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Newtown Come and Visit


Newtown is What’s Happening

Newtown, with its 70 restaurants, high quality entertainment, interesting boutiques and shops, historic origins, small town look and cosmopolitan atmosphere, is what’s happening ometimes it takes an outsider to give you the skinny on what’s happening in your own backyard—and to what you’ve been missing out on. Such was the case with me recently when a cousin of a friend of mine came to visit from Connecticut. When the three of us met, the cousin couldn’t stop raving about the restaurants and shops in Newtown. As she rattled off one “great gastronomic experience” after another—or “fabulous steal” from one of Newtown’s shops—I could only gulp and nod my head. (Just so we’re all on the same page: My friend lives in Blue Bell, Montgomery Township, and relies on me to keep her savvy of where to dine and shop in Bucks County.) Though there were a few restaurants I was familiar with, I had to admit it had been some time since I last visited Newtown. My friend shot me a look that could only be interpreted as I better rectify this—and soon. Indeed. The very next day I called Beverly Dimler, president of The Newtown Business Association who told me there were at least 70 restaurants in the borough and township combined, with more opening up. Seventy restaurants? Where had I been? Losing no time, I jumped into my car and headed to Newtown. But instead of beelining for my usuals, I pretended I was the visitor and was viewing the town for the first time. From the Newtown Bypass, I hooked a right onto Sycamore Street and parked. (I know, I passed the shops and restaurants in the Village of Newtown Shopping Center, but fear not, they were on my compass to scope out as well.) At the corner, bright and cheery looking with ample outdoor seating, was Zoe’s Kitchen, which draws its menu from Mediterranean countries, using fresh and healthy ingredients. It also offers vegetarian and vegan dishes. (And the first of the new restaurants I encounter). Next to it is Jules Thin Crust which has been a staple on the pizza scene for

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Photos; Melissa Kutalek

S

By Diana Cercone


Top left, the First National Bank and Trust clock, Top right, Rhodes Flower & Gift Shop. Bottom, Newtown Hardware House which has been in opertion since 1869. FA L L

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more than 10 years. It prides itself in using local, organic ingredients when possible. Doing a little zigzagging, across the street is Sycamore Grill, another staple on Newtown’s restaurant landscape. Whether you go for lunch, offering such favorites as blackened salmon BLT, or dinner for its chef’s specials of the week, such as a recent feature of fried green tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and drizzled with basil aioli as an appetizer (Who could resist?) or Happy Hour, you’re bound to not only enjoy well-prepared food, but also to run into someone you know. A few stores down is Greenstraw, offering expertly crafted organic green, fruit and energy smoothies such as Mango Tree, a blend of coconut water, mango, banana, pineapple and greens; cold-pressed juices; juice cleansers; wheatgrass shots; acai, oatmeal, pitaya and specialty bowls. Greenstraw’s menu was designed by an holistic health coach. It wasn’t quite 12 noon and already customers were lining up to place their orders for a healthy fix. Marisa Boutique: The Art of Apparel, on the other side of the street, catches my eye as one of the shops new to me and one I needed to check out. Walking in (its entrance is off the parking lot in the back), I was impressed with the array of sophisticated and elegant chic clothing and accessories. With a sunlit smile, Jayla Johnson, running the store this day, recognizes me as a newcomer and gives me a warm welcome. An engaging young woman, she describes herself as a “a woman of all trades.” I decide, then, to do what I always do when traveling: I ask shopkeepers what their favorite spots are to eat in town. Without hesitation, Jayla rattles off “flat bread at Harvest; Oishi, always for their fried calamari, California

Opposite, Alternative Dimensions Toys on South State Street. Top and bottom. views down Court Street.

