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Love Old School Boston Area Restaurants? You've Got to Try the Village Manor in Dedham, Massachusetts

Village Manor restaurant, Dedham MA
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 area.

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” neighborhood.

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 like.”

Joe and Katie Gaffey, owners of the Village Manor in Dedham MA
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 Village Manor in Dedham MA
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, also.

Mouthwatering burger from the Village Manor in Dedham MA
Burger with fries from the Village Manor in Dedham.

Pastrami sandwich from the Village Manor in Dedham MA
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 from the Village Manor, Dedham MA
Salad with sliced grilled chicken, jack cheese, chopped bacon, tomatoes, onions,cucumbers, and egg from the Village Manor in Dedham.

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