The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 28, 2012

MICHELE M. BENDER | Best things I ever ate – Johnstown edition

Michele M. Bender
For The Tribune-Democrat

— Several years ago, the Food Network launched a clever new program.

“The Best Thing I Ever Ate” features Food Network stars showcasing dishes from restaurants all across the country – savory, mouthwatering recipes that these chefs have declared “irresistible.”

Mind you, these wealthy celebrities travel extensively, making personal appearances and sampling gourmet delicacies. Money is no object.

Each episode focuses on a separate category: Best Thing I Ever Ate – dessert, burger, ethnic specialty, salad, chocolate … the list goes on.

This started me thinking. Most of us can’t scour the globe in search of delectable treats. But we can seek out yummy delights that originate in our own backyards!

Let’s check some out. Here’s my Top Ten.

10. Pigs in the blanket (alias “halupki”). I LOVE pigs. I’ve tasted homemade and “store-bought” (Stouffers Stuffed Cabbage ... blecchhh!) but Resurrection Parish cooks prepare the best halupki ever! Attend one of their fundraisers and enjoy a genuine religious experience!

9. Cheddar Bay biscuits at Red Lobster. As a strict Atkins dieter, I rarely eat bread. But these overpowering tidbits tempt me beyond my willpower.

Dr. A probably somersaults in his grave, but I’m OK with that.

8. French onion soup at Applebees. I order mine “naked” – no croutons or cheese, but even plain, the flavor is amazing!

7. Deviled eggs from Conzatti’s Market. Preparing these scrumptious morsels yourself is a major pain in the dupa. Conzatti’s nibbles satisfy my “devilish” desires without muss or fuss at a tasty price!

6. Kielbasa and sauerkraut at Ferndale Firemen’s Jubilee. They serve it as a sandwich. This savory item makes me happy that the Firemen’s Kitchen remains open 24 hours a day during festival week. Birds in my yard sing German tunes as they feast on the bread.

5. Stewed tomatoes at Memorial Hospital. Looking for a bright spot during your hospital stay? This luscious, healthy vegetable might help keep the doctor away.

4. Italian wedding soup at Broad Street Pizza. I’m a “soup-aholic.” My friend, Joe, turned me onto this heavenly brew. I could dive into a vat of this and float contentedly.

3. Gusto fries at Valley Dairy. I usually avoid  potatoes, but every so often I succumb and wolf down these super-crispy, perfectly seasoned bites.

Dr. A probably rocks his crypt again!

2. Meat loaf at King’s Family Restaurant. I gladly travel to Somerset to enjoy this flavorful comfort food.

Bob Evans and Cracker Barrel rate close seconds, but we don’t have those eateries locally.

1. Roast turkey on holiday buffets at City View. I crown light and dark meat with a scoop of incredible stuffing and drench my plate with awesome gravy. Too bad we celebrate Easter, Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving only once a year. I’d gobble monthly if I could.

OK. Readers! What’s “the best thing you ever ate ... Johnstown?” Email me at or write to me at The Tribune Democrat,

425 Locust St., Johnstown, PA, 15901.

My taste buds are waiting! 

Michele Mikesic Bender is a Johnstown resident and a member of The Tribune-Democrat’s Readership Advisory Committee.


Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.