by Joshua Maloni
My brother and I don't share the same tastes.
He's a purple shirt and green Converse-clad Dave Matthews follower. Me, I'm a black and white and Nike-d fan of U2 and alt-rock. We don't agree about music, fashion, sports, politics or which "Godfather" movie is best (by the way, Matt, it's the first one).
But there's one thing my brother and I always agree on, and that's the taste of a breakfast bagel sandwich at Tommy George's The Villa Coffee House. The Village of Lewiston's oldest restaurant, circa 1974, offers pure culinary gold wrapped in see-through parchment paper.
Whether it's bacon, egg and cheese or sausage, egg and cheese ($4.05 each), the sandwich is a great start to any morning - and common ground for the Maloni boys. The hearty toasted bagel bookends a generous amount of meat, savory fried eggs and melted American cheese. It's best served with a side of golden home fries: chunks of potatoes fried and salted to our satisfaction ($1.25 half order or $1.95 full order).
Tommy George's is a popular place early in the morning. The owner's love of golf (as evidenced by photos and knick-knacks throughout the diner) limits his restaurant's hours of operation. The menu reads, "Breakfast served all day - cheerfully," which, in this case, is until 2 p.m.
Many patrons come to the Villa for its famous mixed eggs (an egg and potato base begins at $3.45 for a half order or $3.95 for a full plate). More than a dozen "fixin's" are available, including your traditional breakfast meats (bacon, sausage, ham), two different types of cheeses (American and mozzarella) and more off-the-beaten-path items, such as hot dogs, ground beef and tomatoes (each ingredient is 50 cents).
The mixed eggs remind me of a cross between eighth-grade science and the Food Network's "Chopped." The mixin' doesn't always make sense; it has lots of colors and textures; but, when properly prepared, it's worthy of a blue ribbon. When served with Italian toast (topped, naturally, with mixed fruit jelly), it's a four-star breakfast.
Now, a third Maloni recently entered the Villa discussion, and thankfully so.
I reached out to Mama Maloni for new menu suggestions, as she often eats lunch at Tommy George's. What do I do? How do I combat this early afternoon appetite?
As the mighty Thor called out to Odin and was rewarded with the Mjolnir, a legendary war hammer, so I dialed up my mother and reaped a legendarily good bacon cheeseburger worthy of the god of thunder. Fresh ground beef, hand-shaped into a delicious, juicy patty and topped with crispy bacon, quickly pounded my hunger into submission.
To my burger order ($4.75), I added a side of hot and crisp fries (95 cents for a half order or $1.50 for a full size), and a cup of chili ($2.25, but less when paired as "soup and sandwich" special).
The chili was unlike anything I'd had before. It was as if chili and minestrone had some sort of soup coupling. It was filled with beans (green and brown), onions and celery, and accented with bits of meat and spices. The sauce was light, but full-flavored, and made a great dipping sauce for the burger.
The Villa might not be the newest or flashiest diner in the village, but, for five decades, Tom George has proven he's capable of making breakfast the most important meal of the day. And, if his lunch items are as well made as his burger, than it's about time we all start spending our work break with Lewiston's most famous golf enthusiast.
Tommy George's The Villa Coffee House is located at 769 Cayuga St., next to Tin Pan Alley in the mini-plaza.