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Above, the popular ice cream and coffee shop, The Zebra-Striped Whale, on South State Street. Top right, Rocco’s at the Brick is a new restaurant on Washington & State Streets. The building used to house The Brick Hotel Restaurant. rolls and shrimp tempura; Rocco’s [at the Brick Hotel] for its mac-n-cheese; Pat’s Colonial Kitchen for Saturday morning breakfast with my mom for French toast or pancakes, hot chocolate and omelets; and Duck Sauce. They know my whole family.” Of the five, Harvest Seasonal Grill in the Village of Newtown Shopping Center and Rocco’s at the Brick on State Street are new to me. The others and I are well-acquainted and have never left them disappointed. Other favorites of mine on State Street include Isaac Newton’s, which has been making people happy for 20 years with its food and drink. Think of it as Newtown’s “Cheers.” State Street Kitchen is another where owner Misha Kearney serves up some of the best breakfasts and lunches in town as well as Korean specialties. Then there’s Florentino’s, where chef/owner Francisco Arguela has been captivating diners for two decades with his creative take on Italian cuisine, including house-made pastas. And if you love eggplant parmigiana, his 16-layers of thinly sliced eggplant delicately dressed in the house sauce, parmigiana 72

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cheese and fresh basil is a must. Another Italian favorite is La Stalla in the Village of Newtown South Barn on Swamp Road (Rt. 313). Housed in the historic Lovett Barn built in 1929, the La Stalla family continues the trattoria tradition of offering homemade regional dishes from Tuscany—everything from a traditional antipasto table to a chef’s tasting table. Last year the La Stalla family opened an Italian market on Sycamore Street. Of Italian heritage, I’m always on the lookout for a good Italian market. When I opened the door, it was like a warming embrace from my grandmother. The intoxicating aromas of freshly prepared dishes such as eggplant rollatini, meatballs, lasagna and broccoli rabe along with trays of homemade sausages and hanging imported cheeses were welcoming sights. La Stalla Market also carries a wide selection of imported Italian products, including olive oils and vinegars, pastas and specialty cheeses. Though offering mainly take-out and catering, the market also has cafe tables for eating-in. Not surprising, then, I find two well-dressed, attractive women enjoying lunch. I caught up with them later in front of the market’s two ample-sized dessert coun-


Above, the Bird in Hand house was once owned by Shadrack Walley, one of the earliest settlers in Newtown. ters. A luscious mix of Italian dessert specialties such as sfogliatelle, a shell-shaped pastry filled with cream (and if you’ve never had one, trust me, treat yourself); tiramisou rolls; lemoncello cookies; and biscotti. As they were debating which pastry to choose, Mary Jo Michaels, a poet who lives in Newtown, tells me Karen Albright (from Levittown) is not only her good friend but her sister. The two often meet for lunch here, she says. Today Mary Jo had a crab cake “filled with big chunks of crab meat” and a broccoli cavatelli salad, while her sister also had a crab cake, choosing to pair it with the shaved Brussel sprout Caesar salad. “Everything was delish,” says Karen. “We love it here,” Mary Jo adds. “You can never go wrong. Same as at their restaurant.” Their dessert pick? After much deliberation, they decide to share a fig rugelach and a salted caramel petit four. “We’ll probably be back for another,” Mary Jo says. As I continue to walk along Sycamore and State streets and crossing over to the shops of Newtown Village, I’m struck by how self-contained the area is—much like it was in its early days. For you’ll find everything you really need here: churches;

coffee shops; breakfast and lunch establishments; pizza parlors and taverns, including Triple Sun Spirits, a small-batch distillery; inns and hotels; shops catering to women, men and children; toy and book stores; bakeries, barber shops and hair and nail salons; athletic stores, shoe shops and a shoe repair store; dry cleaners and jewelers, including David Craig Jewelry, the area’s premier jeweler specializing in custom design; Ned’s Cigar Store, which according to its window sign dubs it as “Your Husband’s Day Care Center;” home good stores, apothecaries, banks, realtors, doctors and lawyers. Looking to frame a painting or family heirloom photograph? Head to The Frame Game, where you can DIY or let their experts do it for you. And mourn not the loss of the corner butcher, cheesemonger, fishmonger or grocer here for in their place is McCaffrey’s Food Market on S. Eagle Road, which houses these departments and more under one roof and specializes in all you need to create a gourmet meal or pick up one prepared for you. Or, perhaps, you’re in the mood to catch a live theatre production. If so, the Newtown Arts Company, celebrating its 35th FA L L

