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Posts Tagged ‘Duluth Restaurants’

Duluth, MN – Tavern on the Hill Review

Tavern on the Hill Review

Junior High Demolished

Due to an anticipated major shift in the demographics of school aged children, the city of Duluth, MN went through a significant reorganization of the public schools several years ago, closing some, modernizing some, and repurposing others.

Part of this plan was demolishing one of the two junior high schools (grades 7-9) in the eastern portion of the city, Woodland Junior, which is within spitting distance of the University of Minnesota’s Duluth branch.

The resulting large piece of vacant property and the adjacent woods, so close to the University, proved a lure for potential developers, who envisioned a large mixed use development similar to the Main U campus’ Dinkytown.

Apartments, retail, services, and restaurants are at the center of the plan, with the first couple phases now open.

The first full service restaurant to open is called “Tavern on the Hill,” and is part of the local Blackwoods hospitality group. The debut also marks the opening of the first full bar within staggering distance of the campus.

Tavern on the Hills ReviewThe restaurant touts its locavore connection, sourcing as much locally as they are able to, (which really doesn’t explain items like ahi and North Atlantic Salmon) and offer a very diverse menu of sandwiches, pizza, flatbreads, full plates, tacos and “sushi” (designed for the Duluth palate). Several menu items are new to the area, including fish tacos and dishes with bison meat.

A small ‘market’ just inside the door of the restaurant offers take-away menu items, prepared and packaged to go.

The Kawika and members of the Duluth burger posse hit the restaurant on 11/18, and reported having ‘one of the best tasting burgers’ they had experienced in a long time, crowing about the quality of the meat. Servers offered the burgers in one of two modes: “pink” or “not pink,” and the kitchen obliged.

Craft cocktails and beers are available, and the restaurant is open daily at 11AM, closing at 1 AM, except Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 AM.

Tavern on the Hill Review

Cheeseburger with Fries

Tavern on the Hill Review


Photos, with exception of “Junior High Demolished”  copyright 2014, used with permission.



Tavern on the Hill Review


Duluth, MN – Restaurant 301 Gloria Ferrer Wine Pairing Dinner


Executive Chef Kevin Ilenda at Restaurant 301 in Duluth, Minnesota, continues to wow and educate local diners with his special wine pairing dinners. The most recent event featured wines from the vineyard of  Sonoma Valley’s Gloria Ferrer. The area of Sonoma that Gloria Ferrer has under vine is called Los Carneros, and boasts a climate suitable for Pinot and Chardonnay; much of the grow  from this area is destined to become sparkling wine.

The Ferrer family’s heritage as a grower and vintner dates back more than one hundred years,  and working with local restaurants and distributors around the country (in Duluth, Ferrer wines are distributed by Wine Merchants), the winery is on the road sharing its special vintages.

Ilenda put on his creative thinking toque for the five course repast at the Gloria Ferrer event at Restaurant 301.

The evening started with an amuse-bouche  of a stuffed mussel, paired with Ferrer’s Brut.  Ilenda spread his own wings with a dazzling first that featured the flavors of East  and West Asia and the Subcontinent,  a chicken wing confit with greens, a plum/cardamon chutney, pickled fennel and a Daikon radish.  Pairing was a medium body Pinot-based  sparkling Blanc de Noirs.

A 2010 Chardonnay led the 2nd, a crab onion bouillabaisse, topped with sweet rye croutons and highlighted with a mint avocado meringue.

The substantial third course featured a serving of caramelized halibut, with a celery root puree, and a variety of lightly seasoned vegetables.  The course was accented with Ferrer’s 2010 Pinot.

While few diners at the sold out event had room for dessert,  Chef’s creation was persuasive on the plate and the palate. Ilenda had dreamed up a chocolate and almond sponge cake, with a creme glace of coffee and Grand Marnier.

Restaurant 301 is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Call (218) 336-2705 for reservations or information. In Duluth, you can find Gloria Ferrer wines at fine retailers like the Mount Royal and Lake Aire Bottle Shops.

 (photos copyright 2014

Gloria Ferrer Wine Restaurant 301 Duluth

Table Setting

Gloria Ferrer Wine Restaurant 301 Duluth

Chef Kevin


Gloria Ferrer Wine Restaurant 301 Duluth

Wine Merchant  – Pours and Educates

Gloria Ferrer Wine Restaurant 301 Duluth

Chicken Wing Confit


Gloria Ferrer Wine Restaurant 301 Duluth

Caramelized Halibut

Gloria Ferrer Wine Restaurant 301 Duluth

Full Tables Enjoying Dinner

Gloria Ferrer Wine Restaurant 301 Duluth

Dessert – Chocolate Almond Sponge Cake


Gloria Ferrer rep gives detail on the wine offerings

Gloria Ferrer rep gives detail on the wine offerings



Duluth, MN – Grandma’s Free Vet’s Meal


Among the many restaurants honoring past and current troops today, was local Duluth eatery Grandma’s Saloon and Grill.  Vets and actives could chose one of seven specials for their complimentary feed.

