-On the Way Café co-owners Chef Joseph Mortelliti, Grace and George Degenhardt
On the Way Café’s Journey
By Janice Llanes Fabry
Co-owners George and Grace Degenhardt and Joseph Mortelliti are delighted that their On the Way Café has become the community’s routine stop on the way to wherever they’re going. Despite being tucked away behind Playland Market and the Sunoco gas station off I-95, On the Way has a great following. It’s where customers can count on a consistently delicious breakfast or lunch, as well as a newly brewed pot of coffee made with freshly ground beans from a local roaster.
“We’re so happy to be part of the Rye family,” said George. “We have seen so many kids grow up here. Parents have brought in babies as young as 2-weeks-old.”
“Kids 3 to 13 love to come in with their families,” added Grace, “Those are the ages when memories are made.”
On the Way Café certainly welcomes families and kids with open arms. On weekdays, one will also find moms congregating after dropping off their kids at school and customers conducting business over a hot meal. While on Saturdays families squeeze in a meal at the café in between activities, on Sundays the church crowd religiously comes in every 45 minutes.
It has been almost ten years since the Degenhardts and Grace’s cousin Joseph took over the luncheonette, first established in the 1980s. About their recipe for success, George quipped, “It could be luck or stubbornness. Besides we’re family-owned and operated, we provide a nice atmosphere, and we serve great food.”
Indeed, Joseph is an accomplished chef who trained at the Institute of Culinary Education and worked with Michelin-starred chefs at popular Manhattan restaurants. He uses only local and organic products whenever possible.
“The fact that we buy our ingredients from specialized purveyors who are the best at what they do sets us apart,” he said.
The organic eggs come from Feather Ridge Farm, the maple syrup from Dover Plains, both in upstate New York, and the sourdough bread is especially made for the café in the Bronx. Their signature burger is made of LaFrieda meat (originally from Brooklyn, now in New Jersey).
“It is so good that all it needs is salt, pepper, and flame,” chimed in both George and Grace as a couple married for 30 years would.
Although Joe appreciates simplicity, he also loves getting creative with unusual combinations. “Who knew that people would love a jumbo lump crab and goat cheese omelet, but that is one of our popular dishes,” he said about one of his many specials that have become menu staples.
Other big sellers are parmesan and chive scrambled eggs with crispy pancetta, as well as “eggs in purgatory,” poached eggs in tomato sauce on Tuscan bread. Customers swear that On the Way’s Philly cheese steak sandwich, made with thinly sliced LaFrieda rib-eye steak and spatula-chopped ingredients, is better than those in Philadelphia.
There’s a reason kids call On the Way “the pancake store.” The chef uses an old family recipe that has his country style, banana walnut, and blueberry pancakes flying out the door. Grace’s homemade scones and crumb cake are awfully good, too. A full catering menu is available.
<On the Way Café, 34 Ridgeland Terrace, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 7-2:30 and Sunday from 7-1:30. Reservations are recommended on weekends through Yelp or by calling 924-2233.>