Mama Ros's is small in size, but big on caring
Rosalyn Dukes says life running a restaurant is more than flippin' burgers.
She says it is providing an ear for some neighborhood kids who need someone to listen. Or it is offering a free Thanksgiving lunch to anyone who wants to stop by “because it is the thing to do.”
Oh, and, yes, there are some burgers to flip, too. Plenty of them.
She and her husband, Michael Miller, own Mama Ros's Bloomfield Sandwich Shop, a tiny eatery on Liberty Avenue that has been their business for 10 years. Customers wander in and out, exchanging stories with Dukes and Miller, stopping for some food or picking up some to go.
The shop has a definite neighborhood feel. On a recent afternoon, a friend/customer brought in a delivery from DJ's Specialty Sausage and Meats, then stopped for lunch and a catch-up conversation with Dukes. It is even the beneficiary of an Indiegogo fundraising campaign to heal some of the pains of the long winter.
“It just wasn't good for business,” Mama Ros says about the cold months. “One day, two young gentlemen were sitting in here and decided they would try to help us out. So, they set it up. We're not going anywhere soon, but, man, anything would help.”
A 10-seat counter overlooks the grill and divides the room that has a row of tables down the other side. For good weather, there also is some seating at a table on the sidewalk, too.
The shop is small, but has a hefty menu with a variety of upgrades to make a customizable meal. For instance, a breakfast customer can start with two eggs, choice of potatoes and toast ($3.25), add two pancakes or two slices of French toast ($3.50), an additional egg (60 cents) and cheese (50 cents.)
For lunch, a run of 14 sandwiches and five burgers all can be dressed up with sides such as zucchini planks ($3.95), mozzarella sticks ($4.50) or hash browns or home fries ($1.95).
The sandwiches include favorites such as the Soprano, which is an Italian hoagie with ham, Genoa salami, capicola, grilled banana peppers with a lettuce, onion and tomato topping ($6.25). Take that, put it on a hamburger bun, add onion rings and bacon, and you have the “O” Soprano ($8.50).
Other favorites, she says, are the Reuben ($7.25) and gyro ($6.50), which comes in lamb, chicken or steak.
Burgers, which Dukes says are among the best-sellers, range from $4.95 to $6.50 and go from the simple to the bacon cheeseburger.
One big burger option is the chance to double it for $2.50. Dukes says she uses the meats from DJ's, a few doors up Liberty, for her burger meat, chicken, cheesesteak beef and gyro lamb.
Dukes says she worked at a variety of restaurants in the area when the former owner of this one asked her to spend a few weeks in Bloomfield “to get the place in order.”
“That was maybe 12 years ago, and I haven't left the place since,” she says.
Mama Ros's Bloomfield Sandwich Shop, 4613 Liberty Ave., is open from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays, and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Details: 412-304-2256
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7852.