There are lots of unique features in the East End. There’s Northern College, Porcupine Lake, and a general air of tranquility.
For the past few years, Porcupine has also had a delicious feature to brag about: Narduzzi’s Family Plaza Restaurant.
Now in its third summer, the laid-back eatery is owned and operated by Melissa Narduzzi.
“I used to be a restaurant manager at a few places in town,” she said. “I was just following my dream, wanting to have my own place. I wanted to be able to cook.”
After careful consideration, she selected the east end partly because the area is underserved in terms of restaurants. But there were other reasons.
“People are great out in the east end,” Narduzzi said. “I really like it here. We have a small, but great staff. And then have my husband and two daughters.”
Sunday through Thursday, the restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch. On Friday and Saturday, dinner is also served.
“I don’t think there is enough traffic out here to do suppers every night of the week,” she said. “We do our supper specials Fridays and Saturdays.”
Recently, she added homemade pizza to the dinner menu.
“People like it. It’s good pizza,” Narduzzi said. “It’s homemade dough, homemade sauce. We have an old stone oven.”
Staff at Narduzzi’s had fun developing the pizza recipe.
“There was lots of practice, lots of pizza and lots of eating, some good and some bad,” she said with a laugh. “But we ate it all.
“It’s a thin crust and I think what gets people is the sauce, because the sauce is so good.”
Homemade pizza isn’t the only recipe she has developed that has been a hit with customers.
“People are crazy for our breakfast poutine,” Narduzzi said. “French fries, Hollandaise sauce, maple syrup, sausage, bacon, cheese and an egg. It’s a great way to start the day.
“The taco perogie bowl, that’s another popular one. We have perogies, taco sauce, seasoned beef, cheese, salsa, sour cream, tortilla chips and green onions.”
Narduzzi enjoys developing new dishes for the restaurant.
“I’m a crazy foodie,” she said. “I’m just trying to find things that go together that other people wouldn’t think of. Then it brings them in to try it and they are amazed at how good it is.
“The breakfast poutine has taken off like crazy. People love it.”
The breakfast poutine has is also becoming famous locally as a possible hangover cure.
“People who are here on a Saturday morning that aren’t feeling so well because of the night before order it,” she said. “It hits the spot, so they tell me.”
The atmosphere at the restaurant is a reflection of the neighbourhood.
“It’s very relaxed, very community minded here,” Narduzzi said. “I find that most customers run into someone they know. If they come in alone, they end up sitting with two or three people to eat their lunch. And some of our breakfast people come in, bump into people, sit down together, have a coffee.
“Then they will see someone coming in as they are about to leave, so they come back in and have another coffee.”
She hopes word will spread about the unique dishes and friendly atmosphere at the restaurant.
“I hope to get busier and busier,” Narduzzi said. “The busier we get, the bigger the staff will be. And maybe one day in the future, have a day off.
“But that’s OK, that’s what it’s all about. I enjoy the food, I enjoy the people and I enjoy my job.”
Narduzzi’s Family Plaza Restaurant is located at 4800 Hwy. 101 East, in Porcupine Mall parking lot. It is open Monday to Thursday from 6 a.m to 2 p.m., Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can also find them on Facebook here.