Connect with us

Food & Drink

To-MAY-to, To-MAH-to

Few foods are as fabled or fickle as the tomato. Too much water and they spot, too much sun and they rot, and the ones in the grocery store always pale in comparison to those you buy off a tailgate or on the side of the road. That’s where you’ll find Dick Capuano most days [...]
J.R. McMillan

Published

on

Few foods are as fabled or fickle as the tomato.

Too much water and they spot, too much sun and they rot, and the ones in the grocery store always pale in comparison to those you buy off a tailgate or on the side of the road.

That’s where you’ll find Dick Capuano most days from late April to early September. His homegrown tomato stand adorned in traditional Italian green, white, and red is on the same stretch of land his ancestors settled more than a century ago.

“I grew up here. Mom and Dad always had a garden, so I always had a rototiller in my hands,” he recalled. “I love tomatoes, and once people have a homegrown one, they keep coming back for them.”

You won’t find San Margherita on every map, and if you drive through too fast, you might miss it entirely. The tiny unincorporated village, just west of the Scioto River, was founded by Italian immigrants who toiled in the nearby quarry. They eventually built homes and planted gardens along the edge of what is now Trabue Road. Most of the original settlers had ties to the same province in the old country, whose patron Saint Margaret inspired the name of their new community.

“Everyone who lived here between the two tracks grew something, and maybe had chickens, a hog, or a cow. It’s how they got by and survived,” Capuano explained. “It’s how San Margherita stayed San Margherita. Everyone had their own grapes and made their own wine, they grew plenty of vegetables, and they all had plenty to eat.”

Development is slowly swallowing those plots of land and the heritage of those who once lived there. There are only a handful of descendants of the first families still living or working in San Margherita. Some of the land remains idle, and still supports farms like Capuano’s, where his better years have boasted upwards of nearly 2,000 plants. Most of these are varieties of tomatoes, but various peppers and signature grapes are always in high demand.

“My time is up October 15, which is after the end of the season,” he explained, hoping that the land’s new owners might let him keep planting depending on their timeline for development. “I really don’t know what’s going to happen next year.”

It’s not the first time Capuano has faced such uncertainty and seeming futility. During his tour in Vietnam, it was his responsibility to remove roadside mines and clear the way for convoys, only to do the same thing the following day after fresh mines were planted under the cloak of night. A firefight earned him a Purple Heart, but he’s put more than his share of blood and sweat into his tomato stand only to see it threatened by another invisible enemy.

“I used to sell out of the garage,” he recalled. “But in 2005 I moved closer to the road and the stand has been here ever since.”

Capuano keeps it simple and predictable. Crops grow on the same soil year after year. He turns under the plants to go back into the soil over the winter and repeats the process the following spring, planting fresh tomato plants entirely by hand.

Only tomato enthusiasts can truly appreciate the depth of his bench, like baseball cards lined up on a giant table waiting to be discovered by a new generation of loyal fans. From contemporary classics like Early Girls and Carolina Gold to vintage heirloom varieties like Kellogg’s Breakfast and Gigantesque, if you can’t find the perfect taste and texture of tomato, you’re just not looking.

“I pull them before they get too big and start to split, then let them ripen the rest of the way on my porch before bringing them to the stand,” he explained. “But the rain we’ve had the past couple of weeks combined with the heat means this is the last of them.”

Don’t count Capuano out too soon. His cousin Joe still has a plot of land just down the road, and though it’s increasingly hard for anyone his age to plan too far ahead, one year at a time is as good a plan as any. He’s technically been retired as a carpenter for nearly three decades already, and despite the long hours and hot days in the field and at the stand, he’s not quite willing to let it go just yet.

“When I retired, I decided to go into my garden as my little hobby, and it just kept growing,” he said. “It’s hard work in the field, but it’s also peaceful here in the shade. I guess you could call it my man cave.”

 

Continue Reading

Food & Drink

Harrison West brewpub announces open date

614now Staff

Published

on

The highly-anticipated brewpub coming to Harrison West finally announced its open date. Cleveland-based Saucy Brew Works will celebrate the grand opening of its 443 W Third Ave. establishment in early April.

The 190-seat space, formerly occupied by Caffe Apropos, will feature a brewpub with both indoor and outdoor seating. Guests can enjoy specialty New Haven-style pizza, appetizers, sandwiches, and more alongside their brews.

In many ways, the new location will be similar to the flagship Cleveland brewery and brewpub. But, Columbus will have something unique: Saucy Coffee.

A craft coffeehouse owned and operated by Saucy Brew Works, the offerings will include a single-origin house roast, pour overs, espresso, and a specialty menu inspired by Saucy beers such as What’s His Nuts, a Vanilla Stout with Peanut Butter and Coffee, and Modern Crimes, a Toasted Coconut Porter.

"Saucy’s Columbus location in Harrison West has been a long time in the making,” said Brent Zimmerman, CEO and Co-owner of Saucy Brew Works. “We have deep roots over multiple generations in Columbus and wanted to make our entrance perfect! We are excited for Saucy’s next chapter in Columbus. Columbus has embraced us with open arms, and we love them too!”

