Helpful ReplyConnecticut grinders

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Ketteract
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2016/10/01 22:28:08 (permalink)
With the demise of D&D's Franklin Avenue location, I made it my business today to seek out another longstanding Italian market in the South End, namely, DiBacco's.
 

 
Their history apparently dates to 1969.
 

 
This had been another recommendation by my old Italian landlord, and as soon as I walked in, I understood why. "Old-school Italian." That's really the only phrase you need to describe this place. It sums up the food, the people, and the establishment perfectly.
 

 
I walked in, and the vibe was immediate. They've been here for decades; they and their customers know exactly what they're about; the Italian-American classics served up here are eternal.
 

 
The decor was time-worn and time-honored. Italian was more commonly spoken than English (in fact, I didn't hear a lick of English until they addressed me!).
 

 

 
The food made me feel good just looking at it: lasagna, arancini, cutlets, calzones, sausage and peppers, Sicilian-style pizza, countless meats and cheeses, laundry baskets full of very attractive-looking bread.
 

 

 

 

 
Fresh rabbit!
 

 
The dining area had that strangely comforting mixture of casual old decor and utilitarian furniture. In the middle were small tables pushed together for communal seating. I saw an elderly gentleman eating at the back - noticing him was almost like a reminder to me to eat slowly, to sit and enjoy my meal on this rainy afternoon.
 

 

 
Cutlery, cheese, pepper... everything you'd need.
 

 
I got a slice of sausage pizza, arancini with sauce, and a sausage and peppers grinder.
 

 

 

 
All were excellent, but the housemade sausage in the grinder was the standout - it was everything you would want an "Italian sausage" to be, and then some. I should also mention the sauce, which I take for granted as being from a longtime family recipe. That's the glorious norm at places like DiBacco's.
 

 

 

 

 
DiBacco's is one of the few remaining Italian fixtures in the South End, more of an oasis than ever after D&D's closure. I would say get here and enjoy the time warp while you still can. Assemble your own feast, sit down, and make believe you're on Franklin Avenue as it used to be. Time well spent.
post edited by Ketteract - 2016/10/01 22:45:57
Michael Hoffman
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2016/10/01 22:44:17 (permalink)
Beautiful!
leethebard
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2016/10/02 01:14:34 (permalink)
Now there's a place I'd like to visit!!!
Ketteract
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2016/10/02 09:53:05 (permalink)
Everyone was so happy, too, on a wet, dreary morning.  Customers chatted in Italian with the cashier and the folks behind the counter (one of whom I presumed was the Angelina mentioned in the article); as I sat and ate, I overheard an excited conversation about how to make bourbon steak - this was the only extended sample of English I heard while I was there.  
 
The clientele definitely skewed older.  At 36, I was easily the youngest person there.  I couldn't help but wonder if DiBacco's would absorb some of the people who used to go to D&D... or if everyone was already going to both anyway.  My old landlord had mentioned both to me.
Wintahaba
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2016/10/02 11:23:16 (permalink)
Great stuff Neil....living old school North East vicariously through you.
TnTinCT
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2016/10/02 13:00:41 (permalink)
That looks like a "must do" stop! I was sad to hear of D&D closing, we never got there very often but it's sad to lose the classic places that have been there for decades. The bread on the sausage grinder looks pretty good - the sausage looks amazing!
Ketteract
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2016/10/02 14:58:21 (permalink)
I'm glad that D&D still has the Wethersfield location, but it's undeniably sad for Franklin Avenue to lose another Italian establishment.  I can't fault them for their decision.
 
And regarding the bread: it's harder to rate when some of its characteristics are concealed by toasting, but it was still definitely better than what you'd get at Wethersfield Pizza House or Franklin Giant Grinder.  An old Yelp pic from 2012 (not mine) shows an even better-looking loaf...
 

