Comfort Food and Lobster Pronto Pups at Rizzo’s Diner
Originally published 2011, updated 2019. Be sure to check out Rizzo’s website and this post, too.
After years of working in other people’s kitchen’s chef Michael Patrick opened a restaurant of his very own back in 2011.
Rizzo’s Diner opened that year in the former Harry’s Detour space on G.E. Patterson (in the South Main Arts District). In 2014, it moved to a larger location around the corner on South Main.
The menu offers comfort food with class. See for example, the meat loaf I tried last night. I didn’t think I liked meatloaf (thanks, school lunches), but I’m pretty sure I do now. Rizzo’s was made with ground beef and some kind of spicy sausage and came with a heaping pile of extra creamy mashed potatoes. The whole thing was topped with green tomato gravy.
The menu has cheeseburger soup listed, but I opted for the soup of the day, a Cuban chicken vegetable stew. It was thick and had big chunks of shredded chicken and vegetables. It wasn’t super spicy, but it was very well seasoned with complex layers of flavor that seemed almost architectural.
And as awesome as the meat loaf and soup are, there’s one thing on the appetizer menu that you should be excited about, if only because you can’t find it anywhere else: the lobster pronto pup.
Chef Patrick has managed to combine the highest and lowest classes of food into one delicious dish on a stick. The pronto pups are big, white chunks of lobster that have been battered with Pronto Pup batter, impaled on a stick and drizzled with homemade mustard. The taste is a little more tempura than corn dog, but it’s crunchy and warm and easy to share.
As for the space, it’s upscale enough to work for a nice date night, but casual enough you don’t need to dress up. It’s long and narrow, with a low wall separating the bar on one side from a row of tables on the other side. There are a handful of tables outside.
Rizzo’s is open for dinner Monday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (until 11 p.m. on Saturdays). They serve lunch on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hours are always subject to change and reservations are recommended.
492 South Main St.
Memphis, Tennessee 38103