The Man Who Ate the Town Goes to Mozzarella Fellas

Last week, Stephanie and I were invited to Mozzarella Fellas to taste their fare. 

The location is spacey with a comfortable atmosphere. There’s a to-go bar up front where you can watch all the magic happen and then the rest of the dining room has some cool embellishments like sparkly cubes in mason jars dangling from the ceiling. It was nice. The servers were all friendly.

We were told that we were getting a large sampling of their food to give us an idea of what MF was all about.

The first things that came out were the “Fellas Mozzarella” and “Cauliflower Bites.” The Fellas Mozzarella is basically their house-made deep-fried house mozzarella. It was pressed and compact and crunchy, but the cheese inside was gooey. Great seasoning and taste. It was served with their house-made marinara sauce.

Fellas Mozzarella

The Cauliflower Bites came to us (and are on the menu as such) in both buffalo and bbq flavors. I was kind of skeptical when a friend of mine told me about them but, wow. They way they do them, which I assume is grinding them up and pressing them and then frying them and tossing them in sauce, makes these babies taste just like boneless chicken wings or bites. It was amazing how much they really were chicken-like. But, Stephanie was happy that I was eating plants and I was happy that they didn’t taste like cauliflower. You may get a hint of cauliflower here and there and that’s fine. I don’t mind cauliflower, it’s just not my favorite. If I could do this at home, I’d eat much more of them.

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

Next came the “Fellas Margherita.” This is one of their specialty pizzas with a house-made crust, house-made mozzarella, house-made marinara, garlic, pickled red onions, sweet basil, heirloom tomatoes and a tangy balsamic glaze. The crust was done quite well. It wasn’t overly chewy or tough that you nearly lost teeth pulling apart and it wasn’t burnt. There’s something to be said for wood-fired pizza but I believe this was done in an electric oven. I’m not saying I like one or the other better, I think I like them equally. But, sometimes they can be overdone. The heirloom tomatoes were acidic and more of that house-made mozz. The pickled onions were slightly tart and paired well with this pizza. We have started eating a lot of Caprese salads and this was like that but on pizza crust (which is basically what a Margherita pizza is).

Fellas Margherita

We then got two pappardelle dishes. One was “Pappardelle Carbonara” and the other was my favorite dish of the evening, “Pappardelle Bolognese.” Both are made with house-made pappardelle noodles. The Carbonara is made with smoked prosciutto, egg, black pepper, green onions and parmesan cheese. I loved the creamy egg mixture and salty prosciutto matchup. Black pepper made it earthy while the green onions gave a little bite and all of that’s a great thing. But, the star was the Bolognese. It’s made with an “eight-hour house-made meat sauce,” house-made marinara, basil and Parmesan cheese. The eight-hour meat sauce, I believe is made from veal, beef and pork. It was meaty (I know, duh), acidic with the tomato-y marinara and the earthy basil.

Pappardelle Bolognese

Finally, we were served a “Pie – O – My” dessert pizza. It’s made with the house-made pizza dough, Nutella, strawberries, bananas and coated with a sweet powdered sugar. Yum!

After it settled down a bit, owner Brian Ricciardi was able to come out to speak with us. He’s a young guy and has a passion for what he’s doing. One thing that MF is making a name for themselves doing is having a lot of gluten-free options as well as vegetarian-friendly options and he says that’s a lot of his business. He’s proud of that and that he can offer it to his diners. I have plenty of friends who are either gluten-intolerant, sensitive to gluten or have a full out-and-out gluten allergy. You can get sandwiches on gluten-free bread and small individual pizzas with gluten-free dough.

MF’s sandwich selections include a Philly, grilled chicken, chicken parm, a “Brando” (salami, ham, pepperoni, prosciutto, house mozz, pickled onions, tomato, pesto aioli), a meatball parm, prosciutto, a jackfruit filly (mushrooms, bell peppers, sautéed onions, mozz, lettuce, tomato, pickles, ranch), jackfruit bbq (arugula, pickled onions, fried shallots, ranch) and a vegan chicken parm, which must just mean the chicken because it has mozzarella and parm on it and I don’t think those fall under the moniker of vegan.


They have several salads, including the standards and a strawberry arugula salad. I like the sound of that. Sweet juicy strawberries and peppery, crunchy arugula? Yes!

They have make-your-own pizzas and a long list of specialty pizzas. Some of those include the “Camel City” (mozz, marinara, bell peppers, mushrooms, red onions, pepperoni, sausage), “Popeye” (mozz, ricotta, spinach, garlic, olive oil), “S-P-O” (mozz, marinara, sausage, roasted peppers, onions, basil, parm) and a “Nashville Hot Chikin” (mozz, cheddar, pickles, tomatoes, marinara, ranch drizzle). There are plenty more on the menu and remember you can get that on gluten-free dough.

You know one of the things I’m going to look at is the beer and wine selection. He had New Sarum’s 142 Blonde Ale and I really dig that beer. Stephanie had a red wine and I didn’t write that one down. We both liked it, though.

Brian has a great thing going here and he’s a cool guy. We did talk a little about my “official sponsor” DiLisios and it turns out he worked with Maria Di Lisio’s brother at another pizza joint. He spoke highly of them. So, I didn’t feel too guilty that I went to another Italian restaurant. And, really, they do different things so it wasn’t the same anyway.