 
...and a Yelp review from 2011 claims that the bread, at the time, came from New Jersey.  I suppose that wouldn't be a surprise to anyone here!
post edited by Ketteract - 2016/10/02 15:00:19
mlm
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2016/10/03 18:13:40 (permalink)
Morgantown, West Virginia, where I was raised, have a lot of people of Greek and Italian descent. I imagine when I was there in the 1960s, there were probably a lot of great little grocery/sandwich shops but I never had a chance to go to them. My aunt told me my grandfather used to bring home great spaghetti in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. I suspect he bought in just such places. I would love to find such a place, now. Goes to show Road Food lives, you just have to know where to look.
Allisondbl
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2016/10/03 18:41:07 (permalink)
mlm: Roadfood DEFINITELY lives. Just finished a summer two-month tour of 32 states and Canada, and possibly the most wonderful thing I ate - other than calf fries I must admit (and if anybody knows where to get those in the Tri-State area I'd be eternally grateful!) - was a Navajo fry bread with lamb I got from a truck just pulled up on the side of an off-road highway in the middle of nowhere, found via a single sign along the main road. Man that was some GOOD eating! 
 
And FWIW when people mourn things like "great spaghetti in the 30s, 40s, and 50s" with the GREATEST respect for your Aunt - and I MEAN it - remember that our "foodie" palates have definitely evolved, and I think the wonderful thing about the geekification and foodie-ing of the world is that EVERYONE has upped their game. Which might mean that for those of us who spend time on wonderful threads like these and to whom such matters, and remembering some meals I ate when I was a kid, I suspect that at least sometimes what's being remembered by someone might not hit our palates as quite as wonderful now! (Although having said that, I still remember my grandma's spaghetti sauce the like of which I've not tasted since she passed, made wonderful with chicken fat ... while at the same time I remember how much crap red sauce larded with oregano came from then as well!)
 
Alley
leethebard
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2016/10/03 20:56:13 (permalink)
I hope food never evolves to the point where I can't remember with admiration those delicious peasant depression dishes my grandma and mother made for me growing up in the 50's. Simple, nourishing....and delicious....and my taste buds will fondly remember them when I still make many of them today.
mlm
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2016/10/06 18:57:01 (permalink)
Thank you for your support, Lee. Alley, I will grant you that many ingredients, particularly, ethnic ones, were difficult to obtain, especially out of season or away from areas with high immigration populations, up to very recent times. However, every period of history has had both good and awful food. Delicious food can be made with simple ingredients and exotic dishes can be dreadful. No point in arguing about how good the spaghetti really was. That was long ago and my aunt is deceased. What does interest me is whether it was unusual for people in my grandfather's household, Scotch Irish and German, to bring home Italian takeout, as it were, or if lots of people did that.
mikehess
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Re:Connecticut grinders 2016/11/30 03:17:09 (permalink)
I could so use some right now! That looks amazing. Would be wonderful for my Catering business: 
post edited by mikehess - 2016/11/30 03:20:39
Ketteract
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Re:Connecticut grinders 2016/12/30 14:29:26 (permalink)
Finished out the working year with a grinder from the Wethersfield Pizza House.  Opted for something different this time: fried mozzarella. I've seen it on the menus of a few places in the Hartford area. It's exactly what you'd expect. 
 

 
It did occur to me that this might be intended to go with other grinder fillings... but given the size of WPH's meat portions, I can't imagine adding this!
post edited by Ketteract - 2016/12/30 14:31:18
hatteras04
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Re:Connecticut grinders 2016/12/30 17:06:06 (permalink)
That. Looks. Awesome!
Uncle Groucho
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Re:Connecticut grinders 2016/12/30 17:08:22 (permalink)
I showed my wife!
lleechef
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Re:Connecticut grinders 2016/12/30 18:10:57 (permalink)
Have to agree with the others.......that looks REALLY good!!!
ScreamingChicken
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Re:Connecticut grinders 2016/12/30 20:30:20 (permalink)
What else was on the mozzarella grinder?  Just some marinara?
Ketteract
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Re:Connecticut grinders 2016/12/31 09:57:28 (permalink)
Yep, just sauce.  Peppers and onions wouldn't have been bad.
 
