Greeks Do It Better

Roscoe's gives suburban Dallas all the best traits of a great NY diner

Roscoe's gives suburban Dallas all the best traits of a great NY diner

Roscoe's NY Diner cheesecake
Hello, Roscoe's NY Diner cheesecake. Where have you been all my life? Photo courtesy of Roscoe's

In the newly opened Roscoe's NY Diner, Grapevine has a restaurant concept that has been a Northeast favorite for decades: the Greek-owned diner.

This is not Greek food, but instead American food executed in a discriminating manner. At Roscoe's, the Greek is Tom Niforatos, original owner of Roscoe Diner in Roscoe, New York. He's brought to Grapevine some diner trademarks, such as a massive menu, expansive hours and a killer New York-style cheesecake, from a family recipe.

Niforatos is partnered with friend Jeff Lewis, who has been in Texas and worked for Applebee's for a number of years, says manager Wayne Turner.

"Jeff called Tom and said, 'We need to open a real diner down here,'" says Turner, who tipplers may recognize as the former owner of Into the Glass, a Grapevine wine cafe that closed in the spring.

Diners in the Northeast owned by Greek immigrants became a thing beginning in the 1940s. The quality is high but the price is reasonable, making them supremely democratic and customer-friendly. Like delis, they're open long hours, have lengthy menus and a special facility for breakfast, which is served all day.

The menu at Roscoe's features breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are burgers, chicken sandwiches and panini; wraps and salads; and New-England-style battered fried seafood, including haddock and clam strips. There are comfort food dishes like meat loaf, pot roast and hot open-faced sandwiches.

"You don't see open-faced sandwiches down here too often, especially not the way we do them," Turner says. "It's a slice of bread, and then meat, and then another slice of bread, and then gravy. It's really more of a full sandwich covered in gravy."

Turner says that Grapevine has a huge breakfast community, especially on the weekends. "Anyplace that serves it has a waiting line, so it's good to have one more place," he says.

One of Roscoe's breakfast specialties sounds distinctly Southern: deep-fried French toast. "I don't know how they thought of deep-frying it," Turner says. "We have several types, including the classic French toast with berries. But the fried French toast has a distinctive texture. It's crunchy on the outside, but soft and custardy in the middle."

It's just one of the culinary novelties Roscoe's is bringing from New York. "Most Texans don't have any idea of a menu that's this size, and that you can get anything you want any time of the day," Turner says.