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BOGUE'S ALLEY A neighborhood hub that serves good food and jokes

Published 10/08/2010 12:00 AM

Bogue's Alley, a small market and deli in Pawcatuck, is the kind of place where you can order pizza for breakfast.

It's that local spot where the radio is always tuned to a blues station, the signs on the walls reflect the owners' personalities ("I've decided that instead of a tiny waist, I'd much prefer a winey taste!") and a pig is the company mascot.

But most importantly, it's where hungry folks go to get a good meal and where the cooks often decide what you're going to have, despite what you might be craving.

"We're right 90 percent of the time," brags Fred Bogue, co-owner and chef.

Kind of like the fictional bar "Cheers," many of Bogue's Alley's patrons have their cup of soup or sandwich ready for them as soon as they walk through the door. Fred and his wife, Jenn Bogue, say that's intentional.

"We had a vision of a neighborhood hub with good food, not bad prices and really bad jokes," she explains.

Bogue's Alley has been open six years in the downtown, steps away from the Westerly line. Jenn, the former owner of a pottery studio, and her husband, who has a degree in culinary arts, wanted to recreate a place where neighbors could pick up lottery tickets, a funky T-shirt or coffee, along with really good food.

"There was a deli here before, and when they left, it felt like this neighborhood really missed out," says Jenn.

Fred, with the help of Tara Moore, whips up 11 versions of a panini. They prepare two soups daily and sell them in cups, bowls or quarts.

On a recent visit, kielbasa corn chowder and a hearty beef vegetable were the soups of the day. Two mini cheeseburgers with waffle fries and a pickle was the lunch special and the quiche was ham, onion and cheddar cheese served with a garden salad.

Jenn faxes the daily specials list to 150 businesses, in addition to posting the menu on Facebook. Included in the listing is a start-the-day-right delicacy the deli is known for - breakfast pizza.

Raised in Newington, a family friend reminded Jenn about a local eatery that served the dish. When they opened Bogue's Alley, the couple thought it would make a fun addition to the menu. It's become a staple.

Traditional pizza crust is rolled out and filled with egg batter. The filling is then topped with any combination of bacon, sausage, spinach or tomato, topped with cheese, instead of red sauce, and then baked.

"It's a nice, easy dish to eat. A lot of people buy it on the way to work," says Jenn. "We do two different types a day and sell it by the slice. And it reheats great."

Along with Moore, the couple's daughter, Moore's son, and another female relative help out at the deli. Amanda Nall, who will attend culinary school in the fall, mans the cash register and prepares the quiche.

Bogue's also offers made-to-order breakfast burritos and butternut lasagne, which Jenn describes as "eating dessert for lunch."

Although they enjoy each other's company and preparing new and interesting dishes for their customers, Fred says he has no problem with not serving food on Sundays ... unless you come up to the house.

"I'll give you some coffee and you can sit on the deck," he says. "I didn't want to be here on a Sunday. And if I'm not happy, there's no sense in being here."

Six days a week is perfect for the extended family, each of whom lend their expertise to some of the deli's signature dishes. The only drawback from seeing so many people on any given day is that her memory has started to fade, jokes Jenn.

"I may not remember your name, but I always remember what you eat."