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The Days of Wine and Soppresada

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

THE MAISANO CODE : Where the hell can you eat in Fort Lee anymore? No, really. I’m not talkin’ long table, family-style, marble and granite banquet halls with fountains bigger than a firehouse. I’m thinkin’ a more casual, bistro-like outdoor joint. Know what I mean?


Forget about Main Street today. You got abandoned shells of retail shops on one side, construction junk overgrown with weeds on the other. But no mellow, cute, little eatery.

Maryann Maisano


There was that one place, remember? Chairs outside, mixed menu of burgers, wraps, yogurt with granola (for those of you who like to think you’re in Greece). Problem was: When you did sit outside, you were looking at the ancient ruins.

You know what I’m talkin’ about: That big space that’s been raped and pillaged, sold, then sold again, to Helmsley and then to who knows? Next to where they have the carnival every year.

I remember going to the Lee Theatre as a kid to see “The Godfather.” I remember buying all my clothes at Broccoli — it was the coolest — with my friend, Marla.

Now I’m lookin’ at a teenage wasteland.

I remember hopping on my bike and riding to Callahan’s for one of those deep-fried, split dogs to go (“travelin’,” the cook would call out). Or we’d meet after school at Twin Gables for their famous twin burger.

Both of ’em: Long gone.

Same for Joe Luciani’s Italian-American deli, right there on Main Street. I remember peddling along after visiting Mr. L, a hunk of soppresada hanging from my mouth.

One day my big sister took me to Wanaque’s. I wanted to be like her, so I ordered the same thing — burger with fried onions.

Next thing y’know, my mouth’s wide open and I’m gasping for air. She jumps into action, puts her fingers in my mouth and pulls out the freakin’ onion.

Those were the days, my friend.

You want more recent? How ’bout when Metropolitan Plant Exchange was on Main Street? It was an amazing building, such a funky feel. They’ve since moved over by the entrances to 4 and 46, closer to Staples and the diner.

And I say: Good for them. ‘Cause they gave me an idea.

What if we take the old Metro building and transform it into a multi-level mecca?

Call the place Distractions.

Make the bartop in the downstairs lounge out of glass and place jewelry for sale underneath. This way, when you put your drink down, you’re forced to look — and buy.

Sell healthy “lite” fare in the restaurant and don’t be afraid to use whole grain bread (wow, what a concept!). In the lounge serve pita pizzas and tapas.

The cherry on top: a penthouse tango bar.

Y’know what, knuckle draggers? You take your woman to tango on a rooftop and she’ll think you’re friggin’ Zorro. Hoo-ah!

I can see the ad now: “Why drive to Soho or Noho or Whoyoucallinaho? Come get Distracted!”

‘Scuse me. Gotta go. I’m hoppin’ on my bike, with a huge hunk of soppresada — and a dream.

Critics and reviewers have raved about Maryann’s music as well as her standup. She’s opened for Joy Behar and Ray Romano, and has played The Laugh Factory, Broadway Comedy Club and Dangerfield’s. She has a CD of her own and will be featured on Danny Aiello’s upcoming album, “City of Light.” Judging from the looks of the packed houses, she’ll also be staging plenty more performances with the ITALIAN CHICKS, whose show has been called “part meatball, part cannoli.” For more on Maryann, the group, where they’re performing and how to get tickets, click here: ITALIAN CHICKS . Tell ’em CLIFFVIEWPILOT sent you.



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