Skippereno's saucy tradition reborn
Article writting by FLOYD LAWRENCE
Erie restaurant history is filled with the names of Italian eateries and pizzerias that once satisfied the taste for red sauce. DiMichael's, Parenti's, Randazzo's and Chuck and Ginny's are but a few.
Also among the group was Skippereno's, which once flourished at five locations from the mid-'70s until 1985.
Thanks to Vinnie Valerio, Skippereno's re-emerged as if by magic, and homemade sauce is still its principal attraction.
Vinnie Valerio has fond memories of managing a west-side Skippereno's during high school and throughout his days at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. So fond that he couldn't resist evoking memories of his earlier employment when he named his new place at the corner of West Grandview and Greengarden Boulevard.
"It's amazing how many people come in here with memories of the earlier Skippereno's," Valerio said.
Valerio can't escape the lure of red sauce. For 22 years, he was a partner in local restaurant enterprise. He sold his shares and began his new venture.
He uses his mom's recipe to make gallons of sauce daily. It's a light variety, not too sweet, and chunk-free.
I found it to be quite palatable with a dish of "homemade" pasta. It's thicker than the ordinary variety, which is also available. The two meatballs on the plate had excellent texture -- somewhere between golf ball and nerf ball. I wish I could duplicate this consistency in the meatballs I make at home.
Dinners come with either a tossed salad or soup.
The wedding soup is well above average. Filled with chicken pieces, tiny meatballs and thick noodles, it's worth keeping in mind as cold weather approaches.
Based on my experience, the primo item on the menu is the whopping lasagna dish, also made from Mom's recipe. It's crammed with a mixture of ground beef, sweet Italian sausage and ricotta cheese, and buried in a sea of sauce with melted mozzarella -- a great taste and a great bargain.
Also highly recommended is the pizza. My favorite is the standard cheese and pepperoni with soft, mild, roasted red peppers.
"We're trying things out to see what the crowd likes," Valerio said, referring to the changing specials that appear on the chalkboard in the outer pickup area of the restaurant. Among the items that have recently caught on are panini sandwiches, which seem to have become -- at least locally -- popular with those looking for an alternative to burgers. He makes them on a flat bread furnished by a Pittsburgh supplier.
Already popular is the Tuscan chicken panini made with sweet pepper, black olives and cheese.
Valerio's confident that another new appetizer will become a favorite. He calls it a Tuscan artichoke dip made with cream cheese and designed to be spread onto bread sticks. "Tuscan" seems to be the magic word.
Delivery is offered within a broad radius, worth remembering when your busy-day dinner needs might just be met by a family pan of spaghetti or penne pasta with six meatballs.
This is a summary of the article writen by Floyd Lawrence. It has been updated to fit our restuarant as of January 30, 2010