After years of working in other people’s kitchen’s chef Michael Patrick has a restaurant of his very own.
Rizzo’s Diner opened earlier this month in the former Harry’s Detour space on G.E. Patterson (in the South Main Arts District).
I stopped by for dinner last night, and I’m happy to report that Patrick doesn’t need someone else’s kitchen to be good. He’s doing pretty well in his own space.
The menu fits in with the recent local trend of comfort food with class. See for example, the meat loaf ($17) I tried last night. I didn’t think I liked meatloaf (thanks, school lunches), but I’m pretty sure I do now. Rizzo’s was made with ground beef and some kind of spicy sausage and came with a heaping pile of extra creamy mashed potatoes. The whole thing was topped with green tomato gravy.
The menu has cheeseburger soup listed, but I opted for the soup of the day ($3 cup, $5 bowl), a Cuban chicken vegetable stew. It was thick and had big chunks of shredded chicken and vegetables. It wasn’t super spicy, but it was very well seasoned with complex layers of flavor that seemed almost architectural.
And as awesome as the meat loaf and soup are, there’s one thing on the appetizer menu that you should be excited about, if only because you can’t find it anywhere else: the lobster pronto pup.
Chef Patrick has managed to combine the highest and lowest classes of food into one delicious dish on a stick. The pronto pups are big, white chunks of lobster that have been battered with Pronto Pup batter, impaled on a stick and drizzled with homemade mustard. The taste is a little more tempura than corn dog, but it’s crunchy and warm and easy to share.
As for the space, it’s pretty cute. The dining room is long and narrow, with tables on one side and a semi-open kitchen on the other. There were some tables toward the back of the room, and one table outside. They’re working on building a patio in the open space next to the restaurant.
Rizzo’s Diner is open for lunch and dinner Monday – Saturday. The lunch menu is priced at $6 – $11, and entrees on the dinner menu are priced at $16 – $22. Our friendly server said that the restaurant is BYOB with no corkage fee until they get their ABC permits. While the restaurant is billed as a diner, it’s probably not appropriate for young kids.