Like many Ponte Vedrans, “let’s do lunch” has become a struggle for me. How often do I settle on a regular place that, while good, has grown old? My quest for the next go-to lunch spot is over and my new Holy Grail is Trasca, owned by fellow Ponte Vedrans Sara and Travis Trembath. [Disclaimer: if the completely-biased in the title didn’t give it away, my husband and I know the Trembaths and they are great people].
Trasca’s specialty is the Panino – a rolled up sandwich invented by Sara’s grandmother, Everetta Frasca. Starting with freshly-made dough rolled thin, Trasca stuffs the Panino with meats, cheeses, fresh vegetables and housemade sauces. Bake, roll it up, slice in half and you are good to go. Trasca prides itself on brand name ingredients, like Nueske’s Applewood Bacon and Ham, Farmer Sy’s Free Range Turkey, Ashley Farms Free Range Chicken, and Vermont Sharp Cheddar. They offer over 20 different custom combinations and you can omit any ingredient you don’t want. Each Panino is $10.95. Check out the menu here:
The favorites so far: Turkey Avocado – turkey, bacon, avocado, swiss, tomato, and housemade ranch – is a definite win. The Veggie and the Guac were a hit among my vegan friends, although several meat eaters also enjoyed. You can’t go wrong with the Cuban or the Bacon Crisp Spinach (which also has chicken, swiss, mushrooms, onion, tomato, and Italian dressing). A certain local celebrity craves the Buffalo Blue. The Spaghetti Pie, made with Rustichella pasta, is next on my list. Anything with Nueske’s bacon or the housemade ranch is sure to please.
The difference is in the dough, made with flour from Bay State Milling, which makes a soft-but-crispy pizza crust-like wrap around all the ingredients. Trasca makes the “secret recipe” dough daily. I really tasted the difference in the Panino mini-breadstick appetizer, which was the perfect combo of crispy and salty and came with ranch and marinara dipping sauce.
Portions are generous – I generally eat half and take half home, although my skinny friends have been known to devour a whole one and lick the plate clean. A whole Panino is enough for most middle-aged and older men, maybe a teenage boy. Trasca also serves craft beers, wine, Zingerman’s coffee, Puck’s sodas, fresh salads, and pizzas. The mud pie features a layer of dulce de leche on top of an Oreo crust, vanilla ice, cream, homemade hot fudge, and housemade espresso whipped cream. Deadly delicious. Worth every extra minute on the treadmill. Coffee and scones are available in the morning through a walk-up window. The Trembaths have kids, so Trasca has a fun kids menu and the place is family-friendly.
Trasca has a unique vibe compared to most other eating establishments in PV. Sara admits to wanting something a little different – “We wanted a ‘Vintage East Coast Eatery’. So…we used reclaimed materials whenever possible – reclaimed fence wood from the Cabana Club, 3 inch heart pine wood from the floor joists that originally were used in the Dyal Upchurch Building in downtown Jax (found at EcoRelics), homemade tables (each hand-crafted by Travis!), and the list goes on and on… We really wanted people to feel at home at The Eatery – we wanted a casual atmosphere where people would be able to bring their kids…or come in a suit, enjoy good food and company, and leave happy.”
Service is friendly, but slow at times as they work out the kinks in the system. Unlike chain restaurants, Trasca has to develop its own operating model from scratch. Have some patience during busy periods, most everything is housemade. Given how excited everyone was when Chik fil A opened, I’m hopeful that PV will give Trasca a try. I can appreciate the Trembath’s goal – “Ultimately, we hope to make the community a little more culturally vibrant in some small way.” And wouldn’t that be great thing for Ponte Vedra?
Tip: Some Panino’s reheat better than others. According to reliable sources (a friend who eats out almost as much as me), the Guac was even better as a leftover, enjoyed cold. The Cuban reheated well, while the Greekopolis not so much. Try to plan accordingly.
Pam Ohno has lived in Ponte Vedra Beach with her husband and two sons for over 16 years. She likes to eat out as much as possible. Pam writes for Vertical IQ, a web-based portal for banking information, and Boardroom Insiders, a database of in-depth executive profiles. She also serves as a consultant for Savvy Marketing Group, a strategic marketing consulting and advisory firm.