By Jim Duncan CVFDude@aol.com
New managers for baseball restaurants
New managers for baseball restaurants
Baseball may have lost national pastime status, but it’s still the ultimate conservative metaphor. Its enneadic dogma (nine players go nine innings on 90 foot squares within a 90 degree axes) resists progressive interpretation. Baseball’s fans can even be rigidly conservative about the game’s food. My father never accepted that “hot dog stands” had morphed into “concession stands.” My grandfather referred to such things as “peanut stands.“ At least they both died before nachos became baseballs best-selling food. As a new season began, two-baseball themed restaurants opened with new managers and lineups.
After previously announcing it would open in January as Major League Pizza, Corigliano’s took over the former Big Leagues skywalk venue in April. The family name is a better fit for a conservative sport. Corigiliano’s is an old southside pizzeria, long famous with Lincoln students for the deep tomato flavors of their sauce. Opening Day came after four months of spring training adjustments. Because the skywalk is all electric, owner Andy Corigliano had to adapt pizza recipes that had only played in the gas oven league. His decorating scheme remained sports oriented with Cubs and Yankees getting preferential treatment while sports videos reminded customers how bad the musical scores for sports films like “Rudy” were.
Big appetites swing for the fences here. My Italian sausage sandwich was twice the size of some others in town with more than half a pound of meat, plus cheese and tomato sauce on a large Rotella’s bun grilled in an old fashioned sandwich toaster. In southside fashion, one can choose hot, mild, mixed or giardiniere chilies, pickled banana peppers or fried peppers. Regular pizza were sold by the slice and the large slice, the latter being larger than some whole pizza elsewhere. Grinders are the “fast” food here with loose meat sausage in tomato sauce on an untoasted bun. Everything else is made to order and takes a few minutes. Cavatelli came with the family sauce, two kinds of cheese and old school meatballs, herbed to their core. It also brought two pieces of garlic bread, the soft Italian kind that has been state of the southside art for 80 years. Walking tacos and cappacola sandwiches completed the menu, though Corigliano said that would expand after a beer license comes through and the café can extend hours.
Across the street from the state fairgrounds, Homeplate opened as a family diner with a baseball theme. The St. Louis Cardinals were the preferred icon, though owner Ken Sobocinski seemed savvy enough to welcome I-Cub memorabilia, too. Homeplate’s venue long served its neighborhood as Four Seasons. From my visits, Sobocinski provides the same warm hospitality and special assistance for senior citizens for which Four Seasons was adored.
His menu is similar to Four Seasons,’ too, mixing true scratch foods with some short cuts while keeping everything affordable. Among the scratch dishes, mashed potatoes, hashed browns, coleslaw, chips and roast beef stood out while pancakes really stood out for their marvelous textures. French fries and pork tenderloins were more typical industrial versions. Handmade fried chicken and meatloaf have potential, but the former was deep fried to an overly crisp texture and the latter had been grilled on both sides, suggesting that a refrigerated cut had been reheated on a grill. Gravies had the bouillon flavor of Kitchen Bouquet. However, at the prices charged (a four-piece chicken dinner with mashed potatoes, gravy and a salad cost $8), Homeplate deserves an expanded strike zone.
Gateway Market introduced a fantastic new line of raw link sausages, including every genre in baseball’s “Sausage Races,” plus some chicken versions, too… The first “soft shell crab night” of the year at Waterfront will be May 19. CV
Caption: Cavatelli with meatballs at Corigliano’s, 700 Locust St., skywalk level, suite 301, 244-9922. Hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Home Plate Diner, East 30th and Walnut St., 262-7000. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.