by Heather Morris
We are smack dab in the middle of Football season, with the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl LVI 2022 right around the corner. Whether you are an avid fan or a dabbler who prefers the commercials, it is the quality of the party food that will either bring you the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat as the designated party host.
Suffering from “host fatigue” and running out of options to serve at your next football gathering or tailgate party? We have some suggestions to help get you out of your rut. Stressing about the party spread for the big game on Feb. 13? Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered!
Two local experts on football party favorites shared some great ideas for savory, mouth-watering foods that can be pre-ordered from their restaurants, as well as some suggestions for items that you can easily make at home. Either way, your game day can be hassle-free and fabulous, and put you in the winners’ circle, at least at the food table.
Salerno’s Restaurant and Catering
photography by Nikola Tzenov
Salerno’s Restaurant and Catering at 1043 Liberty Road in Eldersburg has been in business since 1977. Bruce Reamer bought the restaurant in 1986, and expanded significantly from pizza and subs to a full lunch and dinner menu, bar, carryout and catering services. Salerno’s is now known for its large menu and catering business and is recognized as one of the few remaining crab houses in the area.
Their biggest orders on game days include traditional party foods and platters such as pizza, chicken wings, sliders, wraps, meatballs and sausages. However, some of their customers like to shake things up a bit and get fancy at their football gatherings with orders of raw oysters or chilled peel-and-eat shrimp. Salerno’s also has a small retail market for any last-minute grocery needs, and carryout beer is available to make game day planning even easier.
Reamer knows the way to any true Marylander’s heart is to ensure there is crab dip on the party menu, and the Almost Famous Baked Crab Dip at Salerno’s is widely popular. While Reamer said this dish is easy to whip up at home with crab meat, cream cheese, mayo, sour cream, Old Bay, and a few varieties of cheese (Salerno’s uses yellow cheddar, white cheddar, mozzarella and provolone), you can’t go wrong ordering it ahead of time. Salerno’s offers this fan favorite in several different sizes and containers — in a pie shell, a bread bowl, or a 12×10-inch dish lined with homemade pizza dough. It can even be purchased as a DIY kit to be assembled right before your guests walk in the door. Customers have been known to spread this delicious dip on bread, pretzel bites, cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, and more.
Another big tailgating hit is Salerno’s homemade Dilled Ranch Dip. Sold by the pint, this signature dip can be used on veggies, fries, chicken fingers, chips, or even as a salad dressing. Its versatility makes it a must-have at your next football feast.
As supply chain problems due to COVID-19 have caused the price and availability of chicken wings to fluctuate, Reamer suggested a few alternatives for those who choose to make their own variation at home. Substitutes such as breaded chicken breasts can be used to make “boneless wings.” Just bake, then toss them in your favorite hot sauce and serve with a side of bleu cheese, or maybe even get a little creative and sit them next to a bowl of Dilled Ranch Dip. This can also be done in a crockpot with turkey meatballs, giving your party spread a little unexpected kick.
Take n’ bake dishes, deconstructed DIY kits, make your own meals, or pre-ordered items off the menu. However you choose to prepare, hopefully your taste buds have been tempted and you are ready to set up the perfect crowd-pleasing football party spread.
Let the games begin!
Salerno’s Restaurant & Catering
1043 Liberty Road, Eldersburg • (410) 795-8400 • salernos.com
Nestled in the heart of Westminster at 11 E. Main St., Giulianova Groceria has been part of the downtown scene since the original owners opened in 1986. When Bill Schroeder bought the store in 2003, his goal was to stay true to its roots and keep it running as it always had been. This meant using the finest ingredients, offering authentic Italian goods, and serving everything fresh and made to order. Specialty items are shipped in regularly, including their freshly baked bread from F&S Maranto Italian Bakery in Baltimore, Italian cookies, cannoli shells and filling from Brooklyn, NY, and several varieties of imported meats and cheeses.
Whether you are watching pro football at home or tailgating at McDaniel College, Giulianova’s has several “take-n-bake” items that can be purchased the day before the game and baked the day of, preserving their freshness and quality. Lasagna trays, frozen meatballs, green chile mac and cheese, homemade calzones, and pulled pork barbeque are just a few worth mentioning. Along with the traditional pulled pork, they also carry an Italian pulled pork that is sold by the pound. It is dry-rubbed with salt, pepper, garlic, basil and oregano, slow-roasted with onions and red wine, then tossed with sauteed peppers, onions, marinara, parmesan and Romano cheese — a can’t-miss game day hit.
Many items can also be bought “deconstructed” and put together at the last minute, including their hoagies and cannolis. In fact, cannolis can be made to order, but only if they are eaten right away. Otherwise, Schroeder insists his customers buy the shells and filling separately, and assemble them right before serving, so they remain fresh and crispy. The antipasto platter can also be purchased as a kit and assembled just before serving. It includes roasted peppers, marinated artichokes, two kinds of olives, asiago and imported provolone cheese, and roll-ups with three meats and provolone.
Schroeder said most of his orders for game days are for Saturday home game tailgaters at McDaniel College, but he’ll also see a big upswing for Sunday games during the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl. Although Giulianova’s is closed on Sundays, orders placed days in advance can be picked up Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon on days the Ravens have a home game. A favorite Game Day Special is the famous 3-foot hoagie, which comes with chips and a 64-ounce growler of root beer. Frequent customer Steve McCallister is a fan of that option. “I’m from Philadelphia, and this is the closest thing to an authentic Philly hoagie I’ve found around here,” he said.
Party hosts and tailgaters also order the sweet Italian sausage chili, as well as Giulianova’s three varieties of wings — Old Bay, parmesan ranch, and bourbon mango. Schroeder shared the secret to his Old Bay wings, for those who might like to try making them at home: Use Shake n’ Bake seasoning, follow the recipe on the back of the box, add some Old Bay and bake them in the oven.
Giulianova Groceria is online at https://brothersun.biz/. To order Game Day Specials, call 410-876-7425 by Thursday at 2 p.m. (of any game day week). They are open on game day Sundays for pre-ordered pick-up (at the pick-up window) from 10 a.m. to noon.
11 East Main Street, Westminster • (410) 876-7425 • BrothersSun.biz