Our favorite group of Duluth vets descended upon Grandma’s Restaurant and went with the “Clubhouse Wrap”, which the menu describes as thick-cut bacon, smoked turkey, tomato, romaine in a flour tortilla with creamy mayo and crispy fries.

The deal was offered at all three Grandma’s locations, and all of us at thank Grandma’s for thanking our service men and women.  Grandma’s regular menu is here.

Grandma's Saloon and Grille







Grandma’s Free Vet’s Meal


French River, MN – New Scenic Cafe Reviews


Food so fresh you’ll want to slap it.

Revisit old Highway 61, and you might not feel like Bob Dylan, but you’ll be in for a culinary treat or two along this scenic road which runs from Duluth, MN to Canada.

Just past French River, you’ll notice the New Scenic Cafe, a plain and simple looking building that hides cuisine that is anything but.

Taking locavore to the extreme, the owners are cranking out “new American” with aplomb.  Marsha from Milwaukee (the cool town in Wisconsin, not the icky one in Oregon) and her beau took a jaunt up the shore recently, and sent along these great pics from New Scenic.

Here’s an earlier review of the burger from New Scenic.

Menus for the New Scenic are online, but change with the seasons and off the menu specials are often offered, as well.  If you hit the New Scenic and don’t get enough to eat? Doubtful.  Head up the road a bit to Russ Kendall’s Smoke House, for the best smoked fish you will ever experience, anywhere.


Slow roasted squash with yogurt, maple syrup, and mint

Slow roasted squash with yogurt, maple syrup, and mint

New Scenic Cafe

Braised figs, walnuts, sage, bleu

New Scenic Cafe

Greens with fried coat cheese, green beans, beets

New Scenic Cafe

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake



New Scenic Cafe on Urbanspoon

New Scenic Cafe Reviews


Duluth, MN – G.B. Schneider & Co. (Duluth Restaurants Reviews)


After a long career of gourmet chef posts all around the US, when it came time to set up his own shop, G.B. (Gary) Schneider returned to his geographical and culinary roots to set up shop in his hometown of Duluth, MN.

Schneider has updated regional comfort foods into gourmet delights at blue collar prices.

A classmate of many of the Minnesota Burger Posse members, when it came to plotting a high school reunion get together, there was no better choice than Schneider’s outpost at 4502 Grand Avenue.  Some of the former Duluth East ‘Hounds had imbibed at Schneider’s previously, and they were eager to try some expanded menu items.

The hot turkey plate, served with mash, gravy, on white bread, with house-made cranberry sauce as about as comfortable a food as one can imagine.

Schneider’s patty melt recalls his burger skills from his first cooking gig at Duluth’s (late) London Inn, the de rigueur high school hangout of choice, back in the day.  The sandwich starts with a third pound of grilled Angus, done to medium, on sourdough with caramelized onions and cheddar, with a side of rings.

The Pickle Roll-Up off the appetizer menu, features a crisp pickle spear, a schmear of cream cheese, wrapped in a slice of lean corned beef, and was accompanied by house-made chips.

Schneider’s menu offers a variety of  “home-cooked” style sandwiches, soups, burgers and appys; discounted appetizers are available during happy hour 4-6p weekdays, and the restaurant has box lunches to take away for people on the go, at work or play.  Might be a good idea to pick up a family’s worth on your next trip to Spirit Mountain.

G.B. Schneider’s is a great choice anytime for locals, and for tourists, an excellent alternative to the crowds and prices of Canal Park.

G.B. Schneider

Pickle Roll Up

G.B. Schneider

Patty Melt




GB Schneider and Company on Urbanspoon

Duluth restaurants reviews


Duluth, MN – Sammy’s Pizza (Lakeside)


As long as I can remember, this pizza shop has been a part of my family’s life, and checking their online bio, I see they opened when I was about 6.  I don’t remember exactly when my family started to buy pizzas, they’d call ahead, my dad would go and pick up (no delivery back then) and prior to that (and for a time after, I can imagine) family pizza nite meant a Chef Boyardee mix out of a box – contents were pizza dough mix, a can of tomato paste and small envelopes of powdered cheese and herbs.

It was pretty awful.  Whereas Sammy’s is spectacular, and a Minnesota favorite, with a dozen or more locations sprinkled across the Upper Midwest, mostly descendents of the founder.

