Sitting right off I-164 in a squat building with a Santa stationed on the roof is House of Como, an unusual restaurant with loyal customers. Regulars like John Conrad travel an hour just to eat their favorite Lebanese, American and Italian meals. “I come for the rack of lamb,” Conrad says. “And the service is great.”
He’s not the only one who thinks so. While filming “A League of Their Own” in the early ‘90s, Penny Marshall, Tom Hanks and Madonna dined at Como every two or three days. Como cook Marian White, now 81, says Marshall even had her birthday party there.
The first House of Como opened in 1960 but later burned down. The owners rebuilt the restaurant at the current location eight years later. Staff member and local historian Steve Alley says there are many legends about the origin of the restaurant’s quirky Christmas decorations. But if you ask him, they are in honor of owner George Hage’s sister, who had a Christmas tree year-round in her home.
Hage’s wife, Martha, who has maintained the dive-like atmosphere and quality of the food, convinced her husband to let her run the place instead of selling it before he died. And she’s glad she did.
Order like a regular
After more than 40 years as a cook, White has made her mark at House of Como. If you’re looking to try something new, you can’t go wrong with any one of her signature dishes.
Steak: One of the entrées that keeps the customers coming back. Waitress Robyn Bentley idolizes White for her ability to cook every steak to the perfect degree.
Djage: Chicken baked in butter and cinnamon, served with ground sirloin and rice. Once you order it, Martha warns, you might not want to try anything else.
Yebra Malfoof: Three cabbage rolls stuffed with meat and rice, served with a small, cooked tomato in broth. Eat a piece of the roll with a piece of the tomato for a harmonious bite.
Arabian Salad: Served with warm, floury flatbread and drizzled with lemon-mint dressing, Bentley advises newcomers to roll it up in the buttered flatbread.
Bread pudding: Piping hot and smothered in White’s special whiskey sauce, this gooey dessert tastes like cinnamon caramel cake.