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Top, businesses on Sycamore Street. Bottom left, Ned’s Cigar Store is an old staple in Newtown. Bottom right, the outside of the Sycamore Grill. Opposite right, the Coffee Room and a clothing boutique on State Street.

year, brings Broadway to the Newtown Theatre on State. (Check out their 2018-2019 schedule and/or become a volunteer). Then there’s the Newtown Hardware House, established in 1869, and still stocking everything you need for home and garden. Among the go-to shops for the home, put Hamilton Supply Company on your list for all your remodeling needs. And, of course, great restaurants loom large in the mix, including a few more of the newly established such as Bon Appetit on State and Greystone Fine Food & Spirits on Washington Crossing Road. Opening soon are Thyme Bar & Grill and Turning Point. For the sweet tooth among us (C’mon, you know who you are), there’s Newtown Chocolatier, now in 74

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its new site off of Richboro Road, and newcomers Caketeria, Nothing But Bundt Cakes and Sworl Handcrafted Rolled Ice Cream, behind the popular ice cream and coffee shop, The Zebra-Striped Whale, on State. But if there’s also one other factor that sets Newtown apart from other towns, it’s its farms. In particular Milk House Farm (milkhousefarmmarket.com), where Brenda Slack, 4th-generation farmer, has turned her family’s dairy farm into one of Bucks County’s premier vegetable and pastured-raised chicken and duck—and their eggs—into a paradise of healthy goodness. These and more Brenda offers in her market on the farm. Another not to miss is Birchwood Farms (birchwoodfarm-


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Above, The Newtown Theatre on North State Street. dairy.com), which offers organic artisanal cheeses; pastured-raised chicken, eggs and heritage pork; grass-finished Devon beef; and premium ice cream. For local wine, stop by Rose Bank Winery (rosebankwinery.com) on 76

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Durham Road (Rt 413) in Newtown for tastings of its estate-bottled wines. It’s also an unforgettable venue to celebrate events such as weddings and private parties in its restored historic barns. In addition, Newtown holds a much

treasured history of the founding days of our country. Along its streets, you’ll find markers to lead you on self-guided tours, such as the Newtown Heritage Walk, A Walking Tour of Newtown and the Revolutionary Sites Walking Tour (newtownheritge.org). Still, to say, Newtown is only a charming historic town is to do it an injustice. For it is much more. It has the vibrancy, panache and savvy of a New York neighborhood while still keeping its small-town friendliness. To prove my point, I offer a few walking tours of my own. For starters, map out a culinary one, such as picking several new restaurants to sample, starting with one for cocktails and then heading to others for appetizer, entrée and dessert. A Favorite Restaurant Tour can also come into play. Here I would suggest inviting friends who have never been to the restaurant to join you. With more than five ice cream parlors and as many coffee shops, I suggest a tour for


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Above, two beautiful examples of Victorian Houses in Newtown. each. Pizza lovers? Design a pizza tasting tour to find your favorite slice. Don’t forget to scope out a Happy Hour Tour—maybe just as a Girls Night Out. (Sorry, guys, you can create your own). Another is a Jazz or Music Tour 78

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since many of the restaurants offer live music). Or go international. Newtown is a cornucopia of cuisines, from American to Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Thai to Middle Eastern, Indian and South American. The possibilities are

endless. Although I am having trouble with one for a breakfast tour. If you figure that one out, let me know. DIANA CERCONE

IS AN AREA FREELANCE

WRITER WHO SPECIALIZES IN FOOD, ART AND TRAVEL.


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Visit Newtown Pennsylvania  

Newtown, with its 70 restaurants, high quality entertainment, interesting boutiques and shops, historic origins, small town look and cosmopo...

Visit Newtown Pennsylvania  

Newtown, with its 70 restaurants, high quality entertainment, interesting boutiques and shops, historic origins, small town look and cosmopo...

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