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Signa's grille.

I am hoping you can get the Eggplant Soup recipe from Signa's Grille in Ridgeland. The soup is delish, made with all fresh veggies. I love Mississippi Magazine!

Joyce Posey

Ridgeland

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There is a lot to be said for Delta Italians and their ability to cook and run restaurants that last for generations. And there's not a better example than Frank Signa who opened his Ridgeland restaurant in 2012 at the age of 24.

"My love for the business began at an early age while helping out at the family restaurant, Doe's Eat Place in Greenville," says Frank. "I watched and questioned my cousins Doe and Charles Signa's every move, and that of my grandmother--'Aunt Flo' to most, but 'Noni' to me--and all the lovely ladies working there ... This is where the dream of one day opening my own place was born."

The brisk popularity of Signa's Grille's incredible sandwiches, house-made chips, and homemade cannoli grew quickly, and the adjacent space was soon absorbed.

And Signa's Italian heritage is deeply embedded in its menu, from salads like the The Signa or the Cine and Seve among others--lettuce-lovers will find a selection to appease them. And with Signa's homemade dressings, it will be the perfect light lunch or dinner.

"The menu features our spin on several classic Cajun and Italian dishes with a Delta flair," says Frank. Greenville natives who close their eyes and bite into the D'Licious might just picture a Pasquale's roast beef. Anyone will enjoy this amazing sandwich as well as other favorites like the Reuben, the Philly Chicken or Beef, the Dagwood, the Godmotha (roasted eggplant and squash, Parmesan, balsamic caramelized onions, and basil pesto), or the Ricardo (ham, pork loin, fried pickle spears, and provolone). In the mood for a burger? There's a Swamp Burger, Delta-style of course, swimming in chili and slaw, and a 2AM Patty Melt. Here you'll find traditional po'boys, or spread your wings and try the Fontana made with salami, pepperoni, ham, prosciutto, provolone, and olive salad. All po'boys are served on New Orleans' Leidenheimer's French loaf. And the Creole garlic mayo is one of Signa's claims to fame--slow roasted garlic cloves, mayo, spices, and herbs. "Don't let the words Creole and garlic fool you," he says. "It's got just a subtle hint of spice and a gentle sweet accent of garlic that won't leave you with garlic breath the rest of the day."

And you won't find better side items anywhere. Other than house-made chips with chipotle ranch, there are onion rings, sweet potato fries with a marshmallow cinnamon cream sauce, fried pickle spears with ranch, and fried okra with 8-up Comeback Sauce.

Weekdays during lunch, the $10 daily specials include Red Beans and Rice with Fried Pickled Okra; Hamburger Steak with Grilled Onions, Parmesan Mashed Potatoes, Italian Green Beans; Fried Pork Chops over Rice with Gravy; Thyme Lemon Roasted Chicken and Mushroom Rice Pilaf; and Fried Catfish, Lemon Slaw, and Fries.

Aside from the daily lunch specials, there's soup. And if you're lucky, it's the Eggplant Soup. "We didn't have a clue what soup to serve one day, and fresh eggplant and roasted red bell peppers popped out at me," shares Frank. "We have had many variations since, but my chef, Alex Oltremari, just recently took this older recipe and re-created it, adding roasted artichokes, and it has become a staple and best-seller."

Stopping in for dinner at Signa's won't disappoint. The nighttime entrees feature everything from Redfish Dyanne to Madeline & Sam's Chicken Marsala and Eggplant Donna. Other amazing Italian favorites include Chicken Ravioli Alfredo, Josephine's Capellini and Meatballs, Primavera Gianna, Ju & Dave's Shrimp & Grits, and another nod to Signa's Greenville roots with Strazi's Chicken Picatta.

"We do this from the heart, and we do what we know and what is the best around. Our staff works passionately and patiently with each customer, giving them an experience like no other," he says. "We are proud doing what we do daily and we think that shows." Stop in, order one of their family favorite dishes, and make yourself at home. As their motto states, "Welcome to the family!"

651 Hwy. 51, Ste. E, Ridgeland

601.853.0266

Monday-Saturday 11-2 and Tuesday-Saturday, 5-9

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ROASTED EGGPLANT & ARTICHOKE SOUP

  3 large eggplants, peeled and diced
  4 red onions, diced
  3 minced garlic cloves
  1 (24-ounce) jar artichoke hearts (in water), drained
  6 carrots, peeled and diced
  2 bunches celery, washed and diced,(use the leaves)
  2 (24-ounce) jars roasted red bell peppers, drained and diced
1/4 cup dried oregano
1/4 cup dried basil
  2 tablespoons dried dill
  2 tablespoons kosher salt
  2 tablespoons black pepper
  2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  4 quarts chicken stock
  2 quarts heavy cream
  3 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a stainless steel mixing bowl,
place first 13 ingredients plus 1/4 cup of olive oil; mix well.
Transfer to a sheet pan and roast for 10 to 15 minutes. Toss
vegetables and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Once
vegetables have roasted, set aside to cool, about 20 to 30 minutes.
In a food processor, in small batches, begin to pulse all the
roasted vegetables until very fine. Place vegetables in a
medium-large stockpot with remaining olive oil. Turn stove to
medium-high heat and constantly stir vegetables for about 15 to 20
minutes. Once heated through, add chicken stock, keeping heat at
medium-high for about 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally Once
stock has reduced, stir in heavy cream, and cook for an additional
20 minutes. Turn off heat, and stir in Parmesan cheese. Adjust
seasoning by adding more salt and pepper.

Yield: 12-14 servings


photography by bonnie dickerson
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Title Annotation:FOOD & ENTERTAINING: Dish It Out
Author:Ward, Melanie M.
Publication:Mississippi Magazine
Date:Jan 1, 2016
Words:960
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