Friday, April 18, 2014

You’ve Heard the Old Saying…

“As comfortable as an old shoe.” Well, to use another old saying, “if the shoe fits, wear it.”

We were driving home from somewhere, and I was flipping through the latest issue of the islander—one of the free guides of places to go in Galveston. And suddenly I exclaim to My Favorite Traveling Companion “This is our kind of place!” This is Sonny’s Place.
They had me with the first three paragraphs: “4 beer taps, 3 rooms, 2 pool tables, and 1 shuffleboard are packed into a low ceilinged
space on the ground level of a green clapboard house with a green laurel out front.

“Nope, this ain’t no corporate eatery; it’s a neighborhood joint—a bar and restaurant so totally typical of the genre that anyone younger than 40 will find it bewildering. The simple menu, the hand-cranked cash register sitting atop an old safe, the jukebox, and the Elvis

pinball machine, all come together as a magical walk back in time…

“Behind the bar—calculating meal totals on a small adding machine—
is the 84-year-old, proud Italian, Lawrence Pucccetti Jr., better known as ‘Junior.’ (Ed Note: Shown here with his wife, Melba.)
Make a mental note, Junior is not Sonny. Don’t be confused. You see, Raymond ‘Sonny’ Puccetti was Junior’s older brother for whom their dad, Lawrence Puccetti, Sr. named the restaurant. It was his way to honor his son’s military service in World War II… “(Kevin Roberts for the islander).
A wall of photos, but I do not know the identity of those photographed

“In 1951, Lawrence Puccetti, Jr., known as ‘Junior,’ took over the popular family-run establishment. Sonny’s became home-away-from-home for University of Texas medical students though they had to obey the ‘no profanity’ rule and some of the rowdies were occasionally ejected for their language” (Victor Lang at
Junior runs a tight ship. In addition to the “Be Good or Be Gone” sign hanging behind the bar, the same message is printed on the front
of the menu along with an admonition against using profane language. And we learned while talking with Junior that he also doesn’t tolerate customers wearing offensive t-shirts.

But lest you think that Junior is a curmudgeon, let me correct that impression. As you look around the room you will see multiple small brass plaques containing the name of a UTMB student and the number of consecutive days that individual ate and/or drank at Sonny’s. (This
One of the plaques recognizes Kristi Wassell for eating at Sonny's on 324 consecutive days

Robert "I'll be Bach..." Lagon stopped by Sonny's on 478 consecutive days

does not include Sunday and Monday when Sonny’s is closed or when the student is on break.) One student achieved the impressive total of over 800 days!
And one evening when a group of seventeen fraternity brothers were arrested for streaking though a Whataburger, who did they call in the wee hours of the morning to bail them out of jail? If you guessed Junior, you’d be right. And did post bail? Of course.

And “(so) great was the affection of many classes of medical students for Junior that in 1996 two physicians, who were graduates of UTMB and former denizens of Sonny’s, established the Junior Puccetti Scholarship Fund at UTMB…” (Victor Lang at The Junior Puccetti Scholarship is awarded to students in the school of medicine who are in good academic standing. And note that it is the Junior and not the Lawrence Puccetti Scholarship.

And do you see the mustard bottle in Junior’s hand? This is a trick bottle with string that he squirts at customers he doesn’t know. The merry prankster got me jumping back a foot to get out of the way of what I thought was a mustard shower.
While the menu leans toward what I think of as “bar food,” Kevin Roberts writes: “…The menu at Sonny’s Place is deceptive: what appears to be simple bar food is actually a refined portfolio to time-tested favorites like Tex Mex Pasta…. A customer once described it as, ‘What fat kids dream about.’”

There are four pastas on the menu—the Tex-Mex (pasta smothered in chili, cheese, onions, jalapenos, tomatoes, and nacho chips), Grandma Theresa’s Spaghetti and Meat Sauce, Five Cheese Pasta (Swiss, American, cheddar, provolone, and parmesan), and Parmesan Pasta (lemon, butter, garlic, and parmesan).

Both Chuck and I started our meal with cups of the “Friday Only Gumbo” that contained small shrimp along with rice and tasted of both bay and thyme.
I would describe Sonny’s version as Creole gumbo given that it contained some tomato. And it was—hallelujah—served piping hot.

I was ready to order a hamburger, since many on-line reviewers sang the praises of Sonny’s, which are made with meat ground fresh daily in their kitchen. But then Chuck spied the New Orleans Style Muffuletta which was described on the menu as “Created in New Orleans by Central Grocery, a Muffuletta is an Italian sandwich made on Vienna Bread with ham, salami, mortadella, Swiss cheese, provolone cheese, and topped off with our Grandma Theresa's olive salad, which is an old family recipe passed down for many generations.”

Kevin Roberts at the islander writes that “…a grilled muffuletta was brought back to the menu as a salute to New Orleans, where Junior’s son and cook, Richard Puccetti, once lived on St. Ann’s Street…. Richard’s olive salad is made in-house with extra virgin olive oil…. However, unlike the world-famous muffuletta served by Central Grocery at room temperature, the default preparation here is hot. Richard explains that Texans prefer it that way.” And so do we.
The sandwich was almost pressed like a panini or Cuban sandwich and the melted cheese mixed with the oil from the salad and the juices of the meat and became a harmonious symphony in your mouth. We have eaten muffulettas all over New Orleans, and Sonny’s beats them all.

And with our sandwich, we shared an order of fries.
After six years of writing on this blog, there isn’t anything original that I can say about French fries other than that they were hot and crisp.

We so enjoyed our lunch that day and the chance to talk with Junior and Melba that we returned a few days later. While a repeat of the muffuletta was tempting, we decided to sample two other menu offerings.

This time we did order a hamburger—the double meat cheeseburger to be precise. And, while there are burgers topped with chili, jalapenos, bacon, etc., we wanted this with raw onion as the only embellishment.
The best way to describe Sonny’s burger is that it reminded me of the kind of old fashioned hamburger that I loved as a kid. No frills. Just good fresh juicy meat.

Our second choice was a bit more elaborate—the Artery Clogger. This is a chicken fried steak sandwich with bacon, American and Swiss cheeses, ranch dressing, onions, lettuce, tomato, and pickles.
Bacon and chicken fried steak on the same bun. What could be better?

I can’t tell you how much I loved Sonny’s Place. I felt at home from the minute I walked through the doors and one of the waitresses (Yes, here they are waitresses and not servers.) called out “Welcome to Sonny’s.”

What a 5.0 Addie find!

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.


adham said...

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شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام

adham said...

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شركة نقل عفش بالرياض
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شركة نقل عفش بينبع
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شركة نقل عفش بالقصيم

adham said...

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شركة نقل عفش