If you like TV or movies (especially funny ones), you definitely know Rob Corddry’s work. He was a long-time Daily Show correspondent, the star (and co-creator) of Children’s Hospital, and has acted in films like Hot Tub Time Machine and the freshly released rom-com Dog Days. He’s also set to return alongside Dwayne Johnson for the fourth season of Ballers, which premieres on HBO this Sunday at 10 PM.
You know him. You probably even enjoy him, considering that you clicked on this article. But do you know his thoughts on egg creams and cubed foods? Not until now.
We spoke with Corddry a couple of weeks ago to learn a little bit about the food that thrills him and the restaurants that make him nostalgic for his days growing up in the Boston suburbs. Along the way, we learned a little bit about the sandwich place that he can’t get out of his mind, his strong opinions on Miami, and the culinary tradition he’s trying to kickstart with his family.
What’s your history with Boston?
Born and raised. About 15 minutes south of Boston in Weymouth, Massachusets. Lived there until I was like 18 or 19, and I went to college and I just kinda stayed at college during the summer. And I haven’t been back in a while, I love going back there to work. If I have a job there, it’s awesome. Also have some family there. But I don’t really get back that often. Last time I was back was for a funeral.
Not exactly a festive occasion.
[Laughs] It was a hilarious funeral.
Oh, well that’s good, at least. Any memories of your first date?
Yeah! Okay, first date, I didn’t even think I could drive yet, so my parents had to drive me. And I cannot even tell you who the girl was. Who was it?
She’s gonna read this and be so upset and offended.
[Laughs] I doubt it. She probably wouldn’t remember either. But it was at the Ground Round.
Oh wow, alright.
No, no. Oh, I’m sorry it wasn’t the Ground Round, it’s even better. It’s in the space where the Ground Round used to be. It’s called the Magic Pan. I’m sure it’s not around anymore, it was in the South Shore Plaza in Braintree, and it specialized in crepes. I had a chicken alfredo crepe.
That’s daring. A crepe place on a first date. Were you trying to pull off that Euro-cool vibe?
Yeah, in a way. To me, the Magic Pan was one of the small handful of restaurants that I knew of at, whatever, 15 that I considered top-notch. And, no offense to the former owner of the Magic Pan, but it wasn’t that top-notch. It was a restaurant in a mall.
You mention Ground Round, and that brings back memories. I lived in Connecticut for a little while, and had a great familiarity with them, they’re very few and far between now. They still exist, but it’s super sparse.
They’re sad now because they used to be a really rowdy place. We used to love going as kids because you could throw your peanut shells on the floor, and I didn’t even like peanuts, I just ate them so I could throw the shells on the floor. They also showed Three Stooges movies.
Can you even imagine the legal issues they would have now if they still did the peanut thing now with allergies?
Oh my god! If you had a peanut allergy you couldn’t even drive into the parking lot.
There’s a divide though. I don’t remember the peanut thing. My parents, one of their first dates was at a Ground Round and they said the same thing about the peanuts, and I remember it only as popcorn.
I’m older than you. It was really my early childhood. Then they rebranded the whole entire thing.
They kept the movies, I do remember the movies, the movies were a big draw.
Yeah, it was so great.
So any other place from childhood that sparks a warm memory for you?
Yeah, it’s no longer around. Teal’s Tavern was amazing. They had the best food, and every night they had a different thing. You go on Tuesday night, you’re gonna get their fried chicken. You go on Wednesday, you’re gonna get the roast beef. And it was all family style. But the thing is, you paid what you weigh. So, people would get on a scale…
[Laughs] I’d be so fucked.
Yeah, and that’s obviously why that business model failed. “Fuck you, I’m not getting on that scale.”
Well, in America, land of rising obesity…
Boy, that was good food though.
Are there any places that you do have to go back to when you go back to the area?
