When I’m out of town and looking for a good breakfast, I usually ask around about mom-and-pop restaurants in the area. Sure, I like Bob Evans and Denny’s, but there’s something about the informal atmosphere and homestyle cooking at smaller, family-owned eateries that appeals to me. Dining at these locally grown restaurants also seems like an all-American thing to do during these tough economic times.
Locally, Mom’s Café recently opened on SW 19th Avenue Road where Biggby’s Coffee used to be. The place is a true family affair, with mom, dad, the kids, and the in-laws involved. Weary of toiling for others, Rick and Rosemary Formella decided to try their hand in the restaurant business.
“I got tired of working hard for someone, making money for them,” says Rosemary, “and only hearing feedback when things went wrong.”
Well, Rosemary, how’s this for feedback?
My breakfast visit included two eggs-over-easy, toast, and a sample each of sausage gravy, grits, and home fries. The extra-large eggs covered most of my plate, and the grits were real, not instant or watery. I asked for cheese on them and got the real thing, not sauce. The sausage gravy was meaty, not canned, and the home fries were seasoned just right. My coffee was refilled often, and real butter, not spread, was on the table.
For lunch, the meatloaf (a Blue Plate Special) was two huge slices smothered in gravy with two sides and bread. My black-eyed peas were the way I love them—soft and in their own gravy. Dessert included made-from-scratch Dutch apple pie and creamy cheese cake.
Mom’s Café is open 6am–2pm, Monday through Saturday and closed on Sunday. Call 690-2233 for a faxed menu to check out the lunch items and Blue Plate Specials. For the bigger appetite, check out the All-You-Can-Eat Sausage Gravy and Biscuits for only $4.99.
Carmichael’s, 622-3636, located on NE 25th Avenue in Ocala, is again under new management. Jim Helferich, one-time operations manager for the original Carmichael’s on Silver Springs Boulevard, and Trish Galinat, former sales coordinator for Silver Springs, purchased the restaurant in April.
Helferich, an executive chef and former president of the Florida Restaurant Association, is keeping old favorites, such as the chicken pot pie and meatloaf, and adding new selections including the Norwegian salmon, prime rib (daily), and rice bowls. A new Sunday Brunch from 10:30am to 2pm is just $12.99 for adults and $5.99 for children 10 and under.
The Sunset Dinners are still served from 3–6pm and only $8.49. Also available is an extensive wine list and a private banquet room, which seats up to 80 guests.
Nibbles:The Mojo Grill and Catering Co., 369-6656, may be open by the time you read this. Featuring Cuban, Cajun (crawfish boils and clam bakes), and Southern food (barbecue), Mojo is located in downtown Ocala where Genesis Café used to be. Felix’s now offers curbside carry-out. Call ahead for lunch or dinner at 629-0339 and your order will be ready in 30 minutes or less.
Chef Daniels Gourmet Café, 216-6507, has opened on the first floor of the Sovereign Building at 108 N. Magnolia Avenue, just one block north of the Square. Owner/Chef Daniel Miller has created a menu of French and California cuisine for guests. French restaurant La Cuisine, 433-2570, off SW 1st Avenue is coming soon. Stacey Atsides will open soon Stella’s Modern Pantry featuring gourmet items, including cheese, charcuterie, mustards, jams, and pastries as well as kitchen supplies. The business will be located on Broadway in the space formerly occupied by Mango’s, which has moved to a new location on Hwy 27.