[CH] Testing for Echo (Norfolk, VA Eats)

Eggert, Len (leggert@sysplan.com)
Wed, 10 Jun 1998 10:38:06 -0400

Hey George (Goslowsky):

I used to live in Norfolk, but it's been a few years (actually, more
than a few), so I can't really recommend any restaurants featuring
chiles.  There are plenty of good seafood restaurants in town, and you
can ask any of your business associates there to recommend one nearby.
But there are two local "institutions" that you ought to check out:

Regino's, an Italian restaurant in the old Ward's Corner shopping center
at the intersection of Granby St. and Little Creek Rd.  The manager and
cook have been partners in this place, in the same location, for at
least 35-40 years.  The sausage is homemade and to die for. And the veal
parmigiana here is the real deal, not "a Salisbury steak in a Shake and
Bake, smothered in Campbell's tomato soup and a provocative sauce of
Velveeta," as the inimitable Tom Waits describes the dish in "Nighthawks
at the Diner."  Portions are large, so be hungry.

The French Bakery (I think it's still called), a tiny pastry shop AND
DELI located a couple of blocks on the other (downtown) side of the
Granby Street Bridge, near City Park.  This place has been run by the
same family for most of this century. (My great uncle, dead over 40
years, was buddies with George, dead over 30 years and the son of the
guy who started the business.  George's wife and sons still run the
place. Now get this:  The last time I was in there, a couple of years
ago, George's *mother*, well into her 90's, was still bussing tables and
holding forth.)  The pastries are incredible, but we go for the
sandwiches, which are unique in the Western world.  Order the house
submarine.  The pastrami will be sautéed in a little olive oil just
before it goes on the roll and then slathered in a sauce that I have
tried to duplicate, with little success, for years (olive oil, herbs, a
little Dijon mustard and nutmeg . . .).  The bread is all made there and
unbelievably good.  (True story:  In the 1940's, the French navy put
into port in Norfolk to replenish their stores and turn their sailors
loose for furlough in the dens of iniquity downtown.  Some of their guys
discovered George's bread and took some back to the ship.  The admiral
tried a chunk and was so impressed that he ordered something like 2,000
loaves for the crew.  George had to lock the doors to the public and
work night and day for a week to fill the order.) If you're famished,
you might be able to eat a large sub (as I could in my youth), but a
"small" one will probably do the trick. (Or share a large one if you're
not eating alone; somehow the big one just tastes better.)  Grab an
imported beer from the old soda cooler (the kind where the bottles sit
in chilled water), sit under one of the original (1920's vintage)
belt-driven ceiling fans, and give thanks that some things, at least,
never change.

Len Eggert