In past incarnations, BB’s Bar & Grille had been restaurants Pomodores and Zeady’s, both with a roadhouse feel, low-slung and dark.
It still has that feel as BB’s, which opened last June after considerable renovations by the new owners, Tim and Sandra Ciaffoni, he a lawyer, she a nurse practitioner. The new space retains a playful, working-class flair, with Keno screens beaming down from a corner of the dining area and a lounge with even more screens, a scratch ticket machine, and a lottery center.
But once the food from chef Michael Ball arrives, you forget about atmosphere and concentrate on some of the best, most affordable food you’ll find in this neck of the culinary woods.
Our party of four spent a total of $178, including tax but not liquor (a reasonable $7 per glass of decent wine), and were served a sizable amount of food, all good.
We started with a cup of kale soup ($3.75), one of the best versions we’ve ever had of this regional ethnic favorite, thicker than the usual brothy kind, spicy and loaded with kale, chouriço, linguine, and Italian sausage. Tim Ciaffoni said the soup is such a hit, one local regular buys three quarts of it each week.
We also tried the mussels appetizer ($9), a giant mound steamed with copious amounts of garlic and perfectly seasoned, the broth begging to be soaked up with crunchy bread the restaurant brings in daily from a local vendor.
One of us has a gluten sensitivity but wanted to try the fried calamari ($10), so Ball turned out a huge plate of it, unbreaded and sautéed to moist and tender perfection, tossed with mild banana peppers and red peppers, and swimming in a delicious sherry-herb sauce.
Dinners come with a salad, but not in a tiny side dish. Here it comes on a full plate, a giant portion of greens, tomatoes, cucumber slices, and Bermuda onion, outsizing any dinner salad we’ve had anywhere else.
Ball and his staff are more than accommodating. When one of us wanted the center-cut swordfish ($17) blackened, as stated on the menu, but also served piccata style, Ball created a beauty, a slab of juicy fish cooked with an abundance of salty capers in a buttery sauce with red peppers.
The chicken Marsala ($15) was fork tender, sautéed in wine with mushrooms and prosciutto, usually served over a choice of pasta. Our Marsala lover didn’t want the pasta, and instead got a huge side of roasted, seasoned red potatoes at no extra cost.
The grilled salmon ($16) was another whopping dish, flaky and moist, and grilled with apple cider and topped with apple slices, a rather unusual and most tasty version of an old favorite.
The biggest dish of the night was the Saturday-night special, a king’s cut of prime rib ($28). We asked our server, Mardiette, how big it was and she joked, “Ever see the Flintstones?” referencing the cartoon program’s opening where a brontosaurus steak tips over the caveman’s car. She wasn’t kidding. This thing was huge, completely filling a large oval platter and forcing the red potatoes and sweet butternut squash sides to be served on separate dishes.
It was one of the best prime ribs we’ve ever tasted, one marinated for days and slow-roasted, a giant, bone-in hunk of nicely seasoned, medium-rare tenderness that could not be finished in one sitting, and made for a fine lunch the next day. Taking home leftovers is the rule of the night at BB’s.
For dessert, we went with house-made tiramisu ($5) and grape nut pudding ($4), both seemingly priced low for the size of each, and each having a decent if not outstanding flavor. The dessert offerings here aren’t many, with a brownie sundae and apple crisp with oatmeal and brown sugar streusel being the other options, but after appetizer and dinner portions as big as you get here, you’ll likely not have room for dessert anyway.
Other favorites here include the thin-crust pizza, seafood Diablo, and home-made meatloaf. Specials abound, such as early-bird half-priced appetizers.
Getting into the restaurant business with a limited background was a gamble, said Ciaffoni, whose only previous experience was working with an uncle in Pittsburgh restaurants years ago. But it’s in his blood, and now he and his wife are fixtures at their business — he going table to table to greet diners, she in charge of the wait staff and other responsibilities.
“We’re here all the time,” he said, “and a plus is we’re spending more time together than ever.”
He added that the business is ideally located for future growth. A Walmart and Marriott hotel are to be built nearby, and just across the street is the Wareham Crossing shopping center.
Down-home and low-key is the flavor of the place, with interesting touches like a Yamaha Disklavier white player piano between the dining area and lounge tinkling away by itself, and on Saturday nights, the warbling of karaoke enthusiasts coming from the bar.
And sure, you can play the lottery while you dine, but that’s not a good bet. More of a sure thing is the amazingly good food at affordable prices.Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.