But the Lakeside outlet was our stop, it’s only in its second location since its origin, moving 2 blocks east of the original outlet.  Each of the Sammy’s pizza recipe is standardized, but each offers something a little different than other outlets.  At Lakeside, it’s broasted chicken for as long as I can remember, tho I have never tried it.  “Broasting” is a registered trademark of the Broaster company in Wisconsin that sells the equipment and licenses the method to independent restaurants and groceries.  It’s a combination of deep frying and pressure cooking, resulting in a fried, breaded, marinated chicken that is “less greasy” than conventional frying offers.

I digress.  Our Minnesota Burger Bureau Chief, Kawika, a large supporter of Sammy’s Lakeside, today trekked out to try their calzones.  The “Americanized” version of a calzone usually entails dough folded in a half moon shape, stuffed with pizza-like ingredients, and baked.  In Italy, you’ll often see a fried version, as well.

Kawika ordered his calzone stuffed with pepperoni, green pepper, and mozzarella  cheese.  Although the ingredients were right out of the pizza fixings, and thus adored, he said the dough wasn’t really to his liking, he was expecting them to use pizza crust dough.  He is sure that this product will appeal to a large audience.

And they sure are pretty!

Earlier review of Sammy’s.

Sammy's Pizza Lakeside Duluth Minnesota


(photo @ Kawikamedia, all rights reserved)

(Note:  The Urbanspoon link below is mis-labeled.  The address is for the Lakeside outlet, but the caption sez “West Duluth.”  I have notified Urbanspoon of the error)

Sammy's Pizza - west duluth on Urbanspoon


Two Harbors, MN – Splashing Rock Restaurant

Splashing Rock Restaurant

View from the dining room

A couple hours before the end of the road immortalized by Bob Dylan, US Highway 61 takes you through Two Harbors, a burg of 3500 that saw its rise (and decline) parallel Minnesota’s   mining industry.

You’ll run into the Grand Superior Lodge and Splashing Rock Restaurant a few miles out of Two Harbors, but before Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse.  It sits on the shores of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee.

Kawika and the Minnesota Burger posse headed to Splashing Rock to sample the burgers, of course.

They started with the appetizer sampler, bruschetta, artichoke crab cheese bake with pita points, beer battered whitefish and a wild game satay.  The satay is duck breast, boar sausage and wapiti in a soy/citrus marinade, and grilled.

On to the burgers, Kawika went with the Rock Burger, one half-pound (ground in-house) burger topped with apple wood-smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and our celebrated Kentucky Bourbon BBQ sauce, served on an onion bun. Sides are your choice of fries, house-made kettle chips, or tots.

His companion went with the wild mushroom burger, sauteed criminis smothered with thick sliced melted swiss.

They both opted for the tots on the side.  They described everything as “very fresh” and were especially happy with the in house grind of beef.  No word on what the restaurant uses for their grind.

They’ll return for sure, they said.  The restaurant has a full menu, including pizza (carry out only).  Menus here:

Splashing Rock Appetizer Sampler

Splashing Rock Appetizer Sampler


Splashing Rock Mushroom & Swiss Burger

Splashing Rock Mushroom & Swiss Burger


Splashing Rock Rock Burger

Splashing Rock Rock Burger


Splashing Rock Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Chisholm, MN – Valentini’s Supper Club


“Supper Club”. (Wikipedia) “In the U.S., a supper club is a dining establishment generally found in the Upper Midwestern states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan, and Iowa. These establishments typically are located on the edge of town in rural areas.[1] They were traditionally thought of as a “destination” where patrons would go to spend the whole evening, from cocktail hour to enjoying night club style entertainment after dinner.[2] They feature a casual and relaxed atmosphere.”

Well, I don’t know about the ‘entertainment’, but I’ve been in my share of supper clubs in the Upper Midwest. In Iowa, we used to joke there were five things on every menu: ham, ribeye, chicken, catfish, and pork chops. Period.

Wasn’t so bad, as I remember. Especially in the smaller towns of Iowa.  My first introduction to catfish as something other than bait, as a matter of fact.  Ate a lot of it living in Louisiana, not so much in Oregon, where it’s $8 a pound!

Kawikamedia hit “da range”  (Minnesotan for “The Iron Range”, the nest of small towns around the old iron ore mines in Northern Minnesota), and his visit included lunch at Valentini’s Supper Club in the town of Chisholm.

Chisholm was founded around 1900 and had a peak population of over 6,000.  It was nearly completely erased from the map by a fast moving forest fire in 1908.

Chisholm became a city in 1934, and today’s population stands around 5k.

Valentini’s is the go-to place on the Iron Range for traditional Italian.  Kawika went with the penne with house made Italian sausage and peppers.

