Dillweedz Cafe serves up 'somethin' special' on Main Street

Date: 3/2/2009

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- Dillweedz Cafe, located at 1244 Main St., may be the beacon of 21st century bistro breakfast and lunch dining in the city.

Healthy eaters can enjoy egg whites, turkey sausage and local, fair trade, organic Pierce Brothers Coffee.

The decor, while eclectic in theme, is almost entirely made up of reused materials, from the original lighting fixtures to the main counter, which used to be the decking around someone's pool.

Even the silverware and the serving containers are cutting edge -- the former made from potatoes, the latter from corn.

Oh, and the food is really good too. Even if you don't see something you'd like on the menu, Dillweedz Cafe gives you the option of creating your own salad or sandwich.

"We wanted something unique," co-owner Chris Marszalek said of his restaurant's name. "It's a good conversation point."

Co-owner Laurie Caserta joked that Marszalek is a dillweed.

Located in the former Frigo's location across from the MassMutual Center, the cafe started out serving "basic and simple" breakfasts and lunches about six months ago, according to Marszalek.

Breakfasts range from the usual fare of eggs, bacon, sausage, ham and steak to specials like Cheesecake Toast (cream cheese, homemade strawberry jam on two slices of toast) and Vanilla French Toast. Breakfast is served from opening to closing.

The lunch menu offers a wider variety, from soups and "weedz" (salads) to paninis and "somethin' special" sandwiches to the classics -- from turkey to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Marszalek said his regulars have created some of the greatest -- and some of the weirdest -- sandwiches on the menu. These specials are usually listed on the blackboards on the walls inside the cafe.

"The paninis are the most popular," Caserta said,"but we make what the customers want."

This reporter tried one of the restaurant's best-known panini sandwiches, the Chubba Hut, on a recent visit. This toasted dish features roast beef, cheddar cheese, bacon, leaf lettuce, tomato and spicy horseradish mayo. The roast beef was cooked to perfection, the bacon was crisp and the cheese was gooey. It was delicious.

The lunches feature side options of an apple, chips or a chocolate chip cookie. I asked for a cookie and it too was moist and scrumptious.

Fellow Reminder Publications assistant editor Katelyn Gendron also tried a panini: "The Chicken Brushetta sandwich is a delightful blend of fresh mozzarella, moist chicken and olive oil on a crispy panini. The combination is a tantalizing treat for the taste buds but did, however, lack that extra something to complete a palpable aftertaste. I suggest some balsamic vinaigrette, which will marinade easily into the chicken, cheese and panini to add an extra zip to the combination.

Caserta commented that many of the cafe's ingredients are made from scratch.

"We don't want to be an 'organic restaurant,' but we do aim to be organic," Marszalek said. "We're filling a healthy niche."

And the unique silverware and flatware? "We're trying to be environmentally friendly," Marszalek explained. "People are becoming more and more passionate about that."

Dillweedz Cafe hosted an official grand opening on Feb. 23, when City Councilor James Ferrera III presented the owners with a proclamation and City Councilor Bud Williams thanked them for joining the downtown area.

Marszalek, who said he's been in the restaurant business his whole life, has worked in 300 to 400 seat joints but likes the "cafe feel." He added that he likes the downtown feel as well.

Dillweedz Cafe is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For more information on the restaurant or to view a full menu, visit www.dillweedzcafe.com.