You can find Mozzarella Fellas at 336 Summit Square Blvd in Winston-Salem (that’s the Sam’s Club parking lot off of University Parkway) or on their website. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And, if you or your friends are gluten-free and are missing your Italian food… this is the place for you. Tell them that I sent you!

Trade Street Diner is a Great Lunch Option

©Trade Street Diner

I walked down to the brand new Trade Street Diner today. It was just a short walk from the studio where I record The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast and the other shows on The Less Desirables Network. The location is where Sweet Potatoes used to be, at 529 N. Trade Street. It is lunch time so all I can really review is their lunch offerings.

First, it was very refreshing to see that of their six beer taps, all of them were NC-brewed beer. I didn’t have any, but when a place has New Sarum and Sweet Josie from Lonerider, that’s always a plus. The wine list consists of 14 whites/sparkling and 16 reds. Not bad at all, the spread seemed pretty open with most popular styles represented. Is this a place that you’re going to go look for 123 different varieties of Chardonnay? No, and I’m quite sure they’re not looking to be. They have an extensive craft cocktail and martini list as well. I was greeted at the door by a nice gentleman who is on loan from Bleu Restaurant until the restaurant is more established. I chose to sit at the bar as I feel I get more personal service that way over just sitting at a table. I like to get a feel for the servers and see how they deal with other customers. The manager/bartender for the day was named Sarah and she was very good with the customers. Very nice and asked about my likes/dislikes when it comes to the brews and food choices.

The menu was pretty full for a diner lunch menu. Apps included pimento cheese and garlic naan, southern crab cakes (which Sarah said were some of the best she’s ever had), tuna tartare and chicken skin, chicken and dumplings and the most interesting thing in the apps, Chicken Cigars “Ode to Winston-Salem.” I didn’t have them this time but I will eventually. They are chicken livers and chicken confit served with grain mustard aioli.

Sandwiches included fried pork chop, a patty melt, a regular diner burger with lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo and grilled onions, a housemade pimento cheese and applewood bacon burger, the Chef’s Burger of the Day (more on that in a second), fried green tomato BLT, southern egg salad, a hickory smoked BBQ chicken panini and a braised lamb “GYRO.”

They have salads, which, I think, are a staple of lunch. A house salad, mixed green salad, Caesar, and chef salad are all available and can be embellished with grilled chicken, grilled or fried shrimp, crab cakes, or roasted salmon.

Chef’s Special Black & Bleu with Bacon Burger

They have entrees, each which comes with two sides. The choices are fried catfish, grilled meatloaf and gravy, a daily quiche which changes daily, crab cakes (presumably a larger portion than the appetizer version) and a 12oz short rib and chuck chop steak. That happens to be the most expensive thing on the menu at $15. There are daily specials as well.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for a good burger and I decided to try the special burger today, the black and bleu burger with bleu cheese crumbles and a bleu cheese and tomato compote with applewood bacon. I declined the blackened part only because the spices sometimes mess with me. Instead of the standard blanched fries, I wanted to try the mac and cheese that was on the menu. Other side choices were okra, cabbage & bacon, slaw, mashed potatoes, dirty rice, pickled beets and black-eyed pea & corn salad.

I glanced around the establishment as I waited, and took some notes. The inside is bright and spacious. There’s a long bench seat against the wall where Sweet Potatoes used to have traditional four and six top tables. This opens up the floor plan a little. The walls are adorned with local art that you can purchase. I was glad to see the old bar was still in there, it’s been around for a long, long time. It wasn’t overly loud like some of the local restaurants can be. The music was a little loud, but it wasn’t off-putting.

Sarah brought me the burger and it looked great! The meat was glistening and still very warm. It stacked straight and wasn’t drooped over, although the next person that had theirs delivered was presented open-faced. I don’t know why mine was different, but it didn’t matter, you could still see what you needed to. The burger was a perfect medium and quite juicy. I left all the veggies on (including lettuce which I usually never have) and took a big bite. Very good. My take on it is that it could have used a little more bleu cheese, either crumbles or in the compote, but it didn’t take away from the burger. I just like to have a blast of bleu cheese when it’s advertised as such. Again, though, the burger certainly didn’t suffer from this. It was one of the best that I’ve had not from my own kitchen in a while. The mac and cheese was decent.The overall flavor was good but it was a little watery. There were crispy browned parts that were a little overpowering. I pour Texas Pete on my mac and cheese and that added a little extra liquid to the wateriness. Now, that being said, it wasn’t bad mac and cheese and I wasn’t disappointed with my plate. I think this is something that will probably be worked on as they go. After all, they are just a week in from opening the doors.

My overall assessment of Trade Street Diner is that it has great potential. I may have been a little skeptical when I first learned of what is going in there, but my concerns were overridden by the reality in this case. I was very pleased and can’t wait to try more of their offerings in the near future.The price points were also very good. Again, this is only for their lunch menu as I haven’t been for dinner. That will happen soon. For you, readers and listeners of the podcast, I recommend this place. You won’t be sorry. If I was rating it on the burger alone, 4.5 out of 5. Very good stuff. The Lees and their partners have a good thing on their hands.