Landmark Glenview Pub & Grill serves tried and true classics with a twist
Story by Rita Savard | Photos by Tory Germann
It’s hard to say exactly when the adventure began. But a faded 1940s photograph of Alexander Sampsonis, dressed in a U.S. Army overcoat while stationed in Germany, is a good place to start.
Sampsonis fought in the Battle of The Bulge. After surviving the horrors of that bloody scrimmage, he served his fellow officers the best way he knew how.
He had their backs. And he made them strawberry ice cream.
Sampsonis worked out a deal with some local merchants — his cigarettes in exchange for fresh straw- berries, sugar, milk, heavy cream and eggs. On the front lines, he gave the men a taste of home.
“Sometimes the best things in life are the simple things,” says Stephanie Sampsonis-Keogh, Alexander’s granddaughter. “Cooking brought my Papou joy.”
Carrying on the legacy of her beloved Papou, and her father, the late Steven Sampsonis, Stephanie and her husband Colm Keogh are firing up the kitchen of Chelmsford’s landmark Glenview restaurant, and showing that an honest use of basic ingredients is all you need to create dishes that are memorable, rich and deliciously satisfying.
Wild caught salmon cooked in olive oil and served with arugula, feta and fresh berries ($15.99). Beef stroganoff slow roasted for three days in burgundy, beef stock, herbs and pureed beets, then topped with sour cream, crispy onions and served over egg noodles ($16.99). A portobello mushroom grilled with balsamic vinegar, fresh garlic and topped with spinach, roasted red pepper and buffalo mozzarella on a kaiser bun ($9.99).
The Glenview’s menu just went through a major revamp, marking the first change-up in food, and pricing, since 2001. While some longtime customers grappled with sticker shock (old habits and $10 dinners die hard), the new menu stays true to the restaurant’s famous staples — slow cooked prime rib, the fattest lobster roll in the region, barbequed baby back ribs that fall off the bone — and introduces a new lineup of homecooked dishes made from locally sourced ingredients that draw from years of Sampsonis family recipes.
Sitting in the pub room, Stephanie pours through piles of hand written recipes. Some show battle scars from life in a busy kitchen — coffee and olive oil stains, secret sauce marks. All preserved in shoeboxes, scrapbooks and file folders. All passed down the family line.
“It’s really amazing,” says Ted Nypaver, a restaurant manager who came on board because he loved the Sampsonis family story. “All of his recipes are really just lists of ingredients with no procedures for explaining how much of what goes into the dish. That part was all in his head.”
After World War II, Alexander Sampsonis opened up his own restaurant, The Continental, on Route 1 North in Saugus. Edith Hodsdon was hired as a coat check girl and quickly graduated to a Jill-of-all-trades at the restaurant, keeping Alexander organized. For three years, he asked her to go out on a date with him. For three years, she politely declined.
“Finally, his persistence paid off,” Stephanie laughs.
The couple had their first date. A year later, they were married.
Alexander’s son, Steven, also found his calling in a kitchen. Left to his own devices, Steven — a fisherman and motorcycle enthusiast at heart — would invariably find something to do with his hands.
Cooking gave him a sense of purpose because, says Stephanie, on a very basic level he “enjoyed cutting stuff up and putting it in pans.”
Steven bought the Glenview in 1996. Stephanie’s childhood memories are full of family dinners, a big steam kettle always full of tomato sauce and “Dad stirring his secret sauce with a big wooden paddle.”
“He was a master of big-batch cooking,” adds Colm. “He did everything big. Laughed big, cooked big — he was a presence that got your attention.”
When Steven wasn’t cooking, he was fishing, hunting or out riding his custom built motorcycle,
“The Boston Butcher,” which was featured on the cover of American Iron Magazine.
Some also saw Steven Sampsonis as an artist. He carved meat with a quick and steady hand, and possessed a seemingly other- worldly know-how for using basic ingredients to create rich and complex flavors.
When Steven died in 2010, Stephanie was working as a restaurant manager at an upscale Boston hotel. Returning home to Chelmsford, she knew she didn’t want to be anywhere else but The Glenview, continuing the trend her grandfather and father began 60 years ago.
“When it comes to eating, it doesn’t get better than the food that has been served at the family dinner table for as long as you can remember,” Stephanie says.
Her imprint is taking those tried and true home cooked meals and giving them a modern twist.
Like her personal favorite, the lamb flatbread foldover ($16.99) — slow roasted in herbs and spices, shaved thin like Dad used to, with lettuce, yogurt sauce and a garlic dip on the side. Let’s not forget the hand-cut fries dusted in parmesan and oregano.
“My heritage is Greek so the lamb dinners prepared by my family will be forever burned into my favorite memories,” she said. “What we’re doing at the Glen- view right now isn’t about losing history, it’s about adding to it.”
At the updated Glenview you’ll find Steven’s signature slow- roasted and hand carved meats (including Yankee Pot Roast that takes three days to stew before making it on a plate) and new ad- ditions influenced by Stephanie’s Dublin-bred husband, Colm.
The popular Irish Nachos — homemade crispy chips baked with Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, scallions, tomatoes, and served with a white BBQ dipping sauce and guacamole — are crazy addictive. Lucky for us all, they come in a smaller, tapas-style size and a share-with-friends size ($8.99, if you’re in a sharing mood).
Mick’s Grill, named after Colm’s dad, is a combo of two Irish breakfast sausages, thick cut ba- con, biscuit, two fried eggs, grilled tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms and — the twist — New England baked beans ($14.99).
In addition to the whopping 18 beers on tap, there’s an affordable bar menu with small side sam- plers ranging from $2.99 to $5.99.
And other home cooked add-ons, like the “soon to be fa- mous stuffed meatloaf” ($14.99), filled with spinach, prosciutto, roasted red pepper and provolone cheese have been Grandma-taste- tested and approved.
Despite some changes — including the welcome addition of an out-of-this-world gourmet brunch spread every Sunday (seriously, people are lining up for this under $20 all-you-can-eat smorgasbord, so don’t miss out) — some things remain timeless.
“The bar has gotten bigger,” says Margie Dearborn, a 25-year employee who was there before Steven Sampsonis. “But it’s always been a reliable old meeting place, where strangers make fast friends. And the bigger it gets just means more friends and memories to make.”
Beer Steins: It’s hard not to miss the wall of steins inside the Glenview. Steven Sampsonis was an avid collector. There are 160 total, hailing from places around the world.
What’s in a Name? : The restaurant was named after the neighborhood’s telephone exchange, which in the 1950s was referred to as “The Glenview” section of Chelmsford.
Wooden Indian: The famous 6-foot carved statue, added to the pub room by Steven Sampsonis, has ended up on patrons’ lawns more than once as a prank.
Visit the Glenview at 248 Princeton St., Chelmsford
978-251-3591 or firstname.lastname@example.org