Monday, December 15, 2014

"Now That's Italian" Specialty Market & Deli

Now That's Italian: Specialty Market & Deli
127 South 3rd Street
Coopersburg, PA  18036
610-282-4242 
Hours:   M-Sat 10a-6p; Sun 10a-4p


This is too good to be true.  First, a bagel shop recently opened in Coopersburg...now an Italian Market & Deli?!  My husband and I, both born and raised in Pennyslvania, are reliving some of our favorite parts of our brief residence in one of New York City's boroughs.  Returning to Lehigh Valley, PA was a sacrifice when it came to authentic Italian cuisine.  One easily becomes spoiled by the plethora of delis, superior slices of pizza, and authentic, fresh pasta and marinara sauce.  Hospitable Italian friends are honored to share their prized sauce recipe, traditionally prepared for a Sunday feast and variations throughout the remainder of each week.

Entering Now That's Italian brought a nostalgic, comforting smile to my face as we were greeted by friendly owners, a chalkboard of sandwich items and a pleasant market environment.  To our left, were several packaged Italian products including pasta, canned tomatoes, recipe books and more.  A few tables allow opportunity to dine-in.  

A beautiful sight was a case of fresh Pastosa ravioli, a much-awaited reunion with one of our favorite traditions.   It is difficult to return to frozen pasta after many meals with this fresh, well-known New York city product.
Next, I was greeted by a case of FRESH Italian bread!  I recognized the New Jersey bakery, Liscio's from our favorite cheese steak joint in Ocean City, NJ.  This inspired mouthwatering visions of our newfound opportunity to pick up fresh ravs and a loaf of bread for dinner in our PA home town! 

This is not the first venture for business partners, Laura Rosada & Joseph Sinagra, originally from New York City.  Previously owning a deli in the Poconos, they are excited to offer something at a prime location in Coopersburg PA.  Sandwich selections include a variety of Italian meats, cheeses, and vegetables.  While their menu lists 14 cold sandwich options and 4 hot specialty sandwiches, during their initial opening, they are serving one hot sandwich option.  My mother and I settled on Under the Tuscan Sun (eggplant, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, roasted peppers, sundried tomato, balsamic vinegar, salt pepper, $9,99) and 1 of 5 salad options, La Bella Donna (lettuce, tomato, onion, banana pepper, cucumber, sweet peppers, olives, $6.75).   Our delicious flavorful sandwich included housemade mozzarella cheese and was accompanied by a side of pasta salad and chips.  Now That's Italian also offers catering for your next large gathering. 


Of course we needed a sweet sampler to end our experience.  The tantalizing case and our delicious almond-flavored, moist delight called us for a return visit.  Many of the Italian pastries are housemade, and Italian cookies are imported from a Brooklyn bakery.  Now THAT'S Italian.   I'm thrilled at the increased variety of options in our hometown and hope many venture in for an authentic, delightful experience.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Johnny's Drive-In: Known for Its Gyros

Johnny's Drive-In
2722 Easton Avenue
Bethlehem, PA  18017
610-865-9999
Hours:  M-Sat 11a-9p; Sun: Closed


Johnny's Drive-In.  An unassuming yet intriguing exterior is sure to provide a satisfying experience.  After a long-time recommendation from a friend who knows we enjoy gyros, we finally took the opportunity to visit.  On a Friday evening, there was a steady stream of local customers who seemed to be regulars.  While the menu provides a wide array of classic American options (cheeseburger, cheese steak, chicken fingers), we went to our preferred and recommended:  "the New York Gyro" ($6.15), topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and tzatsiki sauce.  Our sides included french fries (large: $2.99) and a greek salad (small: $4.59).  
While we waited, we overheard someone raving about the gyros.  He visited another city and ordered a gyro while out to dinner.  He then proceeded to tell the owner of this restaurant: "If you want to learn how to make a gyro, go to Johnny's gyros. They're the best I've ever had!"  This was an encouraging validation of our imminent meal.  
We enjoyed our sides:  greek salad, topped with a stuffed grape leaf and black olives and generous portion of french fries.   However the highlight was the delicious gyro, definitely of the best we've had in the Lehigh Valley & Beyond.  Perfect temperature of fresh meat and pita and ideal amount of accompanied tzatsiki sauce.  
Another asset of Johnny's is its personable ownership, who were working hard, while greeting and serving their customers.  While there is limited seating and most seem to come in for take-out, the environment was bright, clean and inviting.  Now that we've been to Johnny's, it will be at the top of our list when asked where to go for the best gyros in LV & B.
Johnny's Drive In on Urbanspoon 
















Sunday, November 23, 2014

E-Z Bagels: NY-style Bagels meet Coopersurg

E-Z Bagels
Fairmount Village Shopping Center
7001 Route 309 
Coopersburg, PA  18036
Hours: Mon-Sun 6:30a-6:30p

Every town needs a good bagel shop.  This was confirmed during our time living in one of New York City's boroughs.  There was no lack of deli or store to complete a morning routine of coffee and a bagel and cream cheese or egg sandwich.   We have missed this since returning to Pennyslvania 10 years ago.  It is like a dream come true to have a bagel shop in our own small town!

