Love Old School Boston Area Restaurants? You've Got to Try the
Village Manor in Dedham, Massachusetts
The Village Manor, Dedham, Mass.
by Eric Hurwitz. Updated 12/07/16.
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The Village Manor in Dedham, Massachusetts proves that sometimes the
greatest dining out treasures reside off the beaten path in the Boston
Instead of traveling the most populated south of Boston roads that lead
to myriad, modern commercial restaurants, a slight turn onto windy
Sprague St. reveals “The Manor” -- a close-knit, working class
neighborhood with well-kept modest homes not too far from the Hyde Park
line in Boston. Just when it appears that the row of homes will
continue to contiguously bond towards Boston, The Village Manor
restaurant appears, seemingly out of nowhere. The presence of a
restaurant is not too obvious, either, as the building looks like an
elongated Cape-style version of surrounding homes with its front porch,
dormer up above and chimney straddling the left side of the home.
Stepping inside The Village Manor brings a time warp vibe, reminiscent
of working class, traditional restaurants in Dedham, Hyde Park and
Roslindale -- some no longer there -- that have brought in local
crowds, like one-big family, over some pizza, beer and homestyle
chicken, steak, seafood and pasta.
The Village Manor’s bar section taps into some of the vintage elements
that have made these Boston area neighborhood restaurants so special
like long-time employed waitresses, a fireplace, plain tile floors,
wood paneled walls, a jukebox, paintings capturing local neighborhood
scenes, and dimly-lit wall sconces for some additional ambiance. The
separate dining room feels homey and inviting, also, and often becomes
just as busy as the bar section.
Add several high definition flat screen TVs and Keno as more modern
updates, and you have a family-style restaurant that is popular in “The
Manor” neighborhood and the rest of Dedham, as well as Hyde Park, West
Roxbury, Norwood and Walpole. Not too far beyond those communities,
however, and The Village Manor becomes a bit of a “hidden gem”
restaurant. Plus, online maps show not much more than homes, railroad
tracks, and a section of the Neponset River Reservation in “The Manor”
The building first served as a food destination dating back to the
1930s, but the current Village Manor has been in existence since 1999.
Then, Joe Gaffey and a business partner opened The Village Manor. In
2005, Gaffey and girlfriend Katie McLaughlin -- soon to become Katie
McLaughin Gaffey -- became co-owners. They married eight years
ago, and have taken their jack-of-all-trades restaurant backgrounds
(Joe worked as a doorman and bartender, and Katie “a little bit of
everything”) to become proud, onsite owners who reflect the
hard-working, blue collar types that have made this genre of
restaurants so appealing and timeless through the years. Joe and Katie
also make sure to take the time to chat with customers -- many who know
each other -- even though the couple wears many restaurants hats at
once that can result in working up to 80 hours a week.
“We offer a good product,” said Joe, about The Village Manor’s key to
success. “We have good service, excellent food and try to make everyone
as welcome as possible. My wife is very bubbly and friendly. I am not
that way (said jokingly), but together we have a restaurant that people
Joe and Katie Gaffey, Village Manor owners.
The menu features familiar-sounding dishes, but also good
value-for-the-money with reasonable prices (like the 1/2 lb. angus
burger special for $6 on Mondays) and often over-the-top portions. The
Mile High Nachos is aptly named with layers of cheese to cover
virtually every nacho on the plate. Chicken or chili and guacamole can
be added to the plate for a nominal charge.
Mile High Nachos from the Village Manor in Dedham.
The mammoth California Cobb Salad is a sight to behold, too, with
sliced grilled chicken, jack cheese, chopped bacon, tomatoes, onions,
cucumbers, egg and guacamole. Joe said that the steak tips, blackened
chicken fettucini, wings, pizza, burgers (char-broiled to perfection),
and mac and cheese remain favorites while Katie added that the
mouthwatering “Best Damn Pastrami Sandwich” falls into that category,
Burger with fries from the Village Manor in Dedham.
Pastrami sandwich from the Village Manor in Dedham.
“All our dinners are made from scratch,” said Katie. “That’s why people
come here. Nothing is put in the microwave.”
The Village Manor’s chef Sergio Santos also creates weekly specials
and, given his Brazilian origins, “will sneak in a few Brazilian
dishes,” according to Katie.
The Village Manor also offers 10 beers on tap, 20 out of the bottle and
many cocktails, including martinis. Katie said that while The Village
Manor offers desserts, “They are not big sellers because we offer a lot
of food and many customers end up taking some of that home.”
One of Joe and Katie’s biggest priorities is to give back to the Dedham
community, including collecting toys for the Toys for Tots toy
distribution charity campaign, handing out candy for Halloween from the
restaurant, and donating to various charities. Most prominently, The
Village Manor holds, along with the Dedham Education Foundation, the
annual Bernie’s Run in October to support the Foundation. A post-race
party always takes place in The Village Manor parking lot with food,
drinks, and music. Bernie’s Run is held in honor of the late Bernie
Logue, a former employee of The Village Manor and Boston Red Sox, and
who was well-known in the Dedham community.
“We feel Dedham is a great community, and we get involved in as much as
we can,” said Katie. “Lots of money has been raised for Bernie’s Run...
Without being asked, people in the neighborhood set up water stands
during the race. That’s the kind of community Dedham is.”
Sense of community, tasty food and good drinks at reasonable prices, a
family-style setting (Katie’s children Joey and Kasey Bertucci also
work at The Village Manor part-time), as well as a successful functions
and catering business keep the Village Manor thriving when other
similar restaurants have experienced problems -- especially through the
recession and the proliferation of restaurants along Route 1.
“In a way, the economy kind of helped us, as people going out to eat
wanted low prices,” said Katie. “We never raised our prices.”
“When Legacy Place came in, the naysayers said we were we were not
going to make it and that we would close,” said Joe. “I thought,
‘That’s a nice thing to say, huh?’ From the beginning, we planned
on being here for the long-term -- like the rest of my life. We put our
own stamp on this place, and people seem to love it.”
The Village Manor is located at 427 Sprague St., Dedham. Tel. (781)
407-9191. Hours: Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m.- 10 p.m., and Friday
through Sunday 12 noon to 10 p.m.
Salad with sliced
grilled chicken, jack cheese, chopped bacon, tomatoes,
onions,cucumbers, and egg from the Village Manor in Dedham.
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