The Rathskeller’s Legendary Lasagna Lives On

Steve Oldham had the skirt steak. He had the grilled onions. After chasing down the right garlic butter, he finally had the perfect Texas toast. His steak fries were exactly the right crispness.

But he still didn’t have the Gambler. Not the way the Ram’s Head Rathskeller served it for almost 60 years on Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street. The dish had become legendary in that restaurant, where it was served in single, double, and triple portions. Generations of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students survived their college years by making their way down a set of somewhat suspect steps on Franklin’s Amber Alley to eat the Gambler, then went back as alums and introduced their children to it.

The Rat, as it was better known, had a menu full of options. But the regulars knew there were really only two choices: lasagna, which was better known as “the bowl of cheese.” And the Gambler.

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