The first words Louis Nemes utters after being asked about the secret to his chicken wing recipe are: “If I tell you, then I’d have to kill you.”
As the owner of Bistro on Avenue and the founder of the St. Louis Bar and Grill chain, Nemes has established a loyal clientele over the last 30 years of business in North Toronto.
However, up the street on Avenue Road, at Haddington Avenue, a newer staple called Drums N Flats
has also garnered attention for its own unique blend of chicken wings. But what exactly sets
these local favourites apart?
In addition to letting customers decide between ordering all drumsticks, all the two, as well as choosing how smothered in sauce the wings come out, Drums N Flats owner Dan Ferracuti believes his chicken wings stand out from the competition because of another in-house specialty: double
“As far as I know, we’re the only people anywhere doing it,” he says during a chat in a booth at the restaurant and bar, which is ringing in one year in the neighbourhood this month. “The wings are deep-fried, tossed in sauce, thrown on the grill, then tossed in a second sauce, so you get four layers of flavour to savour.”
For Nemes, the magic all comes down to the sauce and seasoning. At his restaurant on Avenue Road
and Brookdale Avenue, in herbs and spices before being cooked in the deep fryer and served with the
restaurant’s own signature dipping sauce — a mixture of dill and garlic.
“People would come in and say, ‘Why would I go to Buffalo if I could get them here even better than
in Buffalo?’ so that gave me good encouragement,” Nemes says on a weekday morning before the restaurant opens for the day. “Even in Buffalo they don’t spice the wings; they just take the wings and cook it, but we actually marinate them, so they have some flavour to it.”
Despite word circulating on the street about the restaurant possibly closing to make way for a condo,
Nemes says he plans on staying onsite until he finds year, adding he’s been told by customers that closing isn’t an option and the business has to remain on Avenue Road to retain its namesake.
As for Ferracuti, he reveals the secret to his wing success is using fresh locally sourced Ontario
wings that are never frozen.
“You’ve got to start with a good product to finish with a good product,” he says.
As a point of interest, Ferracuti has determined there’s a 60:40 ratio of customers who prefer solely
drumsticks to wings.
Friendly competition aside, Ferracuti admits he’s eaten at the Bistro many times through the years,
and Nemes has also supported Drums N Flats by eating at the restaurant after it opened.
|Drums N Flats||Bistro on Avenue|
|Operating for:||One year||30 years|
|Claim to fame:||Owner Dan Ferracuti
also runs Safari Bar and Grill on Avenue Road since 1995.
|Owner Louis Nemes founded St. Louis Bar and Grill in 1994.Pioneer of offering chicken wings in Toronto.|
|What makes the wings unique?||Customers can select solely drumsticks or all wings. Offered in a double dipped option: wings are deep fried, covered in sauce, grilled, then sauced again.||The chicken wings are seasoned and marinated before any sauces are added and are served with the restaurants own dill garlic dipping sauce.|
|Most popular flavour:||Rajun’ Cajun BBQ||Medium|
|Number of wing flavours:||12 plus four double dipped options||Eight|
|Also known for:||Live music on Friday nights, an assortment of other menu items including burgers and hand rolled pizza pies.||Another popular menu item: the steam burger, as well as a Cheers like atmosphere. Mixture of a cocktail and family crowd.|
|Price point:||$11.49 for a single order 1 pound||$10.95 for a regular size wings and fries|
This article was originally published in the September 2013 edition of the North Toronto Town Crier.