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Small Town – Big Food

My daughter, Holly & husband Rod are currently touring Europe. The past several days they have been in Italy and they keep sending me photos of the rich & exotic foods they are eating in these drop dead gorgeous restaurants.

It has been said:  “In Italy,  food is “twice blessed because it is the product of two arts, the art of cooking and the art of eating”…Italian food is something to be savored, revered, studied and examined, at a leisurely pace and with gusto, but not greed.”

Steak Florentine – Florence, Italy.

My mouth waters just looking at this presentation and I wonder…..oh, I wonder if we could sell such a delight in a small town in the Ozarks of Missouri.




Deciding on menu items in a small town diner is sometimes quite troubling. But, I have been very pleasantly surprised in our short journey in this small town thus far. Our Italian Chef, Luigi, has been very instrumental in our “mind set” regarding food offerings. His conservative European approach to food is something you just don’t find very often anymore. What I appreciate most in his cooking skill is that he doesn’t try to camouflage or overwhelm the basic food item, but rather embrace its natural qualities and build upon them!

When we rural Americans think of Italian food I think we most often think of tomato based sauces & pasta’s. Or, in its most basic form: spaghetti or ravioli “out of a can”.  This makes Luigi cringe in disgust, haha.

Italian food is NOT just sauces and pasta’s – it’s beef, it’s pork, it’s chicken. it’s fish, it’s seafood and on & on.

Not long ago Luigi asked me if I liked pork ribs……hey, I love ribs…but as an American we usually think of BBQ’d smoked ribs w goo dripping off of them. So he says: You buy – I make. He did – and it was one of the best ones I’ve ever put in mouth!  He oven roasted them for a couple hours on a rack then finished off with a light brushing of a basic light glaze. They were perfect in every way.

Ooop’s…..I tend to start rambling in a blog, but is that not what they are for? As a small town diner we will always have burgers & fries, meatloaf & mashed tators etc but the real fun comes in the form of creative cooking for our customers.

I guess that the point I hope to get to is that we are happy to come up with new food entrees……..just ask. They may not make it onto the menu but call us & tell us what you would like Luigi to make for you J We love to make big food in a small town.

So, there you have it…biting my Dunkys in Licking Missouri……..

by: Gary Duncan, Sep 2018

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