Patrons are greeted by a copper wolf in the dining area of the Blue Wolf Tavern.
When You Go...
Blue Wolf Tavern
(located in Fawn Plaza)
1295 Boardman-Canfield Rd.
Mon-Thurs: 11am – 10pm Fri-Sat: 11am - 11pm Sun: 12pm - 8pm
Lounge is open late.
Blue Wolf Tavern - Barbecue Wings
Blue Wolf Tavern - Barbecue Ribs
Blue Wolf Tavern - Chicken Francaise
Blue Wolf Tavern - Chicken Allouette
The bar has just been raised. That’s really the only way I can describe this week’s signature dish.
Joe Rzonsa and Rick Racick are the owners of Blue Wolf Tavern, located on Route 224 in Boardman, and their menu is described by Joe, also the executive chef, as “from-scratch cooking.”
That means that when you order your meal, the dishes involved are started from scratch when the ticket hits the kitchen.
This way of cooking is considered by some restaurants as a waste of time. Those places have most of their menu ready to be defrosted. If you ask me, that isn’t worth my time and it shouldn’t be worth yours.
This week I am going to change how I describe the dishes by categorizing them based on similarities.
Our first pairing is wings and ribs.
Let’s start with the Wolf Wings ($8 a dozen). They are very large and are breaded in a way that holds onto the savory raspberry barbecue sauce after a quick hit in the fryer.
Every bite gives your mouth a hit of sweet and tangy flavor, a nice crunch and then a finish of moist chicken. I would put the quality of these wings up against any in the Valley, and they would probably come out on top.
Although I think of them as an upscale wing, I suggest dropping the proper act and eating these bad boys like a little kid so you end up with sauce all over your face and hands. It’s not only an authentic foodie look, but it also will impress your guests.
The Barbecue Ribs ($18 a slab) are slow-cooked all day, so by the time they hit your plate they are barely holding onto the bone. I really like fall-off-the-bone ribs, but can appreciate the difference in texture when the meat holds on a bit. These also are slathered with the raspberry barbecue sauce, and its thick-stickiness allows for every bite of meat to have a nice helping of sauce with it.
I paired these two to show you how versatile the barbecue sauce is. When you can apply it to two meats and work flawlessly with both, you know you have a good barbecue sauce on your hands ... and face.
The second pairing is two vastly different takes on chicken francaise. I believe that, like snowflakes, there are no two francaise dishes that taste the same. Some are great and some are, well, not-so-great.
Blue Wolf happens to be in the great category with their traditional Chicken Francaise ($15).
Two egg-battered chicken breasts sit atop a small pool of sherry wine lemon butter sauce. The light batter on the chicken is soft on the palate and absorbs all of the flavor of the sauce reduction, which, to me, is one of the best I have had.
Part two of the francaise dishes is what I now consider one of the best dishes I have had thus far while doing this food column.
The Chicken Allouette ($15) is saut ed chicken breast with portabella mushrooms, roasted red peppers and scallions in sherry wine and garlic sauce. Although not a true francaise dish, its similarity in taste brought it into the pairing.
The chicken is topped off with Italian herb Allouette cheese, a light creamy cheese with Italian seasoning that is quickly broiled to get a light char on top. The sauce of this dish takes on the profiles of the porta-bellas, roasted red peppers and scallions.
Each bite punches you in the mouth with flavor and textures. I can’t say enough about how good this dish really is; you need to try it for yourself.
The consistency and quality of the food at Blue Wolf did raise the bar for my reviews. Going out to eat shouldn’t be about not wanting to cook or looking for an easy dinner. Don’t be satisfied with an “It was OK ...” meal, and raise your standards.
Hold restaurants accountable for what you are spending your money on and demand quality. If you haven’t been out to Blue Wolf, make it a point to get out there this weekend. And tell them I sent you; they are waiting to give you the same quality they gave me.
I hear that Saturday night is also a Club Wolf night, when the Blue Wolf transforms itself into a dance club. So if you want to burn some of those hard-earned calories, spend it out on the dance floor with DJ P.