Locals know how lucky we are to have On the Way Café in town, and now so does anyone who reads the Sunday New York Times.
By Melanie Cane
Locals know how lucky we are to have On the Way Café in town, and now so does anyone who reads the Sunday New York Times. When reporter Steve Reddicliffe called to interview George Degenhardt, the co-owner on April 1, he assumed it was an April Fool’s joke arranged by one of his friends. But two days later, Gregg Vigliotti, a NY Times photographer, came by to take pictures. At that point, the Degenhardts thought the prank had gotten too elaborate for any of their friends to carry out and looked forward to reading a small write-up buried inside the newspaper. They were thrilled when their quaint eatery was featured on the front page of the April 10 Metro section.
Reddicliffe’s review began, “One of the charms of the On The Way Café is that it is not necessarily on the way to anything. For breakfast and lunch, it is simply a nice place to be. In the morning, there are first-rate blueberry pancakes, fluffy inside and crunchy on the edges, and gently scrambled eggs.” In fact, the pancakes are so “first-rate” that in 2011, a year after George and Grace Degenhardt and their nephew and chef Joseph Mortelliti acquired the business, Westchester Magazine named them among the best pancakes in Westchester. (Mortelitti makes his own pancake batter. The pancakes became so popular that they now sell packages of it.)
On the Way’s hamburgers and wrap of fresh house-made dough, rolled out and grilled for each order and filled with chicken that gets a kick and a goldenrod tinge from turmeric also earned high praise in the Times. Chef Mortelliti, who trained under Iron Chef and Chopped judge Alex Guarnaschelli, tried four of meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda’s blends before choosing the meat that goes into their hamburgers.
I recently had the roasted vegetable wrap, which is made with organic vegetables, sun-dried tomato pesto, and chive aioli and gets my vote for Best Wrap of All Time. The coffee is Bonjo Coffee Roasters from Stamford and the ground coffee is for sale at the café.
The warm welcome every customer receives from the Degenhardts always merits attention, as does the graciousness of the whole crew. The Degenhardts said, “The Rye community has made us feel like family and we try to reciprocate.”
The café, whose capacity is 40, served 288 meals on Mother’s Day, and has become the place to be for breakfast, lunch, and early afternoon tea six days a week. It’s worth noting On the Way also does a brisk take-out, catering, and in-house dinner party business.
Grace is the resident baker. Her specialties are scones, Nutella cake, cream puffs, and crumb cakes, all of which are available to take home. The café also sells jars of locally sourced Let It Bee honey, which is a sweetener as well as a natural remedy for a plethora of ailments.
As for their favorite items on the menu, George loves the organic eggs over easy and the burgers and Grace is partial to the Chicken Milanese and the burger. Chef Mortelliti likes to indulge in the spicy Southwestern scrambled eggs, the Philly cheese steak wedge, and the fried chicken.
When my mother and I dined there recently, she ranked the turkey club as one of her favorites. I mentioned that it was my mother’s birthday and they brought her two scoops of ice cream with a candle, which made us feel right at home.