Luigi's is as much a
Augusta, Georgia as the Masters.
Originally opened in 1949 by Nicholas Ballas, it is
presently owned and operated by his grandson, Chuck Ballas Jr.
and his wife, Penny. It's the oldest continually operating
restaurant in Augusta and there is a reason why. They are proud
to honor the family tradition of great Greek and Italian dishes.
Penny explained, "The recipes are my husband's grandfather's.
They have been passed down and sometimes adjusted to meet
current trends. My husband still makes the sausage himself."
|Interior of Luigi's Restaurant
This attention to detail plus the old world
décor and the friendly atmosphere make this a favorite eating
spot for celebrities as well as just ordinary folks. Ben
Crenshaw has standing reservation when he is in town.
Nicolas' family are regulars during Masters week.
Some of the
celebrities who have dined there over the years are
Jackie Gleason, Dan
Marino and Randy Quaid.
|Meatballs and spagetti and pizza
Golf Digest consistently votes Luigi's as one of their
favorite restaurants of pro golfers when they are at the
I had the Meatballs and Spaghetti for
lunch. My companion ordered pizza and I had to swipe a slice of
that too. Finished it all off with baklava. It was flakey layers
of filo dough oozing walnuts, cinnamon and honey. It gives the
term "finger-licking-good" a higher meaning and is my all time
favorite Greek dessert
Castelli's Restaurant at 255
another ethnic restaurant with a family tradition. Today, it's
owned by Tracy Castelli and her brother, Matt. It's been in the
family since their great grandparents, Alfonso and Teresa
Castelli, and their son, Pete, opened in 1937.
|Memorial to founders at
Alfonse was a
coal miner and Teresa learned cooking the hard way; feeding her
husband, family and friends on his paycheck. When they first
opened the restaurant in a simple house, people stood in line to
get a taste of Teresa's cooking.
There were some rough days in the
restaurant's history but one thing is still the same. People
still stand in line to get a taste of the great food.
was Chicken Parmigiana. It was plump, juicy and covered with a
rich tomato based sauce and tons of melted cheese that had me
almost drooling even before the first bite. Salad was fresh and
tossed with their special house dressing. Dessert was a real
Italian Cannoli. Yummie!
|Cannoli at Castelli"s
The atmosphere is true Italian also.
Tracy and Matt have not forgotten their roots. The restaurant is
now housed in a modern brick building that seats 325 but inside
there are pictures of the early locations and family on the
walls and even a table set like a shrine to honor Alfonso and
usually greets guests, will be happy to tell you more about the
restaurant and family's "good old days."
Rosita's in Scotts
Bluff Nebraska celebrates tradition in their food and décor.
This part of Nebraska had a large Mexican population so the food
has to be authentic. Owners, Paul and Rosie Lermus offer real Mexican food. It's
not frozen. It's not fast food. One good example is their chips.
They are puffy chips, called Ponchos rather than the usual flat
tortilla chips. Their salsa is spicy not bland.
|Mexican Cultural Dancers perform
I enjoyed their
Chicken Fajitas but the many other dishes, tamales, tacos,
enchiladas, and others looked good too. Their
fried ice cream is a really unusual dessert.
When you visit be
prepared to relax and enjoy the atmosphere. Each dish is made to
order so it may take some time.
The atmosphere really makes Rosita's special. Out front you will
love the huge metal sculptures.
fantastic fried ice cream
Inside the décor is bright colors with many Mexican murals and
paintings on the walls.
As might be expected, Cinco de Mayo is
celebrated in a big way here.
You might get lucky and enjoy a
performance of the young Mexican Cultural Dancers. Three of the
young girls performed the night we visited and we were all blown
away by so much talent in such young girls. These kids
|Chef Tom with some happy
customers at Lemongrass Thai Bistro
Lemongrass Thai Bistro in Macon, Georgia
of the most unusual restaurants I have ever visited. It is a traditional Thai restaurant that specializes in Thai
Fusion food. The Thai menu is extensive and very authentic. The
owners, Gary Schechterle and Tom Sarrtsud, pride themselves n
the freshest and most innovative food.
When we visited for brunch I got a huge
surprise. The brunch was right out of a Louisiana Cajun kitchen.
I had the Fresh Corn Gourmet Grit Bowl with shrimp, Andouille
Sausage and eggs. The grits was Red Mule Stone Ground and the
corn was Georgia grown. It may
not be Thai food but it was lip smacking good. And they had lots
of hot tea choices complete with a ceramic pot to keep it nice
and hot. Hate it when places only have coffee. (Hey
restaurateurs, some of us don't drink that stuff.)
Coffee drinkers don't
write Lemongrass off. You are not left out they have lots of
choices in coffee too. They even have coffee and chicory for
You might even find things as varied as
Creme Brulee French toast, fried
chicken, Eggs Benedict or a Po'-Boy there. One reason for the
unusually broad variety is Chef Tom. He was originally trained
in French cooking and worked his way through the kitchens of New
York learning every type of cuisine imaginable. He progressed from a lowly dishwasher to the executive
chef at the 4-Star InterContinental Hotel.
|Grits bowl and tea pot at
These are just a few of the great ethnic
restaurants around our great county. When you travel, always be
willing to experiment and try new things especially food. It is
a rewarding experience.
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