Oh, absolutely. I’ve mentioned this place a lot but I’m only re-mentioning it because it’s that good. It’s a really, really special sandwich shop in Weymouth, Massachusetts on Washington Avenue. It’s called That’s Italian Too. I believe there’s a “That’s Italian,” somewhere. Just this little sandwich shack right on Whitman’s Pond and it makes the best sandwiches. Particularly their Italian sandwich. They probably call it a grinder.
I’ve been trying to replicate that sandwich my entire life. Like at Subway, I would get just a certain thing, but they’ve got this kind of pepper relish thing. It’s so good, they make it there, you can’t buy it, and that’s what makes the sandwich. Oh, and they give me sour pickles too, oh my God. Ooh, and they cut it up in cubes. In cubes! The tomato and the pickle. Well, you might be saying “Oh, well who cares? A cut is a cut.” No, my friend. That’s wrong. Cubes taste better. It’s like square pearls of flavor.
Is there a signed picture of you on the wall there?
Ha! No! That’s the best part! They couldn’t give a shit! I have mentioned them… I did two articles, one was a local paper, like the Boston Globe or The Patriot Ledger. And the second one was like Food and Wine magazine, or something. Like it was a big food magazine. And, I walked in there once, like the cock of the walk thinking, “I’m gonna get free subs for life!” And I think one guy when I was checking out kinda gave me a nod. It’s so Boston, and I love it. They don’t have any of that up. Nothing.
Now, are there any other restaurants that have signed pictures of you up?
Yeah, two of them. Frank’s Pizza in Weymouth. Not only was I up on the wall, the article was taped to the back of the register. You couldn’t miss it. They were very proud. They were very proud that I liked their pizza.
The other one is in New York. It’s an old lunch counter, really authentic lunch counter you know, from the 1920s/30’s, that era. Great matzo ball soup, awesome tuna fish salad, and the name is not coming to me. They’re gonna be like, “You asshole.”
It’s so good. Great egg cream. The more I talk about this the more it’s getting closer to my brain… my recall abilities. No, it’s not coming.
You ever try to make your own egg cream? My father always had a very specific way — a long spoon, a certain way to stir it. It can’t be done in a haphazard way.
Yeah, that’s right. And they do something like, when they’re pouring it toward the spoon, it’s turned upside down. It has to be a certain syrup.
Yes. The seltzer has to bounce off the spoon while working the spoon. It has to be U-Bet… or Bosco. It’s a fucking art form.
It’s so great.
So, Ballers is moving its setting from Miami to LA this season, correct?
Yeah, we were in LA to shoot, but we were doubling it for Miami. Four of the characters are moving out to LA. So it’s just, let’s get rid of the pretense and say we’re in LA.
You filmed some in Miami, though. Any restaurants you’re going to miss?
No. Well, of course, Joe’s Stone Crab is amazing. I’ve eaten there a dozen times. They are the nicest people. They have the best food. It is crazy hard to get into. Like, you’ve got to know a guy. But other than that… I say no offense to people who live in Miami, but how could you not take offense to this? I want the rest of the city to just fall into the ocean.
I just could not stand it there. You know why? It’s me, it’s not them, it’s me. I’m 47, I was there when I was 45. If you’re not in your 20s or 80s, there’s nothing for you there. You know, it’s a fun town, but not in-between. Not if you’re an in-betweener like me.
So, I just did not dig it. I didn’t like being away from my family either, so it’s all me, Miami.
[Laughs] So, LA, what are some places that just call to you there?
You know, LA is definitely — the food has gotten a lot better, I’ve heard, over the last decade or so. But I’m a homebody. I don’t like leaving my house. So, I tend to gravitate toward restaurants in my neighborhood. So basically that’s where I go. I go to the Hyperion Pub, which is awesome.
Do you cook?
Oh, I make a mean chicken parm.
Tell me about it.
I just got a book called Sunday Dinners. Cause I would like to start that with my family. Usually, we do takeout Sunday night. But I would love to have one of those big roast beef dinners of my childhood. They’re really great. They have a very special place in my heart. So I’m gonna start doing that, cook a roast.
Ballers returns to HBO on Sunday at 10PM