Mr. Rallo would be proud

Written by on November 16, 2011 in Baltimore Bites, Featured - No comments

Restaurant has new identity, plenty of memories

It’s a little like a scene from “Home Makeover,” only it’s a restaurant getting the facelift.

Rallo’s Restaurant, where South Baltimore breakfasted and lunched for generations, closed at the beginning of October after the death of its proprietor, Vincent Rallo.

No one really wanted to believe that such a neighborhood jewel had closed.

SECOND VERSE, SAME AS THE FIRST? There are plenty of similaries between Big Matty’s and Rallo’s, and a few key differences. All are worth exploring.

It didn’t. It got renovated. It got a little bit of a sports vibe with a Ravens mural and a couple of big flat screen televisions on the wall, new tile on the floor, bright paint on the walls, new counters and some new equipment. But it has kept the old neighborhood character. Locust Point and South Baltimore have their community center back.

Big Matty’s Diner serves the same kind of down home, basic comfort food that kept Rallo’s busy through the decades.

And boy, is it busy. We stopped by a little after one o’clock on a recent Thursday, thinking to avoid the lunch rush. We didn’t.

The room was filled with happy folk munching on burgers and coddies and crabcakes and other favorites, so we took a couple of stools at the new counter and found out the other wonderful thing about Big Matty’s Diner.

Everyone who worked at Rallo’s is working at Big Matty’s. The waitresses, the cooks, everybody.

“Matty”—Matt Gurczynski, is a builder and was a regular customer of Rallo’s. He and his wife Laura own the place now. “We did it to honor Mr. Rallo, and so people don’t lose their jobs,” said Laura.

Mr. Rallo would be proud.

If you were a Rallo’s regular, Big Matty’s menu will look familiar. The omelets, hotcakes, waffles and French toast are still there, as is the Eggs Benedict (still $7.99!) and the sausage gravy and biscuits.

The breakfast sandwiches are the same. The coffee is still bottomless. On the lunch side, there are burgers and platters, salads, soup and club sandwiches. Coddies are available every day. The prices are still downright cheap.

We tried a little bit of breakfast (a cheese omelet, $5.95) and a little bit of lunch (crabcake sandwich, $8.99). They were the same as ever, the omelet fluffy and served with crisp home fries, the crabcake large and redolent of Old Bay. The chips and pickle were crunchy.
Just like old times.

We couldn’t resist an order of onion rings. So with that nice appetizer, the bill came to $21.56 including tax.

There is one major change at Big Matty’s Diner. The cash register area, where Mr. Rallo used to sit and hold court, has been moved to the side wall. There’s counter seating there now. That’s fitting, because no one could possibly take the place of Vincent Rallo.

by Jacqueline Watts

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