“I want it to be a neighborhood restaurant not just a restaurant in the neighborhood.”
-Chef Michael Patrick on Rizzos Diner in the South Main Arts District
After only opening 6 months ago, Rizzos Diner has already garnered several great reviews and write-ups from most of the local publications and blogs, all unwarranted including this one. Chef Michael Patrick feels blessed for all this good exposure, but with his focus on his southern inspired menu, the exposure has been earned as more and more people leave praising his creativity and the restaurant’s great service and affordability.
Listening to Chef Michael’s history and background in the restaurant industry, it was clear he had earned every bit of his respect and has proven his culinary passion will never wane. A Cleveland native, Chef Michael arrived in Memphis to help with the themed restaurant Elvis Presley. As he spoke of this restaurant’s short life and the following fourteen years of moving from established restaurant to established restaurant, such as McEwen’s where he learned to “cut his teeth”, he felt it was time to start his own restaurant to finally showcase his own style he’d developed over those years. Rizzos Diner, though derived from his Italian-sounding former nickname, envelopes his vision of traditional southern food with a finesse that infuses his own personality.
Also a downtown resident, Chef Michael could not see his new restaurant located anywhere else but downtown. Right across the street from the legendary Arcade Restaurant, Rizzos seemed to already be setting some deep roots like its neighbors. Although the current space holds only about seven tables, they are expanding into the empty lot with a larger kitchen and an even larger seating space that will be all patio seating, set to open May 1st.
With its one block proximity to the farmer’s market, Chef Michael plans to serve a “Farmer’s Market Breakfast” sourced directly from these local vendors. Other upcoming specials include a Meatless Monday serving vegetarian and vegan dishes, although vegan options are available anytime especially when requested.
My fellow food photographer Chip Chockley, who had already eaten at Rizzos numerous times, suggested the cheeseburger soup on my first visit for lunch. We also ordered the Trolley Stop Special and Avocado Salad not knowing how beautiful it would be to photograph. Although the Trolley Stop sandwich was called the special, the avocado salad was truly something special. I would order it every single visit. Along with the appetizing cheeseburger soup, the combination was perfection. See the chef's descriptions below along with some dinner items I can’t wait to try soon.
~Cheeseburger Soup – "Cheeseburger in a bowl"
~Trolley Stop Special – Barbeque pulled chicken breast sandwich on an onion roll.
~Avocado Salad – Quinoa avocado and chow chow on radicchio
Select Dinner Items to be Tasted
~Lobster Pronto Pup with dijon mustard aoili
~Roasted Duck Confit – Duck cooked to tender with Asian sweet potatoes served in a cream made of coconut and yellow curry.
~Chorizo Meatloaf served with green tomato gravy and garlic mashed potatoes
~Ice Cream Sandwich Banana Split
106 GE Patterson
Memphis, TN 38103
Photos by Sophorn and Chip as noted.