Peering at the oversized pair of cow-shaped benches that flank the entrance to Funky Cow in Hammonton, one could be forgiven the assumption that ice cream is on the menu. This is not entirely incorrect. Behind the counter of this laid-back, ultra-friendly cafe, ice cream machines stand at attention below a menu divided into two categories.
They are framed as delicious imperatives: “Graze Savory” and “Graze Healthy and Sweet.” Yet the hook here isn’t dairy. Not entirely.
The defining characteristic of Funky Cow comes in the form of warm, fresh-made waffles that fill the air with savory perfume as they crisp to a golden-brown hue throughout the day. A savory twist on a classic, they serve as the vehicle for a streamlined menu that punches above its weight when it comes to blending flavor and fun.
“A savory waffle entrée has been in existence for many years. It’s a sweet waffle topped with anything that’s savory,” explains affable owner and waffle maestro Ricky Alverio, a Hammonton native who runs the restaurant with partner Joseph Rinaudo. “I created a savory waffle that is made with fresh herbs. It’s the opposite of a breakfast waffle.”
He likens it to biting into air, but with crunch and “an explosion of flavor.”
Cleverly named sandwiches and desserts tease out the many personalities of said waffle. Think: The Funk’n Chicken (grilled chicken, bacon, and cheddar with sriracha), the Hungry Heifer (braised beef with pickled onions and horseradish), or the Holy Cow (an upgraded turkey BLT). Delicious and fun, the Funky Cow is an ideal lunch stop for friends that come down on opposite sides of the savory/sweet divide. Balancing out the menu are sweet temptations, including a custard-topped “Apple a la Mooooo,” essentially a waffle-based riff on apple pie.
As it happens, the space was a frozen yogurt shop in a former life. When Alverio took it over, he decided to keep the ice cream machines, but push things in a new direction. In part, he was inspired by how Hammonton’s historic downtown is modernizing. “When I came up with this idea, I was like: Cows produce milk, but they also produce beef. Sweet and savory! We need to do it.”
Accented with neon green, bold bovine art, and a chalkboard wall covered in customers’ scribbles, the space is as bright as the food. Untraditional though it may be, given the waffle, Lola’s Cubano may also be one of the best sandwiches in Hammonton. It comes piled with roasted pork, accented with ham, pickles, melted swiss and—of course—funky mustard.
It’s something “different and funky,” as Alverio says. It also draws on his roots. As a kid, he could often be found in his grandmother Lola’s kitchen. “For dinner, she would make roasted pork,” he shares. “So of course, I knew her recipe, and I said: ‘Oh my god. Grandmom. Lola’s Cuban. This is it!’” The waffle proves to be a surprisingly sound platform for a Cuban, evoking the toasty crispness that defines a more traditional bread choice.
Alongside the waffle selections, lighter options include a tidy selection of soups, salads, and bowls, but in this writer’s opinion, it’s a lovely place to indulge. “It’s a funky place to graze and eat healthy…or not.” Alverio laughs.
Funky Cow, 224 Bellevue Ave, Hammonton; 609-704-5572; Open Tuesday through Sunday, 11-3; 10-5 onClick here to leave a comment