Loved it all, including the fresh bread from Sunrise Bakery in Hibbing, MN, also the birthplace of Sammy’s Pizza, and hometown of the late food mogul, Jeno Paulucci.

Valentini’s has an affiliated location in Duluth.

Valentini's Sausage and Peppers, Chisholm Minnesota


Exterior, Valentini's, Chisholm, MN

Exterior, Valentini’s

Interior Valentini's Chisholm MN

Interior Valentini’s Chisholm MN

The Birthplace of Sammy's Pizza, Hibbing, MN

The Birthplace of Sammy’s Pizza, Hibbing, MN

Valentini's Supper Club on Urbanspoon

Sammy's Pizza & Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Duluth, MN – Gannucci’s Italian Market, Part 2, Dessert


Gannucci's Duluth Minnesota CannoliCannoli is a dessert of Sicilian origin, generally a fried tube of pastry dough with a creamy, sweet filling that often contains ricotta cheese.  They seemed to have first appeared in the U.S. around 1900, developed by Silician immigrants with local ingredients.

Today, across the US, the original recipe has been modified far and wide, but the original (sometimes referred to in the US as ‘cannoli sicilian’), remains the standard.

It’s easy to find horrible ones, and not so easy to find great ones.  My brother, although widely-traveled, hadn’t had a good one before the other day, in fact described his first experience as akin to “eating a turd wrapped in a tortilla.”

He was encouraged to try and version at Gannuci’s on a recent visit, and fell in love with the pastry, wishing he could eat “ten of them” at a sitting.

For those of you who are adventurous types, and can’t get to Duluth, or locate decent cannoli nearby, here’s the basic recipe:


  • 1  15-ounce carton ricotta cheese
  •  3/4  cup powdered sugar
  •  1  teaspoon vanilla
  •  1  ounce bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, grated
  •  4  ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  •  1  tablespoon shortening
  •  12  to 14 purchased cannoli shells
  •  3/4  cup finely chopped pistachio nuts
  •  1  cup whipping cream
    1. For filling, in a medium bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until almost smooth. Stir in 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate. Cover and chill up to 6 hours.
    2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat and stir 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate and the shortening over low heat until melted. Remove from heat. Transfer to a small bowl. Dip both ends of the cannoli shells in chocolate, letting excess drip off. Sprinkle chocolate ends with pistachio nuts. Place on a wire rack placed over waxed paper to dry (about 45 minutes).
    3. When chocolate is dry, in a medium bowl, beat whipping cream at medium speed of an electric mixer or with a wire whisk until stiff peaks form. Fold into the ricotta mixture. Spoon filling into a decorating bag fitted with a large round or open star tip (or spoon into a resealable plastic bag; seal bag. Snip off a small corner of the bag). Pipe filling into shells. Cover and chill up to 2 hours. Makes 12 servings.



Duluth, MN – Gannucci’s Italian Market & Deli Review


Gannucci's Duluth Proprietor & SonDon’t you just love it when people take old family recipes and make a thriving, successful business from them? That’s the story behind Gannucci’s Italian Market & Deli in Duluth.

On September 30, 1908, Vito Gannucci, his wife and children arrived in Minnesota from Italy. 104 years later, Vito’s relation Bill Kalligher  is sharing the family love with an old-timey market and cafe, traditional bodega style. The traditional bodega in Mediterranean culture, was the forerunner of convenience stores, offering a limited line of groceries, a meat counter, and prepared foods.

Gannucci’s in Duluth follows this tradition, and expands on it with the grocery and deli counter complimented by a full menu of pasta, pizza, and sandwiches.

The boutique grocery and meat counter are chock-a-block full of quality items, with a “menu board”, listing the deli meats and cheeses available.

Not in a hurry to get home with your deli counter treasures?   Check out the full menu of prepared foods (we’ve posted it here).

Minnesota Burger Reporter Kawikamedia stopped in and had a pepperoni pizza with a cannoli chaser.  He pronounced it the “best he’d ever had”, and that’s a large statement coming from a loyalist to one of Duluth’s oldest pizza joints (the ‘other guys’).

He liked the cracker thin crust, fresh cheese, and quality pepperoni.  Reported he will “return many times.”

I can’t wait to get there myself, and not only dive into a pizza, but also check out Gannucci’s version of my favorite sandwich, the New Orleans muffaletta.

Gannucci's Duluth Pepperoni Pizza

Gannucci’s Duluth Pepperoni Pizza


Gannucci's Duluth Italian Groceries

Gannucci’s Duluth Italian Groceries

gannucci's italian market

Gannucci's Italian Market & Deli on Urbanspoon

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