2008-12-31 / Restaurant of the Week


t he motto of Ridgewood Eats exclaims, "Great food done right". Nothing could be truer at this bustling little eatery in Ridgewood. Owners John, Chris and Spiro work tirelessly to maintain the high quality of the food

served and the sparkling clean interior. It was so

nice to come in from the cold and see families tucked into booths and gathered around tables enjoying Ridgewood Eats' delicious food. In fact, this would be a nice way to start the New Year, by enjoying a hearty breakfast, lunch or dinner at this friendly neighborhood spot, which is open seven days a week from 7am to 11pm.

You won't find more generous portions of freshly made dishes at better prices anywhere. The staff is very friendly and the holiday decorations make you feel right at home. Appetizers can be ordered at lunch or dinner time for a nice start to a meal, and there are plenty to share, such as their spicy, flavorful buffalo wings prepared with a dry rub and crunchy coating and served with bleu cheese dressing. Chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks are very popular with kids and come with sauces for dipping. The tender chicken fingers are so popular, you can order them as a meal, served with French fries. Crispy taquitos are crunchy tacos filled with shredded, spicy chicken, served with guacamole, sour cream and salsa. Each day, the chef prepares three different soups. My cup of creamy shrimp and roasted corn bisque was heavenly. Yukon potato and cheddar and chicken tortilla were the other choices of the day, all delicious.

At lunch or dinner time, Ridgewood Eats serves oven pressed panini sandwiches and wraps. Panini are Italian style sandwiches, made on foccaccia bread, then pressed with a sandwich grill to melted bliss. Ridgewood Eats makes hundreds of these tasty sandwiches a day, the most popular being the Honey Chicken Panini. A grilled chicken breast is topped with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and a touch of honey mustard. The tri-color toasted sandwich features salami, ham, Monterey jack cheese and mustard, toasted to perfection ($8.50). Ridgewood Eats' delicious wraps, made on flour tortillas, include the grilled chicken pesto wrap, rolled up with fresh mozzarella, sun-dried tomato, lettuce and tomato with a smear of rich pesto sauce. The new Cambridge Floral wrap is named for a nearby florist and combines breaded chicken cutlet with fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers and a zesty sauce ($6.50). The Florentine wrap is also new, made with grilled chicken, feta cheese and fresh spinach. Next time I'll try the Barcelona wrap with fresh roast turkey, sun-dried tomato, olives, cucumber and salsa.

Come for dinner with the kids, where the nightly specials are delicious, inventive, beautifully presented and reasonably priced. You can come here every night and never eat the same dish twice, unless you want to! Dinner specials of the evening included rigatoni with fresh shrimp primavera. This over-sized dish was loaded with more than half a dozen tiger shrimp, lots of fresh zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli and carrots, all in a delicate white sauce ($13.95). The presentation was so beautiful with its garnish of chopped parsley and a real orchid flower in the center of the dish. Besides all I managed to eat that night, there was plenty for lunch the next day. Chicken Fantasia is a new offering, sautéed with garlic, broccoli, roasted peppers and olive oil over pasta.

A 12-ounce Angus steak, meatloaf and grilled twin pork chops satisfy even the largest appetite, since all entrées are served with your choice of soup or salad. If you prefer seafood, the new Dante's Combo sautees fresh calamari and chopped clams in a spicy tomato sauce over pasta. Salmon Mediterranean was gently sautéed with roasted garlic, lemon, and white wine, served with pasta or rice for just $12.95. Of course, one could always have their famous 8-ounce charcoal broiled burgers with your favorite toppings and fries or sweet potato fries.

Ridgewood Eats serves hearty breakfasts seven days a week, but get there early on weekends, due to its popularity. Choose among golden, crispy Belgian waffles, topped with fruit and maple syrup or a stack of fluffy pancakes with crispy bacon, ham or sausage or fluffy omelets folded with cheeses, ham, spinach, avocado, mushrooms and more. Muffins, cereals, bagels and egg sandwiches are swiftly packed up to take to work on weekdays too and the coffee is delicious. Plan to start your New Year here with a delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner. For dessert, try a hunk of Junior's famous cheesecake, brownies a la mode, home style, piled high apple pie or the Big Blitz, which you'll have to see for yourself.

Ridgewood Eats will deliver to your home or office and menus can be faxed to your office for fast, free delivery. Professional catering is also a snap. "No need to be doing dishes, when it's so delightfully delicious". Another truism from Ridgewood Eats and this writer.

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