1125 Fall River Ave.
Seekonk, MA 02771
July 12, 2014
When I first started dining at the Not Your Average Joe’s in Dartmouth many years ago with a friend, I repeatedly ordered the same thing – the Mezzaluna. The Mezzaluna was spinach ravioli stuffed with artichokes, a three-cheese blend, prosciutto and sundried tomatoes. Sometimes we’d get the Devil’s Tower for dessert – two devil’s food cake “towers” served with vanilla ice cream, fresh whipped cream, hot fudge and caramel. Unfortunately both of these dishes went the same way as the friendship – they disappeared due to unknown circumstances. Fortunately for me, NYAJ decided to bring them back as part of their 20th anniversary celebration.
When Mom first told me about the return of the Mezzaluna and the Devil’s Tower, I freaked out. I have mentioned them often throughout the years, and they’ve both been gone for at least a decade or more. Although I needed absolutely no convincing to have dinner at NYAJ, Mom wasn’t exactly on board. “It’s not my favorite,” she said. NYAJ has a bit of an eclectic menu (click here to view) and for a plain eater like Mom, sometimes ordering can get a bit tricky. With that being said, she found a few things on the menu she could choose from and so off we went.
Mom and I were seated quickly and our waitress – Abby – took our drink order. We both ordered Diet Pepsi ($2.99 each). Now we hadn’t been to NYAJ in a while, so I was really looking forward to having the complimentary bread and oil. The bread and oil at NYAJ has always been one of my favorite starters, but unfortunately the bread on this visit was a bit overcooked and some of the caramelized onions on top were burnt to a crisp. The cheesy/garlicky oil tasted very good and so did the inside of the dense bread. I guess we could have asked for another basket, but we wanted to concentrate on our meal.
I didn’t even look at the menu except to make sure that the Mezzaluna ($12.99 – lunch portion) and Devil’s Tower ($7.50) were still on it. What I did notice was that they would only be offered through July 15! It’s a good thing that we stopped in when we did. I would have been crushed if I’d missed having them one last time. Mom decided to get the Anything but Average Meatloaf ($11.99 – lunch portion), which was stuffed with fresh mozzarella. It came with sautéed veggies, barbecue gravy and mashed potatoes, but Mom told Abby to leave the veggies off.
It didn’t take long before our food arrived. Both plates were presented beautifully and I almost cried because my Mezzaluna looked – and smelled – exactly the same as it did all those years ago. Mom’s meatloaf came in a fashionable tower with mashed potatoes on the bottom, meatloaf in the middle and more potatoes and onion straws on top.
I couldn’t wait. I cut a bit of my ravioli, a piece of tomato, a piece of prosciutto and scooped up some of the delicious cheese sauce to make the perfect bite (like Barbara Streisand’s character in “The Mirror Has Two Faces”). The taste was unbelievable. It was like stepping back in time because it was just as I remembered. The salty prosciutto and the creamy cheese were perfect together and the ravioli were stuffed with flavorful filling. I tried to eat at a slow pace so that I could make it last, but eventually I was done. I even ate the little scallions that were on top. It was fantastic.
Mom – who didn’t even want to come to NYAJ – loved her meatloaf. The portion was perfect and the mozzarella inside was just enough so that the whole meatloaf wasn’t dripping with cheese. The barbecue sauce was tasty and the mashed potatoes – garlic she said – gave everything a punch of flavor. She said the meat was cooked perfectly and nicely spiced (she could taste the little bits of onions and peppers mixed in) and she would get this meal again in a heartbeat. So much for not being able to find anything on the menu!
During the meal I was kicking myself for not ordering a non-alcoholic cucumber mint spritzer ($3.99). It just sounded so cool and refreshing, so we had Abby bring one over (Mom didn’t want any) and it was even better than I imagined. There was a ton of cucumber flavor mixed with lemon, lime and mint. It was made with soda water so it was nice and bubbly. The whole restaurant experience was getting better by the second!
We decided to finish off with the Devil’s Tower. Abby brought it over and it looked just as I remembered – two cake triangles sitting in a deep dish of ice cream, whipped cream and tasty sauces. As full as we were, we each took a slice and ate every crumb. The whipped cream was cool and tasty, the ice cream was great and the sauces were thick and rich. This is just the sort of dessert that Mom dies over because – being a plain eater – one of her favorite things to have is a piece of plain cake with either whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. It was the perfect ending to our fabulous lunch.
Our total came to $45.42. During the meal a manager came over to ask us how everything was going. The NYAJ staff – from the host to Abby to the manager – was very professional and seemed to really care about doing their jobs well. They even had a nifty way to take a survey. They handed me what looked like a painter’s palatte with a cell phone stuck to it. I’m not a texter so it must have been quite comical watching me complete the electronic survey. Oh, and for the record, the dining room chairs were extremely comfortable.
I don’t know if I’ll ever have the Mezzaluna or the Devil’s Tower again, but I know we’ll be back to Not Your Average Joe’s. We had a wonderful time, the service was excellent and the food was amazing. My throwback lunch was a lot of fun and I even contacted my old friend to tell him that our favorite dish had been resurrected! As for the friendship – not so much. Oh well. We’ll always have Mezzaluna.