No scalpels, just smiles
Story and photos by Robin Elisabeth Kilmer
Looking for a tummy tuck?
Skip the surgery, and bypass that hospital closest to Gun Hill Road.
Instead, head to V.I.P. Café and settle in at one of the diner’s sun-splashed tables.
The restaurant, which offers a host of menu selections that are creatively – and medically – named.
The “Tummy Tuck” option, for example, boasts of herb-roasted eggplant served with mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce in a wrap, sandwich or panini.
In addition, there are fourteen kinds of salads.
“We try to keep a healthy menu,” said Thomas Larous, who co-owns the Café with his sister. The restaurant was started by their father, Steve Larous, in 1997.
And there are beefy sirloin hamburgers, of course, but also turkey burgers and portabella mushroom sandwiches.
There is a generous selection of vegetarian fare and a “lite and healthy” menu section, which includes steamed vegetables, salmon and grilled chicken.
These healthy options should make the neighbors pretty happy: just outside V.I.P Café’s door is Montefiore Medical Center.
Beyond the “Tuck,” there are such other options as the “ER” with charcoal-fired chicken and the “Ultrasound” with grilled chicken and a hint of jalapeños.
The latter is the one of the most popular, said Larous.
“People like the spicy flavors.”
The Tepper Special is named after a plastic surgeon who used to work at Montefiore, and is served with charcoal chicken, with lettuce, tomato, cucumbers and a side of tzatziki, a traditional Greek yogurt spread.
There are the “Doc” and “Intern” salads, and the “Cardiac” pasta.
Other menu items are named after members of the Larous family, such as the “Mama Maria” panini, named after Larous’ aunt. Typically prepared as a panini, it is served with chicken, mozzarella, basil, melted Swiss cheese, and roasted red bell peppers.
Whether it’s the clever names or the tasty plates, it’s clear that V.I.P. Café has proven its staying power.
Medical personnel from the hospital are frequent patrons; in fact, a special group has a dedicated area inside the restaurant, which is marked by a sign hovering above that reads “Nurses Station.”
“They like to come here for happy hour,” explained Larous, so he had the sign made.
131 East Gunhill Road
The Bronx, NY 10467