Joni Woolf: Pizza rediscovered
Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, February 2, 2016
When I sat down with Steve Miller, owner of Little Brother’s Bistro and Cafe in the Windsor Hotel’s southwest corner, my first question was about the past. I remembered when he started the Bistro in the small restaurant space in The Maze, and I especially remembered an item called Little Brother’s Pizza. It featured the thinnest of crusts — which was always very crisp — and was topped with basil pesto; red, yellow and orange bell peppers; roasted red onions; grilled portabella mushrooms; parmesan and feta cheeses — delicious! When I first moved to Americus, my friend (the late) Sarah Jo Roush would meet me there, and we would have one of those pizzas.
I had missed the little pizza since the restaurant’s move, several years ago, to this larger, more accommodating location. Of course it never occurred to me to ask why it wasn’t on the menu; I just ordered whatever new thing appealed to me. Well. As it turns out, Steve never stopped making that delectable dish; he just changed its name — kind of like when you first get married and no one can find you with that new name. While the interview continued, someone was in the kitchen whipping up what is now called “The Mediterranean.” I was not shy: when it was presented to our table, I ate three-fourths of it (though I had already had lunch). It was as good in reality as it was in memory.
Of course, there are many fine features on the menu — one that has expanded substantially since his early days. His salad offerings include a Chicken Caesar Salad, Traditional Greek Salad, and a Chicken Salad Plate, which is what I often order. It comes — as all his orders do — with that delicious little pecan muffin, made daily from a recipe given him by Amelia Pat Cohen. When a dieting friend passes on hers, I take it, and have two! If you should be looking for the former Little Brother’s Pizza, look under the list headed “Flatbread Sandwiches” and there it is: The Mediterranean, along with several other selections. Then under a heading called “Sandwiches and Wraps,” there is, among a long list, a sandwich called ABCLT. Be brave, as I was recently, and try it. It is delicious (A is for avocado, B is for bacon, C is for cheddar, L is for lettuce and T is for tomato).
Steve has recently expanded his business hours to 5 p.m. and offers beer and wine. He also offers mimosas, believing they will be a nice addition to brunch-type meals. His quiches, by the way, are made on site, and a recipe follows for a simple, hearty, spinach and bacon quiche — perfect with a salad and one of those afore-mentioned mimosas.
Several weeks back, we wrote about the new style of entertaining that younger people, especially, are fond of — the casual, around-the-grill gathering for folks too busy to spend hours over the stove preparing for a seated dinner. Steve reports that the largest growth in his catering business is in the area of grilling. He offers a form of grilling called Argentine Asado — based on a manner of entertaining that is wildly popular in that country, where everything is cooked on the grill: beef loin, vegetables, appetizers and breads, as friends enjoy a glass of wine and watch the process. He also caters weddings, receptions and other events where the food is delivered to the site and served there by his staff. Steve Miller is a very busy man.
Many restaurant owners will not share recipes, but Steve was generous in describing the ingredients in many of the things he offers at Little Brother’s Bistro. The spinach and bacon quiche recipe that follows is among his simplest recipes — and among his tastiest menu items.
SPINACH AND BACON QUICHE
1 deep dish, 8-inch pie crust
1 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
1 cup cheddar and jack cheese, mixed
2 cups beaten eggs
2 cups chopped spinach
Mix all together and bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes. Serve warm. (Steve serves this with a side salad — and of course with the little pecan muffin.)
In the weeks and months to come, we’ll be talking with owners of restaurants and cafes occasionally, studying their selections, offering comments on what’s tops on the menu, and — when they are agreeable — securing a recipe for something you’ve wanted to reproduce at home. But let’s be realistic: once in a while, it is a pleasant thing to eat delicious food that someone else has prepared, knowing you can walk away from the table, and that the dirty dishes won’t be waiting when you get home.
Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org