This is not just any bagel shop.   Easy to miss nestled in one of the Coop's shopping centers, it sells bagels, New York style, hand rolled and boiled in water.  There is a difference.  This is the secret to a superior bagel.  E-Z Bagels is a second location for its owner, also operating one in Bethlehem.  Previously working under one of the Lehigh Valley's best and most popular bagel shops, Johnny's Bagels, he started his own business in 2011 and is now enhancing Coopersburg with a new option for breakfast, lunch or an early dinner.

Bagel selections are classic, such as pumpernickel, plain, egg, cinnamon raisin, everything, and a tasty honey wheat option.  Menu items include bagel and cream cheese (intriguing flavored options: honey walnut, veggie, herb garlic, bacon scallion, olive, jalapeno) or a variety of breakfast sandwiches ($3.50-$4.50) and omelettes ($5.99-$6.99). 

E-Z bagels expands beyond bagels.   The wide menu appeals to a basic American appetite (Philly cheesesteak, Reuben, "The Mike," "The Coopersburg" $5.99-6.99) or adventurous customers who enjoy a Mediterranean flare.   I look forward to an opportunity to return to experience their grilled kabobs ($6.99), gyro ($6.99), falafel ($6.99) or fava bean pita ($5.99) 


Not only do we have a new lunch location right in town, but we look forward to many more morning routines of bagels & coffee to enjoy in the clean, peaceful atmosphere or to take home and share with friends.  

E-Z Bagel on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 14, 2014

Dessert Dining: Cafe Erica

Cafe Erica
637 Main Street
Hellertown, PA  18055
610-748-1500
Hours:  Sun 8a-8p; Mon 8a-3p; 
T, W, Th 8a-9p; F & Sat 8a-10

Spoon Rate: 


On a recent evening out with friends, we were on the hunt for a decent dessert location in the LV&B.  When wanting to take a break from the classic ice cream treat, where does one go to have a nice dessert over coffee?

We were in Hellertown, so we checked out the menu of Cafe Erica.   It looked promising and was open until 10.  We had a delightful experience.  

Adjacent to Bella's Ristorante ,  (which I have yet to try, but was busy serving tantalizing plates of Italian cuisine), Cafe Erica serves more than just desserts.  It offers a basic breakfast and lunch menu, along with a full coffee bar.  Its inviting aesthetics provide the kind of meeting and eating spot every small town should   include.  

Our party enjoyed a variety of warm beverages including coffee, tea and an americano, charmingly served in a variety of mugs.   We ordered a variety of desserts--chocolate-toffee lace cookies came from the case at Cafe Erica.  The others came from Bella's, including a chocolate cream puff, carrot cake, and blueberry cheesecake.  I can't yet speak for what they serve for breakfast and lunch, but it proved to be an ideal atmosphere and after-dinner ending.

Where do YOU like to go for an evening dessert?  Leave a comment to share your suggestions!

Cafe Erica on Urbanspoon        

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Daddy's Place

Daddy's Place
650 Northampton St.
Easton, PA 18042
 610-438-4442
Hours:  Sun 12p-9p; M-Th 7a-9p; 7a-10p



Spoon Rate:   


A highlight since starting this blog is having friends and family make recommendations for local restaurants to review.  A friend invited me to join her at Daddy's Place.  It could be because she knew the owner that we received such honorable treatment.  However, the hospitality we received is a true depiction of the pride and love that encompass this family-owned restaurant in downtown Easton.  Relatively new to this city, it has much to offer the Lehigh Valley & Beyond.
An unexpected asset noticed upon arrival is ample parking in their lot.  The signs, outdoor and indoor renovations are artistic, modern and clean.  Outdoor tables for eating is to be expected upon warmer temperatures.  Inside, the open, bright atmosphere is energizing, with an at-home feel.  The owners and employees were working hard in the kitchen, already starting to prepare an appetizer sampler for us. A case is full of treats ranging from spinach pie to slices of cheesecake.  I hear wonderful things about the homemade cheesecake and baklava--which must be popular because they were out of stock that day. 
The name Daddy's place lovingly came from one of the daughters of the owners.  With a Lebanese heritage, the menu includes Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern Cuisine.  Their menu is vast, including a variety of American options for breakfast, lunch, & dinner.  We chose to have the authentic Lebanese experience.  