Continue Reading

Food & Drink

Secret Swensons: Off-menu items you have to try

614now Staff

Published

on

It was a dark time in Central Ohio two years ago when there were no Swensons drive-ins. Now, we've got four locations to choose from (Dublin, Polaris, Hilliard, and New Albany), and a list of off-menu items to spice up your next visit.

Because the restaurant begins cooking your food the moment you order, a wide range of customizations are possible. Pair this "kitchen-at-your-command" concept with Swensons “never say no” attitude, and you've got a unique cornucopia of hidden-in-plain-site item customizations available.

"Over the course of our 86-year history, eager and loyal customers (known as Swenatics) have found hidden treasures in our menu possibilities," Swensons said in a release.

Below are a few customizations you won’t find listed on the menu but are crowd favorites.

Sandwiches

  • Grilled Cheese with Coney Sauce: For those who love a little bit of burger with their cheese.
  • Fish Sandwich “Galley Boy Style”: Galley-boy goodness isn’t only for burgers. Swenatics often order fish sandwiches or fried chicken “Galley Boy Style,” with two secret sauces (one tangy, one sweet) and cheese.
  • Egg Salad Sandwich with Cheese and Bacon: Although Swensons don’t serve “breakfast,” Swenatics have found a tasty breakfast hack by adding bacon and cheese to their egg salad sandwiches.

Crispy Extras

  • Broken Onion Rings: Think of an onion ring that handles like a fry. Swensons takes their onion rings and breaks them apart before cooking, which creates the perfect bite-sized piece. No more worry of half of the onion falling out on the first bite!
  • Ordering “Cajun-style:” Amp up the flavor by ordering something “Cajun-style.” The smoky, garlicky, and peppery Cajun spice can be added to any crispy extra or sandwich.

Sweets

  • Swensons has 18 different milkshake flavors available, and you can mix as many as you want. Really. Some favorites include a PB&J shake (Peanut Butter and Grape), Mocha & Mint, Blueberry & Lemon, and Peanut Butter & Hot Fudge.
  • Swensons is always down for a dessert mashup. Try asking for a Hot Fudge Milkshake with a brownie or Xango (our cheesecake rolled in flaky pastry) mixed in.

Never been to Swensons? Check out the following tips to optimize your first visit:

  • Park facing the restaurant. Since all dining takes place within your vehicle, service revolves around your headlights. Turn them on and a Curb Server will come sprinting over to help you. Leave them off and they’ll leave you to enjoy your meal.
  • No need to leave your car—Swensons is a drive-in through and through. Once your order’s ready, their Curb Servers run it out to you on a nifty tray that either hooks to your window or the inside of your door, weather permitting.
Continue Reading

Food & Drink

Discount Date Destinations: Saturday Samplings at The Refectory

Lindsay Pinchot

Published

on

Welcome to Discount Date Destinations, where we’ll bring you the best places in the city with date-night-worthy atmospheres and food and drink specials that won’t break the bank. In today’s installment, we head to The Refectory.

For many, The Refectory evokes images of elegant anniversary dinners and impressive date nights, and rightly so. The Refectory has long been established as one of Columbus’ best and most beautiful restaurants, serving contemporary American and classic French cuisine. It probably isn’t one of the first places you think of when you hear “discount,” but maybe it should be.

Every Saturday afternoon from 12pm- 3pm, The Refectory hosts Saturday Samplings, a weekly wine tasting event. For only $15-$20 per person, depending on the flight that week, you taste a selection of different wines and help yourself to light hors d’oeuvre while relaxing in the Refectory’s charming bar area.

When you’re done tasting, additional glasses of the wines are only $5 each, so you can stay and sip your favorites. Last weekend, my husband and I attended the first in a themed, two-part Saturday Sampling series: For the Love of Wine. We had a great experience.

The ambiance was wonderful, especially for a wintry Saturday. Upon arrival, we were given a warm welcome and tasting cards listing information about each of the wines we’d be sampling. At the top of the tasting cards was a question, “When did you first fall in love with wine?” which led to some entertaining conversation, both between the two of us and with the staff. The sommelier poured each wine as we were ready for it, giving us a little background on it and explaining what we could expect from the taste. Between glasses we snacked on an array of breads, cheeses, oils, and hearty dips.

The best part? None of the selections were too pricey and all were available for purchase from The Refectory’s wine shop. Our favorite taste of the day was only $12.99 a bottle.

Saturday Samplings is a fun, relaxed way to experience The Refectory where all wine drinkers, from newbies to decades-long aficionados, will feel welcome. For the Love of Wine (Part 2) is this Saturday, so grab your valentine and head to The Refectory for a cozy afternoon. When you’re done, buy your favorite bottle to take home and split snuggled up on the couch.

https://www.facebook.com/refectoryrestaurant/posts/10158294760883826:0

The Refectory is located at 1092 Bethel Rd. For more information, visit refectory.com.

Continue Reading

No mo’ FOMO

Missing out sucks. That's why our daily email is so important. You'll be up-to-date on the latest happenings and things to do in Cbus + be the first to snag our daily giveaways

Shop Now!

The Magazines

X