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Best 'Mom and Pop' at a Mom-and-Pop Diner New York 2002 - GUS VLAHAVAS & HIS WIFE NONIE

With its kitschy decor of plastic flowers, flags, and decorative plates, says my friend, Tom's Restaurant feels like Christmas and Fourth of July at the same time. For me, it's more like walking onto the set of a '50s TV show for breakfast. Maybe it's the moist towelette the busboy hands you when you first sit down. Or 64-year-old GUS VLAHAVAS (who took over the 1936 diner from his father, who took it over from his father), all smiles and lollipops at the register when he's not offering chilled orange slices or sugar cookies at your table. But it's HIS WIFE NONIE who really works the Mom mojo. If you don't finish every last bite of delicious treats like lemon ricotta or mango walnut pancakes (served with homemade strawberry or cinnamon butter), Nonie is not pleased. She'll shake her head, she'll ask you what's wrong, she'll walk away without clearing your plate. You'll stuff your face just so you won't disappoint her.
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