This was part of a group order.  One coworker wanted his chicken parm grinder with peppers, onions, sauce... and mayo.  I called in the order myself, and the fellow on the other end didn't want to believe it.  "Mayo with sauce?!"  
Ketteract
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Re:Connecticut grinders 2017/01/12 19:38:44 (permalink)
Ketteract
the older-school-looking places also offer a "pepper and egg" variety, which is entirely new to me

 
pwnchef
At my old hang out in Bridgeport, they use to make me a egg and pepper grinder. Think of the peppers sauteed in olive oil, then scramble a few eggs in with it, S&P to taste.

 
Michael Hoffman
Peppers and eggs -- the real late night snack.

 
Four years later, I've finally gotten around to trying a pepper and egg grinder!
 
The origins of this sandwich appear to be religious: it's a meatless Lenten option that exists in Chicago, Boston, New York, and other places where Italian-American Catholics are heavily concentrated. One TripAdvisor review for good old Franklin Giant Grinder stated:
 
Kparfl
I can still remember my first time as a child going here with my father over 40 years ago. He bought a Pepper and Egg grinder and I had some. Over the years I have other grinders and their pizza and it's all really good, but when I ever get a chance to go to this place I don't even have to think about it, I'm ordering a Pepper & Egg a bit of extra peppers, some sauce, a splash of oil and cheese in the oven. To me it's perfection on a plate, a huge plate by the way.
 
For years I've tried to figure out what makes it so damn good and it differs from all the other scrambled eggs on a roll or near attempts at dense eggs on bread. One day it hit me, the incredibly dense egg is very similar to Egg Foo Young in density, but a bit drier. I believe they do it in an oven with a bit of less liquid than other recipes that are done in a pan.
 
Whatever it is, it's out of this world. There is no other like it.

 
... well, now, how could I go anywhere but Franklin for my first taste of that?
 

 
Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from a sandwich whose basis was "merely" peppers and eggs... but this surprised the heck out of me. It was astoundingly good. From what I could see and taste, it was done in exactly the same manner as what that reviewer described, and if you believe him, it hasn't changed in decades.
 

 
Dense egg indeed, with the peppers cooked right in, all coated with the same sauce and cheese that you'd get on their chicken or eggplant parm. I'm not Catholic, but I could see myself ordering this repeatedly and not missing meat one bit - it's that good.
 
Just for fun, I snapped a couple of pics from behind the counter, because why not?
 

 
No clue what kind of meat this was. I couldn't see clearly enough. It looked beautiful, though.
 

 
The adventure continues...
post edited by Ketteract - 2017/01/12 19:42:14
Ketteract
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2017/01/13 05:35:09 (permalink)
I also got a half chicken parm grinder - just to be safe - because I wasn't 100% sure if I would like the pepper and egg.  
 
My new rankings:
 
Franklin Giant Grinder does the best chicken cutlet/parm in the state of Connecticut.  It could be the oil they use, or the breading, or both, or something else - but there's a distinctive, addictive quality that I've simply never seen duplicated.  They are A-number-1 for this type of grinder.
 
Coming in at a very, very close second place is Wethersfield Pizza House, with Corner Deli in Hamden and Carbone's Market in Torrington tying for a respectable third.
post edited by Ketteract - 2017/01/13 05:38:14
leethebard
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2017/01/13 14:32:14 (permalink)
Ketteract
I also got a half chicken parm grinder - just to be safe - because I wasn't 100% sure if I would like the pepper and egg.  
 
My new rankings:
 
Franklin Giant Grinder does the best chicken cutlet/parm in the state of Connecticut.  It could be the oil they use, or the breading, or both, or something else - but there's a distinctive, addictive quality that I've simply never seen duplicated.  They are A-number-1 for this type of grinder.
 
