Local Foodie Favorites: Discover Lehigh Valley’s Staff Dishes on Favorites
January 22nd, 2015 posted by Kim Lilly
Looking for some great Lehigh Valley restaurant suggestions? We’ve got you covered! The 11-person staff at Discover Lehigh Valley has a wide culinary palate for anything from fine dining and pub fare to sweets and treats.
I’ve taken the liberty to corral the team and have them tell me what their favorites are and why you should go devour them … immediately!
Chicken Bellissimo with Pasta
Michael Kuzy, Director of Sports Marketing: Bellissimo Ristorante’s Chicken Bellissimo with pasta is a must-try because of all the healthy and filling ingredients (grilled chicken, penne pasta, artichoke hearts, red peppers and sundried tomatoes, if asked for). Let’s face it … anyone can put together a tasty chicken and pasta dish, but the creamy roasted red pepper sauce is what makes this one great … besides the healthy portions. And, of course, lots and lots of parmesan cheese! Romano cheese is available for those of you who prefer a little more kick.
Fun Fact: Be sure to check out Bellissimo’s outdoor dining court if the weather is nice. Mangia, Mangia!
Bellissimo Ristorante | 1243 Tilghman St. | Allentown
610-770-7717 | BellissimoRistorante.com
Old Forge-Style Pizza
Ryan Hogan, Director of Marketing: As a Scranton native, it is often difficult to find real pizza in Lehigh Valley. Well, I’m here to tell you that the best pizza in Lehigh Valley can be found at Fratzola’s Pizza in Bethlehem. The owner, Frank, is a Scranton native as well, and brought a traditional Old Forge-style pizza recipe to Lehigh Valley. Call ahead as the tray (that’s what their pie is referred to) is made from scratch and takes about a half hour. It’s definitely worth the wait.
Fun Fact: This is a BYOB restaurant. Bring your own bottle & they’ll supply the glasses.
Fratzola’s Pizzeria Cafe | 2910 Easton Ave. | Bethlehem
610-419-3443 | FratzolasPizza.com
Chicken Lettuce Cups
Jason Stershic, Web Geek: The best Lehigh Valley appetizer has to be the Chicken Lettuce Cups at Asia. Crisp lettuce cups layered with stir-fried minced chicken, water chestnuts, onions, snow pea pods, carrots, crackling rice noodles and topped with crushed peanuts. It is served with three dipping sauces: Spicy Sichuan, Ginger Peanut and a fresh Basil Cashew. It is great as an appetizer to share or as a meal for yourself! It’s all fresh and the sauces are amazing.
Fun Fact: Asia was on the Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in the U.S. in 2013
Asia | 1102 E. Susquehanna St. | Allentown
610-798-7777 | AsiaOrientalCuisine.com
Mike Stershic, President: The Chopped Salad from Emeril’s Chop House is unique in its own way. The combination of the crispy greens and the buttermilk dressing makes the salad. But, they also add a cave-aged cheddar cheese, edamame and cherry tomatoes; which kicks it up a notch from others. It’s both fresh and delicious.
Fun Fact: Emeril Lagasse operates three restaurants at Sands Bethlehem.
Emeril’s Chop House
Sands® Bethlehem | 77 Sands Blvd. | Bethlehem
877-SANDS77 (726-3777) | PaSands.com
Nancy Signorovitch, Director of Partner Relations: The Salmon Tartare with red onion and caper remoulade, served on housemade potato chips with pommery mustard aioli from Tapas on Main, Bethlehem is my favorite! This tapas dish is a flavor and texture sensation not to be missed. The coolness of the salmon and remoulade sandwiched between two warm waffle chips is the perfect combination. Fair warning … if I agree to share this dish, I will always take three of the five served on the board.
Fun Facts: Enjoy one of eight seasonal sangrias at any given time!
Tapas On Main | 500 Main St. | Bethlehem
610-868-8903 | TapasOnMain.com
Kaitie Burger, Sales & Marketing Representative: Weekends call for brunch, and no one does it better than Billy’s Downtown Diner. With two locations (Allentown and Bethlehem) offering up delicious breakfast and lunch items, there’s always something new to try. One of my favorites is the Tonga Toast: two giant slices of French toast covered with strawberries, bananas, and vanilla yogurt. A dusting of cinnamon makes the perfect finish to this tasty dish. Be sure to save time for a post-meal nap after this treat!
