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Bove's, did they pay off the food network to come there?

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I was in Burlington for business back in mid-January, and noticed Bove's was in the area and one of the Throw Down contestends from the Food Network. I thought it must be worthy of a visit, so I trecked out one snowy Wednesday night when it seemed like most of Burlington was shut down.

I walked in and it was just myself and one other couple at a booth, the rest of the place was empty. The interior decore was interesting and did spark a the feeling that it was a local place that has been there forever so I thought I was in for a treat. I also didn't mind going in on a dead night to help out a local family owned business. The employees were taking bets about when they would close for the night (couldn't blame them!) and chit chatting up at the bar. The waitress was friendly and I have no complaints from the service aspect.

I ordered a Tom Collins and it was dreadful. Needless to say I only ordered the one and then stuck to water. I think they waived the liquor around the glass and it never actually got poured in and the lemon juice also seemed weak.

I got the lasagna since it was "the" advertised item for a Wednesday night and the Throw Down focus. I asked for the garlic sauce instead of the normal red sauce they'd use. While I did really like the garlic sauce, the lasagna itself was treacherous. I've had better lasagna at a school cafeteria before. The noodles were pasty, the meatballs were bland, and I couldn't even tell you what kind of cheese was in it. They served a piece that had to be over a pound and a half, but it didn't make up for the mediocracy and feeling of lost hope. It also didn't help that they had a small TV with a DVD player running through the Throw Down episode over and over and over and over and over while you were eating like some kind of personalized Chinese water torture.

I can't help but wonder how this place even got on the Food Network in the first place. A night later at the Vermont Pub & Brewery I shared my story with the bar tender and local sitting next to me and they both told me they'd never go into the place themselves unless they were ordering lunch for work and needed cheap eats. They said not to worry I wasn't the first victim and the place hasn't changed in years. They gave me he name of 2 other italian places in town try out next time I was in the area.

I guess you don't know unless you try something, so I'm still glad I tried it.... but yikes.

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Bove's Restrnt
68 Pearl St, Burlington, VT 05401

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  1. We've tried some of their sauces sold at Hannaford, not bad. I will say, however, that you're not the first to say their restaurant is not worth the time of day. It is odd, how some places that may have had their day in the sun, are now a shadow of their former glory. Was Bove's ever good? I can't say, but I imagine they must have had something going for them (or been smart enough to hire a great PR firm).

    1 Reply
    1. re: bewley

      I have to say I like their sauces (haven't been to the restaurant). It has one of the (if not THE) lowest sodium content I've seen...which for me is a good thing.

    2. What the Food Network people didn't seem to get is that Bove's means "cheap, huge quantities" at least when I was at UVM. You did not go there for anything particularly good. Maybe its image has changed, but I doubt the food has improved. It is what it is. Pretty good value and lots of food.

      1. Cheap food and lots of it which is what appealed to me when I was a student at St. Mike's. It was never really very good andI now that I have the means to eat elsewhere, I would not set foot in the place.

        5 Replies
        1. re: baseballfan

          Ok this and Shann's responses are about the only reason I can see that would make any sense. Maybe it was a college following that somehow got them on there, because it couldn't have been anything else.

          1. re: scorp508

            Burlington is such a big college town with many broke and starving students. Bove's fits the bill for this group with the low prices and large portions. I think that nostalgia probably plays a big role. Who knows maybe a Food Network exec or one of their children was/is a student there hence the publicity.

            1. re: scorp508

              Actually, when I started UVM in 1976, Bove's had already been around for quite a while. If I have this right (my UVM stint did a number on my memory) Bove's was catering to the old neighborhood that was wiped away to make room for urban renewal between Pearl and College, down to Battery streets. Intrepid UVM kids who couldn't afford BT McGuires, or were sick of Nectars, went the extra block or three to the unpretentious Boves.

              1. re: johnnydj

                That makes sense. I started at St. Mike's in 1980 and have similar memory issues from the whole experience! That neighborhood was under construction when I was there as well. A friend moved into one of the new condos nearby and was a Bove's regular. It was popular with the St. Mike's kids since we had to come down the hill to Burlington anyway. Not much in Winooski back in the day.

                1. re: johnnydj

                  We were all sick of Nectars after walking half way up the hill with a belly full of gravy fries and quarter drafts from the Last Chance--LOL.

                  I remember going to Bove's for the first time and thinking it was terrible and my roommates were like "this is great!". of course, my Mother is a fantastic cook, and owned a restuarant for 20 years, so I was spoiled.

                  UVM '88

            2. Another glowing mention of Bove's on last night's episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate - garlic episode - for their roasted garlic sauce.

              3 Replies
              1. re: LStaff

                When I moved to Burlington in 1997 I asked if there were any decent Italian restaurants. "Boves" was the response. So off I went, once. It might be cheap, but it is so greasy that you better munch a couple rolls of TUMS. I'm not a fan, but plenty of folks here are.

                1. re: LStaff

                  Who was the chef that loved the roasted garlic sauce?

                  1. re: Shann

                    http://www.pitchengine.com/bovesofver...

                2. I tried the Bove's frozen lasagna sold at my local grocer after a great feature on a network cooking show where the owner made the lasgna on the segment -- looked and sounded astonishing. So much so I purchased the frozen product (I never buy frozen entrees) for $8.00 or so and was looking forward to it. It was horrible and anyone else's would have been better. I concluded that they are very good at marketing. The media loves them and they have received high accolades from Kathy Gifford and Bobby Flay. Bove's must send them something different than goes in the mass packaging. It is awful. I would not even try their sauces.......I do not buy jarred sauces anymore anyway. I make my own with Pomi tomatoes as the base (so does Mario Batali).

                  1. I'm afraid I'll have to be a dissenting voice here.

                    I love Bove's with an abiding passion. The sauces are outstanding we've never had a bad meal there. Yes - it's Northern New England "Italian". Yes, an actual Italian person would burst into flames if he ever walked through the door. No, there is no pretense of authenticity or sophistication. Nevertheless, my family and I make a special trip to Burlington twice a year (a three-hour drive) and stay overnight, for the express purpose of having dinner at Bove's.

                    Love is a strange and powerful force.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: woodenmask

                      Well, God love you and safe travels to your beloved Bove's. (HMM, no one around you who could make sauce and lasagna?) Does/could your pantry easily have tomatoes, pasta, and personal variety of choices such as choice of cheese - I keep it traditional - parmesan and mozzarella. Herbs; oregano, marjoram, or basil - garlic and/or onion. Simple Simon -- always better than Bove's .

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                      Simple Simon's
                      744 Main St, South Portland, ME 04106

                      1. re: Chervil

                        I'm not a fan of Bove's but certainly welcome ANYONE that comes to our area and enjoys their visit to Burlington and Bove's. Many safe returns Woodenmask !