The impeccable service started us with 2 mini-pie sampler ($5.99).  This variety of pastry pies were stuffed with cheeses, spinach, meats and flavor.  To follow, we requested the fava bean salad and a sampler of hummus, baba ganouj, tabouli, and grape leaves.  Accompanied by their delicious thin flatbread, we experienced the robust flavors of these classic dishes.  Their hummus was exceptionally smooth with a distinct hint of lemon.

We tried to pace ourselves so we could enjoy an entree.  All entrees are accompanied by a choice of 2 sides (salad, soup, rice and grilled veggies.)  We were recommended to try the lamb ($18.95).  My friend enjoyed the unique rice, tender lamb with an accompanying, flavorful sauce.  She commented on the authenticity of each recipe.  In her words, "Most middle eastern places serve the lamb kabobs a bit too chewy but the lamb there had the perfect balance of being char-grilled on the outside and tender on the inside. The rice was made with a roasted traditional Lebanese noodle, which gave it a comfort food flavor to it."  I chose the falafel with grilled veggies ($13.99).  Large portions and plenty of food left us beyond satisfied with many leftovers to enjoy the next day.  Our meal ended with a delicious cup of Turkish coffee.($1.50)

Not only does Daddy's place provide cuisine that makes you feel at home, it also serves as a beer distributor.  Said to have the largest selection of beer in the Lehigh Valley (over 600), it provides both imported and local brews to drink in-house or take home.  

An enjoyable addition to the city of Easton, I look forward to sharing the hospitable, delicious experience with my friends and family!

 Daddy's Place on Urbanspoon    

Sunday, January 5, 2014



2013 in Review:


The end of 2013 brought time for reflection & thanksgiving...the Lehigh Valley really does have a lot to offer the food scene--our year of eating included Mexican, Turkish, Middle-Eastern, French, Southern BBQ, Jamaican, Spanish/Portuguese--to name just a few.   Locally grown products, health-friendly, comfort food--old and new spots include it all.  While we have our favorite spots we continually return, we want to share just a few categories to reflect some of our favorite eating in 2013.  What have been your most memorable meals? We'd love to read your comments!


Favorite Mexican:  Fiesta Habanero

Favorite BBQ:  Tex's Smoking BBQ

Favorite Ice Cream:  milkshakes at MOO

Noteworthy addition to the Lehigh Valley & Beyond:  Full of Crepe

Favorite Thai:  Charly's

Favorite Find:  Damascus

Favorite Comfort Food:  Paprika's

Most Memorable Meal:  Europa Barbeque
 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Winston's
619 N. 7th Street
Allentown, PA  18102
484-221-9682
Hours:  M-Sat 11a-9p; Sun 11a-7p
Credit Card:  Accepted
Spoon Rate: 

Winston's brought us to a part of Allentown we might not normally visit or travel.  The online reviews were supportive that it was worth a visit.  To my knowledge, Winston (the personable owner), has a niche in the LV serving Jamaican or "West Indian & American" cuisine.   A no-frills ambience, reggae music playing in the background and authentic-looking, friendly employees greet you as you enter.  
We asked, "What's good here?  What do you recommend?"  He looked at us with confusion at our question and responded "ALL of it!"  His enthusiasm overshadowed his lack of assistance in understanding the simple menu.  Here it is: (see photo)  No paper menu.  No explanations...but the steady stream of customers, almost all getting take-out, all seemed to know exactly what to order.  We graciously accepted some free samples of the curry goat and oxtail.  He explained rice, beans, mixed vegetables and plantains come with every order (selections of fish, chicken or beef).  I like that.   Not to  mention, he guessed what I would order--jerk chicken ($8), a safe and standard option, for sure.  My husband ordered the curry goat ($10).   Now that we know the system--ordering would be a breeze.   

We dined in at one of the few tables--to get the full experience.  We enjoyed observing the friendly, neighborhood vibe.  The customers know a reasonable deal....as we were soon amazed by the portions.   The curry goat was tender--curry taste was not too overpowering.  Jerk chicken had a mild bite to it, but combined beautifully with the sides.  Definitely delicious, flavorful comfort food, with plenty of leftovers to take home. 
Our leftovers

Winston's West Indian & American Restaurant on Urbanspoon