by BETH ALTENA In a way, buying their own restaurant was like an anniversary present for Debbie and Douglas Ryke. The couple celebrated their fifteenth anniversary the day after they opened the doors of Fatzo’s Pizza. In a way, it was like a whole new marriage. “The restaurant is our life now,” said Debbie of the couple’s eatery, which is located in the same spot that was formerly J.D.’s Pizza, and prior to that Peppino’s. Debbie said her husband, the “Fatzo” of the restaurant’s name, has been putting in 90 hour weeks to ensure his dream is off to a good start. She also noted that she might go on a diet because she doesn’t like the idea of becoming known as “Mrs. Fatzo.” Debbie said Douglas always wanted to have a restaurant of his own, and after working in the industry for more than 30 years, opening and running well-known Italian restaurants in West Michigan, he finally decided now was the time. One week to the day after the Friday, September 7 opening, Debbie said business has been terrific, people have been enthusiastic, and food has been “flying” out the door. Douglas said he always believes food is best when it is all made by hand and his is—with the exception of the ravioli—and all with authentic Italian recipes. The restaurant features pizzas, including the famous Chicago-style with two layers of dough, cheese and fresh toppings covered with a hand-rolled crust and sauce, and also other Italian favorites—lasagna, mostaccoli, oven-baked subs, breadsticks, salads and a wet burrito which has already become one of the hottest-selling menu items. The menu features more than 45 items. Douglas said the couple worked hard to prepare for the rebirth of the restaurant as Fatzo’s, where customers can dine in, order delivery or pick up to-go orders. The staff so far is three—the Rykes, and literally the best man they could find for the job, Tom Remington. In addition to offering the same extensive restaurant experience as Douglas, Remington was the couple’s best man at their wedding. “It was fun last Saturday,” said Debbie. “We were all here working and we were joking with each other, saying, ‘I know where you were 15 years ago.’ “ Douglas has an […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL “It was awesome”, said Rockford master plumber Blaine Kellermeier after the second of two summer grilling seminars, complete with sit-down dinners, which were hosted by Pete Kruer of Rockford’s ACE Hardware. “I consider myself a fairly accomplished backyard griller,” continued Kellermeier, “but I’ve managed to learn something new while attending each of these classes.” Last week’s second “ BBQ boot camp”, held in the beautiful ACE gardens adjacent to the hardware store, focused on pork butts and briskets. As with the first class, real BBQ experts were on hand to bring everyone in attendance to the next level. Presiding over the class were radio show hosts “Barbecue” Bob Nurmikko and Randy “Jop” Joppie, aka “The Grillin ’Guys”. Also instructing was Rob Russell of Kansas City’s Ace of Hearts Barbecue Specialties. Russell has a reputation of being the top expert on BBQ grilling in the nation. Highlighted during the evening, was pork butt and brisket preparation – especially trimming techniques to remove excess fat. Although one may, there is no reason to leave all of the fat on a brisket. Smoke and rubs will not penetrate it and it will take more time to fuel and cook the brisket with all of the fat intact. In the end, you are not going to eat the fat – you are going to cut it away and discard it. Classmates learned, especially when it comes to smoking, the necessity of placing meats that are as cold as possible on the grill. Meat will only take up smoke between 40 degrees F. and 140 degrees F. If you start with meat at room temperature, you will not end up with a desired perfect smoke ring. Much time was spent stressing the importance of using premium natural hardwood lump charcoal and maintaining proper temperatures during the entire process – before, during, and after. Tenderizing techniques and methods, which included marinades and a hand-tenderizing tool called a ‘Jaccard’ were discussed and demonstrated. Injection methods and ingredients were also touched on. As with any large roast, we were reminded it is important to let a brisket rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing so the juices inside have a chance to redistribute. We could go on […]
Wine Spectator announced recently that Reds on the River in Rockford has been awarded the prestigious 2012 Award of Excellence. As such, Reds will be featured in Wine Spectator’s August 31, 2012 issue, which hit newsstands on July 24. Award winners also are listed online at www.winespectator.com/webfeature/show/id/47026. Reds’ summer wine list features over 400 wines and its knowledgeable staff also receive continuous training in order to be able to recommend wines for Reds guests. Reds also hosts a monthly Wine School (October–May) on the first Tuesday evening of the month. For additional information and a calendar of featured wines, check out reds-live.com or follow Reds on Facebook. Reds’ manager, Lance Climie, noted, “Our team works hard to find wines that are not typical or common and wines that are also affordable. The best wines are not always the most expensive. We are proud to be recognized by Wine Spectator magazine.”
Flo’s Pizzeria Ristorante & Sports Bar new moniker There will be a shorter name for a locally owned family restaurant and sports bar. Florentine’s Pizzeria Ristorante & Sports Bar will now be Flo’s Pizzeria Ristorante & Sports Bar. “To the Uccello family, high-quality service and food is everything,” said Dan Uccello, who, along with brother David, owns and operates the restaurant and sports bar. The brothers intend to continue to serve the community and keep the high standards the eatery has become known for and say to customers, “Nothing will change but the name.” “You can enjoy the same great menu items made with the same great recipes, accompanied by extraordinary service,” said David. “On behalf of the Flo’s staff, we would like to thank you for the support and we look forward to many more years.”
On Saturday June 2, the Second Annual Chili Cook-off to benefit the American Legion, Wounded Warrior Project and Pets for Vets was held outside the Delta Plex in Grand Rapids. The Chili Cook-off team of “The Two Bad Dads” took home three awards. Bill McDaniel and Tom Troyanowski won “Best Booth,” first place, in traditional red chili and the “People’s Choice” award.