During Donald Trump’s presidency, much was written about his eating habits — his love for well-done steak, Egg McMuffins, and chocolate cake; the $5,500 fast-food feast he served the Clemson Tigers at the White House; his “I love Hispanics!” Trump Grill taco bowl; the Diet Coke panic button at his fingertips in the Oval Office….
Less has been reported about what’s on the menu for President Biden, but his tastes are not necessarily much more sophisticated. No sea urchin sushi, white truffle risotto, or pheasant under glass for him. And despite his concern for fitness (including a five-day-a-week workout routine), he’s not sipping kombucha and nibbling kale chips, either. In fact, like his predecessor, he’s a fan of fast food and has a definite sweet tooth. His predilection for ice cream is legendary.
Some of the president’s culinary preferences are regional, like the Bobbie sandwich, made at one of his favorite eateries in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware — or like a classic cheesesteak, which counts as regional because Wilmington is just down the I-95 from its birthplace, Philadelphia. (That popular sandwich is a good example of the most iconic foods every state has given the rest of the U.S.
Other favorites might well be influenced by the Italian heritage of his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, whose grandfather was a Sicilian immigrant — original last name Giacoppo. He eats a lot of pasta, and one of his favorite home-cooked meals is reportedly his wife’s parmesan chicken with rigatoni. Speaking of which, these are 10 Italian dishes that aren’t really Italian.
1. Caprese salad
This classic Italian salad (sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil) was one of the items mandated in what the UK’s Daily Mail called a “rock star rider” attached to his contract for a speaking engagement in Florida in 2019.
2. Tuna salad
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported back in 2012 that the then-vice-president ordered a tuna salad plate and a Diet Coke when he stopped at Nestor’s at Bageland in Boca Raton on a campaign swing through the Sunshine State.
3. Vegetable beef soup
This was Biden’s choice for carry-out when he swung by a Hy-Vee supermarket in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in 2012.
4. Bobbie sandwich
The Wilmington branch of Capriotti’s, an Italian hoagie chain, is one of Biden’s regular stops when he’s in his hometown, and his favorite sandwich there is this “Thanksgiving on a roll” — an assemblage of pulled turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mayonnaise on a long Italian roll.
5. Club sandwich
A turkey club sandwich with chips and pickles on the side is one of the president’s sometime choices at Wilmington’s Charcoal Pit, a 64-year-old burger joint that has been a favorite of his since his high school years.
6. Dagwood sandwich
Stopping at the Concord, N.H. location of the casual Works CafÃ© in 2015, Biden opted for a Dagwood sandwich — a heap of roast turkey, ham, bacon, provolone, and tomato with mayo on sourdough, named for the famous comic-strip trencherman Dagwood Bumstead.
7. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
In a pre-election radio chat last year with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Biden confessed that “When in doubt, I have a peanut butter and jelly.” People make fun of him for that, he admitted, but he discovered that former secretary of state John Kerry has “the same addiction.”
8. Hamburger and fries
The quarter-pound burger at the Charcoal Pit in Wilmington is another one of Biden’s standard orders there — and back in 2009, as vice president, he and President Obama paid an impromptu visit to Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington, Va., where he devoured a cheeseburger with jalapenos. As much as he obviously loves burgers, though, when asked at a town hall meeting last May if COVID-related regulations in processing plants might increase the price of meat, he said “No worker’s life is worth me getting a cheaper hamburger.”
Paying a visit to the Philadelphia landmark Pat’s King of Steaks back in 2010, Biden confessed that when he was in law school at Syracuse University in upstate New York, he’d stock up on cheesesteaks there on the way back up north from Wilmington, wrap them in foil, then sell them to fellow students in Syracuse for three times what he’d paid. At Pat’s, he ordered a cheesesteak “Whiz, widout” — topped with Cheese Whiz, with no onions. The press reported that he promptly “scarfed the whole thing.”
10. Angel hair pasta pomodoro
These delicate noodles with tomato sauce are one of the foods that were specified in the contract rider for Biden’s pre-election speaking engagements. It’s also a dish he has eaten frequently at one of his favorite haunts in the nation’s capital, Cafe Milano in Georgetown, where it goes under the name “capellini Ann Hand” (named for a well-known D.C. jewelry designer).
11. Spaghetti and meatballs
This Italian-American classic was on Biden’s plate when he visited Rosebud on Rush in Chicago in 2018. It’s also a dish he special-orders at Bardea Food & Drink in Wilmington, in lieu of the more contemporary Italian fare on the menu there.
12. Baked ziti
For pizza (see below) and other Italian fare when he’s home in Wilmington, the president favors Gianni’s Pizza, where one of his favorite indulgences is baked ziti.
The Brooklyn-style pies at Gianni’s pizzeria in Wilmington are another of Biden’s hometown favorites, and he stopped at the place in 2019 right after he’d kicked off his presidential campaign in Washington. Two of his preferred restaurants in D.C. in his vice-presidential days were Pizzeria Paradiso and Pete’s Apizza. And last August in Pittsburgh, he brought along pizzas from local standby Mineo’s Pizza House when he made a campaign stop at a city firehouse.
14. Parmesan chicken
This may well be the Italian-American dish Biden has eaten the most: His wife makes it often for him from an old family recipe. She serves it with rigatoni and a green salad,
15. Fig Newtons
When Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer interviewed Biden on her radio show last year, she asked if it was true that he loved Fig Newtons. Absolutely, he replied, “because they’re small and I can sneak them.”
Biden seems to love ice cream in any form — even when it’s in a milkshake. That’s one of the things he has ordered often over the years at Wilmington’s Charcoal Pit. And when he visited Durham, North Carolina, last fall, he and his granddaughter Finnegan got shakes at Cook Out. When reporters asked what flavors they’d chosen, he replied “We got one vanilla, one chocolate, but I wanted to get what we call black-and-white. … We’re gonna split it.”
17. Frozen custard
Yet another frozen dessert that Biden favors, frozen custard figured in a contretemps at Kopp’s Frozen Custard in 2010. When he asked how much he owed for his custard, the manager replied “Don’t worry, it’s on us. Lower out taxes and we’ll call it even.” Biden momentarily lost his temper, and called the man a “smartass.”
18. Ice cream
“My name is Joe Biden and I love ice cream,” Vice-President Biden announced in 2016. The following year, at Cornell University, he said “I’m the only Irishman you guys know who’s never had a drink and loves ice cream.” The Cornell Dairy created a special chocolate chip ice cream in his honor, dubbing it “Big Red [the nickname for the school’s sports teams], White, and Biden.” By April of last year, according to the Federal Election Commission, Biden’s presidential campaign had spent more than $10,000 on the chilly treat. Jeni’s Splendid is said to be his favorite brand, and the company created its own specialty to mark his inauguration — White House Chocolate Chip (vanilla ice cream with chocolate flakes and pieces of chocolate-covered waffle cone).
19. Diet Coke
It may have become known as President Trump’s heraldic beverage, but Diet Coke is also a Biden favorite. The refrigerator at the vice-presidential residence, when he was there, was always stocked with Diet Coke and Coke Zero.
“My favorite drink is orange Gatorade,” Biden told US Weekly early this year. In fact, he may have lost at least one vote because of his preference. Appearing on the popular Showtime program “Desus & Mero” during his presidential campaign, Biden brandished a bottle of orange Gatorade after Mero said jokingly that he could only support a candidate who quaffed the Glacier blue version of the drink.