WELCOME TO THE SALOON OF NEWTOWN, PA
IMPECCABLE SERVICE MAKES THE MEAL THE WEEKLY ENTRÉE BY JIM CLARK
My spouse and I were pleasantly surprised to find a very contemporary restaurant that rivals those in Center City nestled in a building from the 1800s in Newtown.
The reception area is outfitted with cushioned seating and low lighting augmented by votive candles. The lighting carries into the dining areas, where the tables are covered in linens and the walls are painted in a blend of dark and light colors, creating a very upscale feel. Everything points toward the Center City experience, from creative dishes on the menu that have an abundance of flavor to a staff that is very well-tuned to ensuring everyone has an enjoyable time.
Throughout dinner, we were impressed that as soon as a dish was empty on our table, as well as those around us, someone was taking the plates away, a practice that should be common as a mark of good service, but is not. Another attention to detail — water glasses were constantly full.
While we were looking at the menu settling on our first dish, we saw a bowl of mussels fra diavlo ($10) delivered to a nearby table. It was so large, I looked for it as an entrée on the menu, but only found it listed as an appetizer, which was confirmed by our server. We decided to share a bowl of the mussels, which had a slightly spicy sauce, while we decided our next course. The mussels were very large, plump and sweet, while the sauce was
After this, I had the soup of the day, a steaming crock of homemade Manhattan clam chowder ($4.50) with so many clams that each spoonful had clams without any effort. It also had a very nice, light spiciness.
My spouse selected the caprese salad ($7) based upon its written description. Rather than the typical sliced tomato and mozzarella with fresh basil sandwiched between, it was served with roasted peppers, fresh pesto and a slice of red onion. It was a wonderful change from the usual.
For her entrée, my spouse selected the 14-ounce double-cut pork chop ($21) with the gombotto ($4) topping, a mixture of roasted potatoes and hot and sweet peppers. When served, in addition to the gombotto, the chop was topped with a pile of crisp, thinly sliced roasted onion. The toppings accentuated the very flavorful chop. With potatoes in the topping, the complimentary pasta was not necessary, but my spouse was interested in the pasta served with an olive oil and garlic sauce that was livened up with a few red pepper flakes.
My entrée was the veal scarpariello ($24). The tender veal was sautéed with Italian sausage and hot and sweet peppers in a roasted garlic sauce served with a side of pasta with marinara sauce. The red and green peppers enhanced the visual impact of the dish, and combined with the veal, sausage and garlic, the dish perked up the taste buds. While I didn't mind that it was on the high end of the heat scale from the peppers, if I order it again, I'll ask for a few less hot peppers. The marinara sauce on the al dente pasta was exceptionally thick with plenty of body and a great taste.
As always after a meal with a lot of flavor, we enjoy desserts that tend to cool the mouth a little. My spouse went with the chocolate kiss ($8), an over-sized cup of semi-sweet chocolate pudding containing crumbed cookies atop a bed of fresh berries. I had the sorbet sampler ($8) that consisted of three scoops — pineapple, blueberry and raspberry — over fresh berries.
The balance of creative dishes and great service in a contemporary setting rates 5 AHs out of 5.