WAKEFIELD - Strawberry Shortcake Stuffed French Toast. Peanut Butter Delight Pancakes. Sweet Potato Hash Browns. Food this good only comes along once in a blue moon, unless you're having breakfast at the Blue Moon Grill.
Located on Main Street in Wakefield, the Blue Moon Grill is cozy and comfortable. The portions are big; the atmosphere is laid back; and just about everyone knows each other, which is exactly how owners Vinny and Nancy Chiuchiolo want it.
"We want them to feel like family," Nancy said. "I mean when we decided to do this, the biggest thing that we wanted to do was to make you feel like you came into our home, and we cooked for you in our own home. And that's what we do here."
Vinny and Nancy opened the Blue Moon Grill about five years ago, and built the place into such a success, they recently had to expand the dining room to accommodate all the satisfied customers. While it may seem like these owners are as well seasoned as a side of home fries, they actually appeared to be restaurant rookies when they first opened the place.
"I got laid off in February of '09; I was in the legal business," Nancy recalled. "Vinny, he put in fire protection for commercial buildings for 25 years, and he got laid off in March of '09. So we reinvented ourselves. He said 'Nance, I want to open a restaurant.' And I said, 'Vin, you can't cook. We're gonna lose everything.'"
You see, in all their years together before opening the restaurant, Nancy didn't think Vinny even knew how to chop an onion, but that all changed when they bought the place.
"It was like he was a different person, and all of his culinary skills just came out."
"She didn't know I was a gourmet chef," Vinny said. "I love to cook, I just absolutely love cooking. It's my passion."
Vinny's love of cooking comes through in every big plate he puts out of the tiny kitchen, like the Italian Stuffed French Toast filled with Nutella and topped with caramelized bananas; and the fresh and fruity Strawberry Shortcake Stuffed French Toast.
"Strawberry Shortcake French Toast is great," Nancy said. "Two pieces of French Toast, cream cheese in the middle, fresh strawberries on top, and whipped cream. If you like strawberry shortcake, I mean this is it. It's all fresh, it's amazing."
Another fruit filled treat is the Raspberry Bliss Pancakes. They are infused with raspberries and cream cheese, and sprinkled with brown sugar.
"The brown sugar actually crusts on the top, so it's crunchy, and then the raspberry. When it's warm, it's just savory and sweet; it just all comes together," described Nancy.
Nothing is more decadent that the Peanut Butter Delight Pancakes. These things are so good, just saying the ingredients is enough to make your mouth water.
"Peanut butter, bananas, pancake, a little powdered sugar on there, it's just crazy good," listed Nancy.
Many of the dishes at Blue Moon Grill make use of potatoes, and in ways rarely seen at breakfast, like the Breakfast Stuffed Potato Skins.
"It's a potato. He cuts it in half, scoops it out. And he puts in scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, and bacon. Then he serves it with sour cream and his homemade home fries," Nancy explained. "It's just unbelievable."
Another dish of surprising spuds is Vinny's Sweet Potato Hash Browns, featuring shredded sweet potatoes that are formed into patties and fried to order.
"Then I top it with butter, brown sugar, and a touch of cinnamon," he said. "It's a candied style sweet potato, something you might have at Thanksgiving or Christmas. It's phenomenal."
"It is crunchy on the outside. It has the brown sugar and the butter oozing all over it, and then you get that nice sweet taste inside. It's just amazing. It's different; it's nothing like you'll ever have," Nancy reinforced.
Out of everything on the menu, there's one dish that Vinny loves cooking above all others.
"My favorite thing to make is an Italian breakfast called Nonna's Special. It's a frittata. It's made with three eggs, peppers, onions, Italian sausages, I actually put some home fries in it, Romano cheese, and topped with provolone cheese melted. It brings me back home to when I was a kid when my mom used to cook for me. It's an Italian omelet really."
Since Vinny grew up in the North End, there are Italian influences all over the menu, especially at lunch where he serves dishes like Shrimp Scampi, Chicken Cacciatore, and an enormous Chicken Cutlet Club.
"I blow their minds. They've never had it so good," he boasted.
The Blue Moon Grill is open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week, and Vinny and Nancy are almost always there. So like any couple that works together, keeping the peace can be a challenge at times, but they seem to have figured out a formula.
"I do all the talking, he does all the listening," Nancy joked. "He doesn't listen though."
"Five to one ratio," he countered. "I listen for five minutes and speak for one minute."
But this man of few words doesn't mince words when it comes to why this this place is so special to him.
"It's ours. We do it together. We do it for our family, for her and I and our three kids. That's why we do it."
You can find the Blue Moon Grill at 955 Main Street in Wakefield, and online at bluemoonwakefield.com.
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