Q&A: James DiSabatino of Roxy’s Grilled Cheese

Sandwiches from Roxy's Grilled Cheese
Credit: Brian Samuels Photography
David Salafia

A budget-conscious, bread-and-cheese-filled tour of Europe inspired James DiSabatino to buy a truck off Craigslist shortly after he graduated from Emerson College. It became Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, which launched in 2011 as part of Boston’s first wave of food trucks, and competed in the second season of The Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network. The truck’s success led to brick-and-mortar locations in Allston, South Boston, Cambridge, and Lynnfield, with expanded menus that include burgers, hot dogs, and poutine. DiSabatino is also the co-founder of Whole Heart Provisions, a fast-casual vegetarian restaurant in Allston.

Boston’s best dish: The spicy green beans at KO Pies! They’re secretly the best side on any menu in Boston.

Desert island spice: I love everything Mediterranean. I find myself always defaulting to those flavors.

Kitchen playlist: I spend most of my day working on the business side of Whole Heart, so most of the cooking I do happens at home. I’ve always been a bit of a metal/hardcore nerd, and lately I’ve been listening to bands like Ghost, Turnover, and Touché Amore.

Favorite food destination: While I don’t think they have the best restaurants, I still think New York is the best food city. New York is the internet for food. You want a waffle cone full of raw cookie dough? They have that. Do you want cottage cheese served in a football helmet? That’s probably coming to an Anthony Bourdain food hall very soon. Whether or not it’s actually delicious, it’s still amazing.

Cooking inspiration: My grandmother. She owned a diner in Revere, Massachusetts, when she was a teenager. Her food is unbelievably delicious and as simple as can be. She can cook six courses for thirty people without breaking a sweat. She won’t let anyone else do the dishes. She is a wonder woman, and she’s the inspiration.

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