"I've heard of it, but I'm not sure where it is." That's a typical response when you ask people in the Berkshires about the Dream Away Lodge. Even though the restaurant has been attracting everyone from local carpenters to visiting celebrities for more than 50 years, it's one of the Berkshires' best-kept secrets.
One reason: It's almost impossible to find. There's no advertising, no road signs (except a small one just before the driveway), and it sits on a private 43-acre parcel in the middle of October Mountain State Forest. The white frame house was, at various times, a hunting lodge, a speakeasy, and, some hint, a brothel. In the 1940s, it became an Italian restaurant, run by the immigrant Frasca family. Mama Frasca cooked, hosted, and, with her three folk-costumed daughters, serenaded diners.
Daniel Osman, a former actor, director, and producer who was determined to keep Mama's place going in style (she died in the '80s), bought it in 1997. He's been serving a combo continental and bar menu (including Mama's recipe for spicy fries) ever since. The place is still filled with Mama's stuff: Rheingold beer posters, golden rooster wallpaper, crocheted poodle bottle covers, throne chairs, cloth-doll toilet-paper covers, velvet chaise longues, and family photos with Milton Berle, Liberace, Joan Baez, and other luminaries.
Osman also kept up Mama's traditional Wednesday-night hootenanny and her slanting porch (he retained the 30-degree angle when he rebuilt it) as well as her disdain for advertising. "If you can't find it, you can't come," he maintains, though he frequently serves as a personal global positioning system, directing patrons in by cellphone.
There is something Mama never offered: Sunday brunch. Now you can scarf down the house specialty, the Dream Away country breakfast salad -- two eggs, bacon, and home fries, served on top of a fresh green salad -- toss back a Bloody Mary, and head out to walk off your meal. A quick stroll four-10ths of a mile down County Road puts you directly onto the Appalachian Trail. Or walk first, and come back for dinner.
In addition to the Wednesday hootenanny, there's live music weekend nights and most Sunday brunches.
Dream Away Lodge, 1342 County Road, Becket, 413-623-8725. Brunch runs about $7-$15 per person.
Directions: Take Exit 2 on the Massachusetts Turnpike (Interstate 90); turn left to head east on Route 20. Go 4 miles. Opposite the Belden Tavern, turn left onto Becket Road/Yokum Pond Road. After 3.5 miles, you will see a yield sign; make a hard left onto County Road. The Dream Away Lodge is 1.5 miles on the right on County Road.