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A Taste of Nostalgia

December 26, 2008 - Phyllis Sigal
I love to eat at high-end restaurants in big cities. I love to try new and exciting eateries with top-notch chefs at the helm.

But there is still nothing like a good home-made meal at a little mom and pop place, and we in the Ohio Valley are lucky to have a few such places.

One of our favorites — especially for breakfast — is Sonny Boy Restaurant at 881 National Road in Bridgeport. Just try eating breakfast for $2.49 anywhere else! You can barely make two eggs, toast, potatoes and your choice of sausage, ham or bacon for $2.49 in your own kitchen!

The service is very fast, the waitresses are quite efficient and seemingly born to be waitresses. The potatoes are not greasy, and the eggs are always done the way we order them.

And every time I'm there, I say I'm going back just for pie. The pies are huge and piled with meringue. So yummy looking! And a piece of pie is only $1.95. There's also rice pudding and bread pudding on the menu.

Also on the menu is hot roast beef and mashed potatoes, for $3.59! Cabbage rolls and mashed potatoes, $3.79. It's like a time warp!

We were there one weekend — before election day — and Belmont County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Berhalter was stumping, and all the waitresses were wearing T-shirts urging voters to choose him. It's his aunt and uncle who run the place, he told me.

How do they do it? How do they serve such great food at ridiculously low prices? Well, I don't know, but the place is always busy. It must just be sheer volume — and good, down-home food — that keeps them in business.

Then there is the Rigas Restaurant at 3293 Belmont St., in Bellaire.

When my dad, Herman Sigal, was in business in Bellaire, that was our hang-out. Rigas opened in November of 1963, and just celebrated 45 years in business.

My dad worked at the department store just across the street, then later opened his own shoe store on Belmont Street. We'd go there for lunch or in the afternoon just for pie (again, beautiful, big pies with piles of meringue!) or for dinner on Friday nights when all the stores (and there were lots of stores back then) were open until 9 p.m.

I had lunch at Rigas last week, and was pleased to see Clara Rigas, who, along with her husband Mike, opened the restaurant in 1963.

I told her who I was and she said she remembered me when I was just a tot ... I would've been 6 years old when the place opened.

I had the Greek lemon soup and a BLT. I'm still craving the soup; it was perfect! And the BLT had so much bacon on it, it kept falling off! It was really good!

The prices here, too, are back in time: $3.50 for a salmon patty on a bun, $3.50 for a burger. The dinners mostly averaged around $8, while the sandwiches were about $3 to $5.

Clara noted that they don't use frozen anything! They grind their own meat, cook all their own food and bake all their own pies.

You really can taste the difference.

I applaud the people that keep these establishments going in today's tough economy. And they should be congratulated for continuing to offer the public a good product and for not compromising their values.


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