Coming in at a very, very close second place is Wethersfield Pizza House, with Corner Deli in Hamden and Carbone's Market in Torrington tying for a respectable third.


My dad's favorite sandwich was a pepper and egg sandwich..or potato and egg sandwich, and yes it was popular on all those meatless Fridays.. Hell, my Italian grandma would scramble lots of things into eggs. She even made my dad chopped meatballs and eggs....or a favorite of mine:spinach and scrambled eggs. Try that one...perhaps adding a little grating cheese to it....Yum!!
Michael Hoffman
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2017/01/13 16:24:33 (permalink)
Meatballs and eggs is a great dish. Try leftover broccoli rabe, sausage and eggs.
leethebard
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2017/01/13 17:56:56 (permalink)
Michael Hoffman
Meatballs and eggs is a great dish. Try leftover broccoli rabe, sausage and eggs.



Ketteract
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2017/01/14 08:37:20 (permalink)
I wouldn't mind trying a meatball and egg grinder.  I'm a little scared to ask the folks at Franklin to make me one, though.    I can try my best at home...
leethebard
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2017/01/14 10:00:33 (permalink)
My grandma made it with the Sunday gravy still clinging to it. I used to tell my dad:Sicilians will scramble anything in eggs. Try that spinach and eggs. It's super!
Ketteract
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2017/02/04 13:59:21 (permalink)
Whatever I may have said about meatball grinders earlier in this thread, allow me to deliver an update: the best one to be found in Connecticut is, in my current opinion, at the Santopietro Deli in Waterbury.

I was informed about this place by a friend who grew up in that city, and instructed to try the meatball grinder before anything else.  I am thoroughly obedient when it comes to such things.

Um, yeah.  Look at this.



That gorgeous bread is none other than Milite's, a Waterbury bakery that, as you may recall, supplies Carbone's Market up in Torrington, the regional Nardelli's chain, and undoubtedly many other sandwich purveyors.  

Fortunately, the rest of the grinder held up to the bread.  I chose to not have it toasted, since this particular bread is already very crusty.  


 

 
The sauce was nicely balanced, with tang and sweetness meeting amicably, and the meatballs were well seasoned and wonderfully tender; they would very much stand on their own.  I didn't see them in the selection of hot items, but come to think of it, I'm not sure I've seen that at any grinder shop.  (I'd be very curious to see Franklin's enormous meatballs prior to slicing.)



I must confess that I was tempted by the meatloaf, but I couldn't waver from my objective.  Also, this was the first time I'd seen franks and beans offered at any place like this - and if I weren't in Connecticut, a state with its own proud hot dog tradition, I wouldn't have given them a second look.
post edited by Ketteract - 2017/02/04 14:01:23
lleechef
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2017/02/04 14:56:05 (permalink)
Mamma mia!  Thatsa beautiful meataballa grinder!!! 
leethebard
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2017/02/04 15:15:45 (permalink)
lleechef
Mamma mia!  Thatsa beautiful meataballa grinder!!! 


Hey with that accent you could ask for "a" pizza and say "apizza",hell and start a misguided trend.
lleechef
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2017/02/04 15:32:02 (permalink)
That's my take on the old Alka-Seltzer commercial!  I only call it apizza when in CT.  There's a word for all the rest.  Garbage.  Especially in Ohio!
leethebard
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Re: Connecticut grinders 2017/02/04 16:03:06 (permalink)
lleechef
That's my take on the old Alka-Seltzer commercial!  I only call it apizza when in CT.  There's a word for all the rest.  Garbage.  Especially in Ohio!


Pizza in New York and New Jersey is NOT garbage.,not by a long shot. Pizza in America originated in New York and it's still tops in my book. Had pizza in "apizza" territory, and it's very good, but not God's gift to pizza. I'll give Pepe's their great clam pie, after that NYC is still champ. 65+ years of pizza eating, but its just this FBI Italian's humble opinion!
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