“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.
“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
“Behind the bar—calculating meal totals on a small adding machine—
“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 guidrynews.com).
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
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 “(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 guidrynews.com). 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.
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 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.
And with our sandwich, we shared an order of fries.
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.
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.
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.