Five years after being catapulted onto the world stage, Fogo Island’s food scene is spreading its wings. This year welcomed two new restaurants to the island, both delivering uncompromising quality with cornerstore hospitality.
Bangbelly, in the town of Fogo, opened its doors in late July to a severely under-caffeinated throng. The picture was pure café culture: tempting tiers of savory cheddar scones and double-double chocolate cake cascaded along the counter, punctuated by the clink and hiss of cappuccinos in progress.
Bangbelly owners Caitlyn Terry and Ian Sheridan both fell in love with the community after moving to work at the Fogo Island Inn. The Newfoundland culture of eating, with its sense of informal and welcoming togetherness, is something they wanted to replicate at Bangbelly.
“There are so many beautiful and wonderful experiences in homes around here, “ said Terry, smiling. “Hopefully we can introduce people to experiences outside of Sunday dinner that are well, maybe not as exciting. But we can try!”
While some items may seem less familiar, such as the succulent molasses-braised pork bahn mi or a decadent treat of affogato, there is a familiarity in the kind and eager service. Staffed with students from the local high school, Bangbelly’s fresh energy and generous offerings are sure to make it a favourite hub.
Opening in May of this year, Scoff is another restaurant looking to grow the dining culture of Fogo Island. Specializing in shared plates and craft beer, it’s safe to assume that no waistbands are safe.
Owners Bryce Degner and Celina Parfitt also landed on the island through work with the Fogo Island Inn. After three seasons in the kitchen, the timing was serendipitous when restaurant space became available across the street from their home in Joe Batt’s Arm.
Busy nights at Scoff, the room is abuzz with raucous laughter and pulsating beats. The service pass is electric with plates of glistening pork belly, mile-high coconut cream pie, and fluffy toutons swimming in a rich duck jus. Mouthwatering, gluttonous and entertaining would be apt descriptions of the food style.
“We didn’t want to set up and it be like you’re stepping off the street of Fogo Island into a place in Toronto,” said Parfitt. “You want it to still feel like it’s here, and everything about the experience here is Fogo Island.”
Parfitt and Degner know there’s no competing with Nan’s fish and brewis. Still, they don’t shy away from paying homage to the community they’ve made home. This is best displayed in their use of salt fish: cod blended with potato and stuffed in a pierogi, fried and served with scrunchions, onions, and mustard pickles.
What Bangbelly and Scoff have in common is a trend of food that isn’t just catering to tourism. All owners have expressed commitment to affordable prices, unique offerings, and a desire to stay open through the quiet season. “If you don’t have a community behind you, there’s no purpose” said Parfitt. “They contribute to it just as much as we do.”