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 May 23, 2012
Tom Silva's Favorite Restaurant?

David: This article is from gloucestertimes.com in the "Food for Thought"
section. The article is by Heather Atwood of The Gloucester Daily Times.

Contractor Tom Silva has been bringing new life to old houses with his carpenter genius (and infinite supply of obscure tools and technology) on the PBS program "This Old House" for 22 years.

Right now, "This Old House" is filming an eight-month renovation of a 1935 artist's cottage in Essex. To see Silva on the program is to learn there is a screw for every job, and he knows which one to use. With a sturdy build and generous mustache, the contractor walks up to a problem with quiet but iron command: here's the problem; here's what we're going to do to fix it; here are the materials we need; watch me.

Of the Essex project, Silva says he loves the look, the transformation, and the fact that the homeowner is not tearing it down "and building a monstrosity."

"We are caretakers of these old houses, and we should give them new life and take care of them. The details make the difference in these old places; we should renovate them right. If you can't save the details, recreate them."

Tom Silva is no occasional visitor to Cape Ann: "My great-grandfather owned three schooners in Gloucester. I'm up there on a weekly basis. ... My wife loves Lanesville ... eventually the North Shore will be my permanent home."

Ask him what his favorite North Shore restaurant is, and he answers with the same authority with which he firms a shaky newel post, "Lograsso's in Rockport."

He's quick to add The Gloucester House, Alchemy, Stones, The Rudder, and The Causeway, but clearly, when I asked, his heart spoke first.

"I love everything there," Silva said about the Rockport restaurant serving traditional Sicilian cooking. "Last time I had the Seafood Mediterranean, with spicy clams, fish, lobster, and shrimp. I love spicy seafood; I can never choose one thing on a menu, so I like it when they put it all together."

Indeed, Lograsso's is many diners' secret darling. For 18 years in Rockport, Sal Lograsso has been making puttanesca sauce while his wife Donna has been smiling and doing everything else.

"She keeps us sharp," Sal says. Donna's smile is the face most people associate with Lograsso's; Sal admits he's the only one in the kitchen, and he rarely comes out.

His dishes are prepared with pride, Sicilian zest and a fundamental belief in food with character and taste.

"Traditional Sicilian cooking is very rustic and simple, not as refined as Italian cooking, but every bit as good."

The corner post of the Isinglass mall, a tidy strip of businesses near Rockport's train station, LoGrasso's can't flaunt a view, but no other North Shore restaurant welcomes you with cold San Pellegrino water and warm Alexandra's bread.

Many locals are still hungry for the great wax-paper wrapped Lograsso's deli sandwiches dripping with Russian dressing and creativity, when Sal and Donna ran a deli by day and transformed the place into an Italian trattoria at night. The deli bowed to dinner, and the Lograssos decided to focus solely on Sal's flavorful Sicilian home cooking. When Rockport allowed liquor to be served in its restaurants, Donna insisted that Sal not get a liquor license, knowing their customers loved the freedom and camaraderie, if not the reduced cost of a night out, born of a BYOB policy.

"We go where the people take us," Sal says of his restaurant's evolution.

People from Melrose to Rockport loyally make weekend reservations at Lograsso's; Silva is just one of many enthusiastic fans.

Indeed, I dined at Lograsso's this past Saturday; Tom Silva had been in the night before.

Sal Lograsso has generously shared Tom Silva's current favorite dish, but Donna's smile and the restaurant's intimate, congenial atmosphere are worth racing with the contractor for a reservation (978-546-7977).

To see Tom favorite dish, click here.