regional Food”

  1. Hussein Ahman-Uttah Said:

    While I am living in a desert, utterly devoid of such things, I am mindful of the joys of the fish and chips of back home!

    (Almost utterly, unless, that is, one travels to far away Atlantic Avenue with its eponymous chippie)

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I love chips and fish and am embarrassed to admit I’ve never eaten fish and chips in London or anywhere. Something to look forward to. I enjoyed pub lunches many times.

  3. B.C. Said:

    Philadelphia cheese steak with onions. !

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m hungry right now and that sounds so good!

  5. MarthaTakayama Said:

    Regional foods in New England have long been suffering from the changing health habits,the endless search for pretentious revisions or updates and the pandemic. There is no good delicatessen. El Oriental de Cuba in Boston’s Jamaica Plain continues to be a constant source of delicious Cuban food and tropical beverages which appeals to an extremely diverse multi-generational public. Taberna el Horno turns out delicious tapas. For New England seafood, Captain Marden’s in Wellesley is consistently delicious and nostalgic, and without frills, which makes it even more transitionally New England. I think you can still get Indian Pudding, and other New England fare at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury, MA. The pudding is a New England dessert from colonial times which I happen to love. The legendary Durgin Park in downtown Boston with its chowders, baked beans, enormous slabs of roast beef and Indian Pudding closed in 2019.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I should not be reading your comment at lunchtime either. All the restaurants sound tempting. I am SO SAD to read that Durgin Park closed! I went there several times in the day.

    As for food choices changing with what we consider healthy diets a friend told me he bought a colleague her favorite breakfast: egg-white omelet. Guess what? She always gets cheese in the omelette. I’d rather a plain omelette without cheese; I suspect the cholesterol count would be the same.

  7. TC Said:

    Well now–it’s good to see “Pepe’s Peerless Pizza Parlor” is still holding its own after so many years. When it served me {and Homer} as Yale students in 1950 it was already a well established family business.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    We would take fun day trips from our house in upstate NY to New Haven. We’d visit the Yale University Art Gallery–a beauty and free for everyone–walk around town and have lunch at Pepe’s if it was open. In recent years, however, the lines were daunting, even though the restaurant has grown beyond its original building. If you wanted to see a smiling Homer it was in a booth at Pepe’s with a glass of beer and a pie.

  9. Lucrezia Said:

    Veal Scaloppini, Steak au Poivre, Lamb Vindaloo & Rack of Lamb. Just gained a ton thinking of the calories!

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m still full from the Philadelphia cheese steak, fish and chips, New England clam chowder and Indian pudding I envisioned from the comments before yours. However, in two or three hours I could wrap my lips around the rack of lamb or steak au poivre in yours. I noticed earlier today that a restaurant around the corner from my apartment listed the lamb dish for two on an outdoor menu board for $68. Lamb continues to be pricey.

  11. Deb Wright Said:

    Chicago’s deep dish pizza is the best in the United States! Chicago hot dog vendor trucks, root beer floats in Illinois, Richard Walker Pancake House in northern suburbs of Chicago…I could go on and on.

    Chicago is sadly in some cases a very segregated city. However, there are ethnic neighborhoods that feature food from their home cultures. We have the biggest Polish population in the world outside of Warsaw. Many people who live here do not speak English even though they have been here for a few generations. Chicago has definite clear neighborhoods that are German, Vietnamese, East Indian, and if you want Thai food, it is the best in Uptown where I grew up.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I love Chicago, haven’t been in decades, and wish I’d known about the deep dish pizza!

    New York is blessed with ethnic food as well. I fear the small restaurants have suffered during the pandemic both because of shutdowns and because many of their customers could no longer afford to order in or eat out.

  13. Eileen Dover Said:

    Enjoy a steakhouse dinner or omakase for special occasions. I tend to frequent favorite joints for specific meals I enjoy eating at that specific place. When traveling, I always try the local fare. I’ve mastered my own take out meals and try to cut out the bad stuff while keeping it tasty! I’ve never eaten in Eleven Madison but hear they are reopening with a vegetarian/plant based menu…oh well, guess I missed the fois gras and duck rillette!

  14. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I visited Eleven Madison for lunch a lifetime ago. Vegetarian/plant is a trend. It is probably here to stay but who knows.

    All I can tell you is that when healthful eating was “new,” and I’d order food for “enlightened” guests at an association event, the beautiful veggie plate with dips was intact at the end of the evening while the cheese and charcuterie platters were picked clean. No doubt this has changed.

    I’m with you: try to discover where the locals eat when on the road. Forget the tourist trap the hotel concierge sends you.

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