Good food, good friends at Wilmette’s Ridgeville Grill
Ridgeview Grill in Wilmette’s management includes general manager JP Bernier (from left) and owners Valerie Javaras and Dean Thanos. | Lee Litas~Sun-Times Media
827 Ridge Road, Wilmette
7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 8 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Sunday
(847) 251-2770 or see: www.ridgeviewgrill.com
“I call it an upper-scale diner,” said owner Dean Thanos of his family’s Ridgeview Grill in Wilmette. “It’s a neighborhood spot where we’re just giving people simple, good straightforward food and (where) they’re going to feel at home.”
For Thanos, the family diner is like a second home. He and his sister, co-owner Valerie Javaras, grew up there, working after school and during summer breaks, learning every aspect of the business which has been in continuous operation since 1961. Today, Javaras’ kids help out in the restaurant making it a multi-generational effort of the Thanos family.
Though Ridgeview Grill has changed over the years to keep up with the times, the place has always kept its focus on family-style dining. Starting with one small room, Grill expanded into several neighboring storefronts and now seats up to 150 patrons. It offers a small bar (which serves up a decent Bloody Mary), and a small party room in the back.
On any given day, general manager Jean-Pierre (JP) Bernier can be found attending to the regulars. “(This is) a family restaurant that’s been under the same ownership, now in its 51st year so … we know everybody’s name when they come in. We usually know what they want to drink and what they’re having,” said Bernier.
While breakfast is not served all day long, as in some diners, the morning offerings are substantial and clearly have evolved to incorporate current trends in cuisine. So the line-up of Eggs Benedict-inspired creations takes up two menu columns. Try the Mediterranean Benedict, served atop a roasted red pepper with fresh basil, crumbled feta and chives ($8.95); or the Crab Cake Benedict which, thanks to the fresh crab used in it, conjures images of breakfasts at a sea-side resort ($9.95).
Of course there are burgers. But the peppercorns that encrust the hunk of juicy sirloin in Ridgeview’s Black-n-Blue burger add a hot zing and new twist to an old-school comfort ($8.45).
For dinner, the presentation of the BBQ baby back ribs is a feast for the eyes. Rubbed with spices and baked slowly for three hours, the meaty rack glazed with proprietary barbecue sauce makes for a satisfying meal ($17.95 full slab/$12.95 half).
And the “catch of the day” offers a variety of fish at market prices; served with soup or salad, vegetable and potato.
In an effort to continuously improve their presentations, Thanos makes it a point to learn as much about the latest preparations for the foods he’s serving. “It never seems good enough, it’s always a work in progress,” said Thanos.
But when it comes to customers, the emphasis, adds Bernier, “is on community. We are very much keyed into the neighborhood.”
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