Pesce & Pasta
Sometimes you find a place that feels like home and Garlic John’s is one of those places. The atmosphere is friendly and the menu is traditional. We ducked in before they opened last week for a chance to chat with chef and co-owner Sue Anagnos.
“Dick Comollo opened Garlic John’s almost fifty years ago. Then, when Frank (Shattuck) and I were working at Cobblestone’s (now the Perfect Wife) the second owner, Edgar Greason, decided he wanted to sell. We had a good friend from Connecticut who was interested in investing in a business up here so we got together and decided that he would invest the capital and Frank and I would work it.”
Sue and Frank have been ‘working’ the house for thirty-four years now, she in the back, and he, at the front. “Frank grew up in New Jersey and he comes from a long line of restaurateurs. Lots of nights here, you’ll find him behind the bar. It’s kind of throwback. Before he came to Vermont, he bartended in and around New York City at some wonderful places, like The Russian Tearoom.” We love those iconic places.
Vermont or Bust.
“I studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. After graduation, I went out west with my sister where I learned to ski. When I came back east, I drove up to Vermont. I literally drove one end of the state to the other, exploring towns, and restaurants. When I got back home, I had a message from The Buttery, which was this classy little lunch place on the third floor of the old Jelly Mill.”
“Pat Nelson was the owner at the time. She made all the soups, which were fabulous, and I made the lunch plates and desserts. Well, all of the desserts except the carrot cake, which Mrs. Parker made — best I’ve ever had!”
“One of my earliest and dearest food memories has to be making bread with my Italian Aunt Lucy. I loved to help her though I suspect she loved me kneading (and kneading) the dough! Christmas Eve stands out as a memory, too. We’d have seven different fishes, and pasta, and antipasto. Aunt Lucy made pizza with garlic, oil, and anchovies, and a special dessert; her twist on Zeppoli. It had raisins in the dough and was drizzled with honey when done. Delicious! She also made one of my favorite dishes, Chicken with Olives & Mint, which I sometimes run as a special at Garlic Johns.”
“When I travel, I explore restaurants and cafes. At home, I poke through magazines and cookbooks, and I work closely with my vendors. Home is my place to experiment with new recipes. We eat a lot of pasta and produce, and I grill all summer long.” Wouldn’t you like to be Sue’s neighbor? “I love people like Mario Batali and Giada De Laurentiis. And ironically enough, my nephew. He’s an incredible, innovative chef! And at Garlic John’s, most of the things I do rely on just a few simple ingredients. When I graduated from CIA in 1975, everything was very french, and sauced.”
“As I developed as a chef, I gravitated toward straightforward flavors. Give me something clean and fresh any day.”
Easy. “Fish. Fresh veggies. Fresh basil, and rosemary.”
A Signature Dish?
“My father’s family is from Sicily, which is really lush with fruits and vegetables, and flowers, and fish. But at Garlic John’s, we cover the whole country on our menu. You’ll find southern dishes, and cream sauces, which are more northern, and you’ll find vernacular dishes like the Saltimbocca, that are popular across the regions. If a guest asks for my recommendation, I ask if they prefer chicken, seafood, etc. People love the Parmesan Crusted Sole and the Chicken and Sausage Scarpariello, with a little bit of spice.”
And for your “last supper?”
“When I was out visiting my nephew in San Francisco, we had a meal at a restaurant called Sushi Groove. It was THE best! So my last supper has to be sushi. I love it as much as I love Italian food. I’ll never get tired of either.”
If you let someone else cook?
“If I can choose around town, it’s always going to be Chantecleer or Mistrals. They’re my favorite places.”
When you’re not working you are:
“In the garden! I garden all summer, and I bring lots of produce into the kitchen.” If Sue’s not in the kitchen, or in the garden, you might find her on the golf course. “I love to golf. Way back, when I was working at the Wilburton Inn, Tom Farley (who was the manager then) came downstairs one morning and said… “Hey Sue, I just won a set of golf clubs. Go ahead and take mine and learn to play!” Frank was an avid golfer and he took me out, I took a few lessons, and I got hooked. Equinox is a beautiful course right here in town; a par 71 with gorgeous views and terrain that works for all skill levels. Stratton’s course is really nice, and it’s 27 holes so you can make a day of it.”
It’s what we love about Manchester. You can golf, hike, and explore all day. Then stop into a place like Garlic John’s. Have a seat at the bar, talk with Frank, enjoy cocktails, and an appetizer. Or, find a cozy table in the dining room and hunker down with tried and true family recipes, and friends.
Check out the Restaurant
Located on Depot Street in Manchester, this landmark restaurant is loved by locals and visitors alike. Click through to find more photos, their website and menu links. Also a map, so you can plan your visit. Say hello to Chef Sue for us!Garlic Johns
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