Along the scenic River Road between New Hope and Washington Crossing lies a lushly landscaped yellow house with puffs of smoke spiraling from its chimney. Though ordinary in appearance, a peek through the large windows reveals large Italian feasts of fresh mozzarella, seafood, and pastas prepared by the house chef, Francisco Argueta. Servers bustle about with platters of the chef?s signature dish?linguine al frutti di mare fradiavolo with shrimp, scallops, and mussels in white wine and red sauce?careful not to knock over towers of Francisco's lasagna with thick layers of pasta, ricotta, porcini mushrooms, and smoked bacon. Diners seated under the timber-beamed ceilings of intimate dining areas sip sodas, sparkling mineral water, and cappuccinos by the flickering warmth of a fireplace. Francisco's on the River?s BYOB policy allows diners to tote in their own libations, such as a favorite bottle of wine or a vintage carton of milk.
Chicken alfredo, shrimp scampi, eggplant parmesan. More than 30 housemade pasta dishes emerge from the kitchen every night at Piccolo Trattoria of Newtown. Chefs scatter pistachio nuts and goat cheese into fettuccine, smother penne with baby shrimp and pesto cream sauce, and cover fusilli with oyster and shiitake mushrooms.
Earlier in the day, however, these recipes take on a different form: they become pizzas. During lunch, chefs whip up more than 20 gourmet pies, crowning them with classic pasta ingredients alongside non-Italian flavors such as taco and cheesesteak fixings. Besides tossing noodles and flinging dough, the BYOB eatery's chefs cook salmon in a port wine reduction and sauté veal with figs and mushrooms in a cognac cream sauce.
Since its founding on Cinco de Mayo, 1989, El Taco Loco has sought to transport the flavors of a California taqueria to the East Coast without the help of preservatives, fillers, artificial flavoring, or lard. Along with classic fajitas, enchiladas, and carne-asada burritos, the extensive menu tweaks tradition with offerings such as the Mexican BLT taco and french fries with a piquant house spice blend, all of which can take on extra heat at the complimentary salsa bar. In the summer, sidewalk flower boxes beckon guests into El Taco Loco's storefront, designed to resemble a beach hut complete with grass roof and vacationing starfish.
Using traditional Mediterranean and Indian culinary techniques, Cumin Cafe’s chefs infuse dishes with piquant, rich flavors. Bits of beef or lamb shank simmer alongside spices and vegetables in a clay pot in Mediterranean tajine stews; Greek spanakopita layers spinach and feta cheese between a flaky pastry crust. Chefs add a splash of rose water to prawns flavored with ground spices in golden korma curry, and use tandoori-style ovens to cook chili naan, making a perfect scoop for goat biryani rice dishes or a heating pad for diners’ sore shoulders.
The touches of bright blue at Mikonos Restaurant—pendant lights, plaid tablecloths, and chairs—recall the blue and white shades that flourish on Greece's coast. Peppered with photography of the island it's named after, Mikonos strives to offer an authentic Greek experience. The chefs craft dishes based on family recipes passed down through generations, and they import much of their kitchen's stock from Greece—including feta, yogurt, Souroti sparkling mineral water, and the piping-hot flames for the saganaki flambé.
The menu ranges from traditional dishes such as spanakopita, moussaka, and lamb souvlaki to diner-style dishes such as omelets and a burger piled with bacon, Greek parmigiana cheese, and piquillo-smoked-paprika aioli. Since the spot opened in 2011, it's been noticed for its Greek flair. The New York Times praised the grilled octopus as "exceedingly fresh and tender—luscious, really—simply drizzled with olive oil and vinegar," and noted the "affable service at prices that are on the low side." All of this contributes to revelry at the eatery, the chatter of silverware punctuated by glasses of Hope Valley Wine clicking together.
After successfully preparing 12 grilled quail for a prince, one commands a certain amount of respect in the culinary trade. This was, in fact, part of Alex Cormier’s daily duties as personal chef to prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia, a gig he held during the prince's visit to the United States. Perhaps even more impressive than his part-time brush with royalty, Cormier once stood at the helm of his own restaurant, Alex on South, where his reputation for artful, elegant French fare took off and his culinary star shone brighter than ever over the Atlantic seaboard.
After closing his restaurant and completing stints in various other four-star kitchens, Cormier journeyed to Rick's, which had already achieved local fame for its standout Italian fare. In his temporary role as executive chef, Cormier saw a reflection of himself in the restaurant’s base menu of Italian favorites, and it was not long before he took over in a permanent role. Today, he continues the tradition of fine Italian cuisine that has kept Rick’s on the map for more than a decade, occasionally drawing on his own experiences to pepper the menu with European and Asian influences or dazzle his fellow chefs with onion-ring volcanoes.