Joe Farina talks with his mouth full. He eats in his car. If a sandwich doesn’t meet his expectations, he tosses it out the window. Mr. Farina may not a not be a traditional food reviewer, but he does have the most important credential.

Joe Farina's To Go with Joe series takes a casual approach to food reviews. — Alison L. Mead

“I’m a big eater,” he said. “A glutton. A big fan of eating food for a long time.”

Grading on an academic A to F scale, Mr. Farina posts video food reviews on his Facebook page under the heading To Go with Joe. He’s reviewed everywhere from Cumberland Farms (D grade) to La Choza (B grade) to Woodland Variety and Grill (A grade).

He sees himself not as a food critic, but as a customer. Portion size, flavor and value dominate his interests, but not always in that order. His blue collar approach to evaluating food is clear in his reviews. In one video, he reviews a jerk pork plate from The Food Truck.

“Yeah even the rice has flavor,” he says in the video. “I can’t describe it but there’s definitely some flavor in this rice. It’s not the stuff you put in the microwave like some places do.”

The casual approach is because Mr. Farina is not overly serious about critiquing food; the food is really a tool for comedy.

“People thought I was serious, but it’s more about it being fun,” Mr. Farina said.

The series began after Mr. Farina noticed the varying quality of sandwiches from Island restaurants. — Alison L. Mead

However, all of his opinions are honest reactions to the food. Though he plans where to go ahead of time and often previews the menu, Mr. Farina enters each review with an open mind, forming his thoughts on the fly as he chews. The whole process is usually done in one take.

“Once the food’s open, I can’t mess up,” Mr. Farina said. “I can’t go back and re-open it.”

His set up is simple. A silver Jeep, a Cannon DSLR, a fish-eye lens, a bottle of ginger ale to prop up the lens and a parking lot. He eats in his front seat and talks into the camera. Occasionally he gets strange looks from passersby, but he’s become adept at ignoring them.

The idea for filmed food reviews came to Mr. Farina when he noticed that sandwiches across the Island varied in quality but all cost about $10. He thought it would be funny to film himself while he ate. He admits he’s a messy eater.

Set-up is simple and reviews are usually done in one take. — Alison L. Mead

Mr. Farina has lived on the Vineyard for about seven years. Though his day job is as a property manager, he has experience editing, producing and acting in videos. One of his other Vineyard film projects is All Downhill From Here with Brooke and Lynne Adams.

Mr. Farina teamed up with Lucas Pisano to produce the To Go With Joe videos. As the series has evolved, they’ve added in more freeze frames and cuts to movie scenes. During the reviews, Mr. Farina focuses on self-deprecating humor rather than making fun of the food.

“I was never out to get anyone,” he explained. But the lightheartedness of the series does not stop him from an honest response.

When Mr. Farina goes off-Island, his reviews travel with him. Raised in New Jersey in an Italian-German family, Mr. Farina feels particularly qualified to judge chicken Parmesan, cheese steaks and pizza. And he’s not susceptible to nostalgia or nepotism. In one video, reviewing a childhood favorite sandwich shop, he tossed the sandwich out the window after discovering the portion of meat seemed to have been reduced from his youth. In another review, he exposes a cheese steak shop that stopped using a much-loved roll.

Looking ahead, Mr. Farina hopes to invite chefs into his car with him for the reviews. He thinks he will be able to remain unbiased.

Mr. Farina: “I’m a big eater. A glutton. A big fan of eating food for a long time.” — Alison L. Mead

“That will be tough, but you have to do it,” he said. “You have to give an honest reaction. But I don’t want to turn it into Fist-Fighting in the Car with Joe.”

He’s already had some experience facing his subjects after a less than stellar grade.

“If you give someone a bad review, you’re going to run into them at some point,” he said.

After reviewing a sandwich from Cumberland Farms, the company’s public relations team reached out to ask if he’d like to talk with their marketing team. He said he’d prefer to speak with the sandwich making department.

While he’s ready to point out when a sandwich would benefit from more meat or if the pizza crust tastes like cardboard, Mr. Farina doesn’t claim to be able to make food better than any place he reviews. In fact, he said he can only cook enough to survive. But maybe that’s why he should be trusted.

“I’m never a producer of food, just a consumer,” he said. “My interest is eating it, that’s it.”

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