Fun Fact: Billy, the owner, is related to Criss Angel, the Mindfreak!
Papaya Salad & Thai Basil Shrimp
Jennifer Mann, Tourism Sales Representative: The Papaya Salad & Thai Basil Shrimp from Thai Thai II is my choice because I like it spicy! The Papaya Salad has green beans, shrimp and crushed peanuts tossed in a light vinaigrette dressing. It is the perfect combination of sweet and spicy based on your degree of choice. The Thai Basil Shrimp is infused with fresh basil and vegetables. It’s healthy with a great sized portion and served with white or brown rice. You should have enough for seconds, too!
Fun Fact: You also don’t want to miss out on the Drunken Noodles!
Thai Thai II | 509 Main St. | Bethlehem
Upside Down Pizza
Debbie Snyder, Receptionist: We stopped in at Colonial Pizza and Spaghetti House at on our way to Live at Riverside to see Slicked up Nines perform. Our friendly waitress filled us in on their history, and what was their specialties are. We had their famous upside down pizza, cheese on the bottom and sauce on top, and their delicious Antipasta Salad!
Fun Fact: Colonial Pizza and Spaghetti house has been in business for over 60 years!
Ed Eppler, Director of Finance: The Kotopoulo Pitaki from Yianni’s lunch menu is my choice! It is grilled chicken, steamed spinach, roasted garlic, fresh tomatoes and feta on a grilled pita for $9. I order this with the sautéed zucchini rather than fries, making it a healthy and very satisfying lunch. The grilled chicken is spiced perfectly, and the mixture of spinach, feta, and fresh tomatoes is a perfect complement that adds a classic Greek flavor to the dish. Their pita is very fresh and a bit thicker than most pita I’ve had. If asked, they will prepare this disassembled, so I can eat it at lunch with a knife and fork – much neater than as a sandwich!
Fun Fact: You can order flambéed cheese, known as Saganaki!
Yianni’s Taverna | 3760 Old Philadelphia Pike | Bethlehem
610-867-8821 | YiannisTaverna.com
Kim Lilly, Executive Vice President:If you’re craving Middle Eastern cuisine, you cannot overlook Aladdin located in Allentown. From the décor to the authentic menu items by this Syrian family-owned restaurant, this is one of my favorites. I typically start my meal with the Special Maza which feeds four. There’s a combination of 12 different appetizers, from hummus and babaganoush to spinach pie and tabouli served with the best warmed pita bread in town. I then follow it up with Ed’s Favorite. This entrée is a combination of shish kabob (chicken, lamb, or beef) and shish taouk served with a side of babaganoush (you can never go wrong with too much of this stuff!). All entrees are also served with a side of rice and a house salad with the lightest of lemony dressings. Tell Sam and Violet we sent you!
Fun Fact: Go on a Saturday night for live belly dancing!
Aladdin | 651 Union Blvd. | Allentown
610-437-4023 | AladdinLV.com
Putting this post together was very challenging for the staff because there are so many wonderful places to choose from in Lehigh Valley. That being said, and since I am a foodie to the extreme, I’m going to give you a few more of my personal favorites in a Top Five Foods to Try List in no particular order. You’ll just have to trust me on these!
1. Gorgonzola Salad with Chicken from The Brick Pizzeria Restaurant & Bar, 1 W. Broad St., Bethlehem, 610-419-1141, thebrickpa.com
2. Lobster Roll from The 3rd & Ferry Fish Market, 56 S. Third St., Easton, 610-829-1404, thirdandferry.com
3. Ed’s Favorite from Aladdin Restaurant, 651 Union Blvd., Allentown, 610-437-4023, aladdinlv.com
4. Gypsy Chicken from Porters’ Pub, 700 Northampton St., Easton, 610-250-6561, porterspubeaston.com
5. Gulf Shrimp Po’ Boy from The Hamilton Kitchen & Bar, 645 W. Hamilton St., Allentown, 610-433-3535, thehamiltonkitchen.com
To find out more about these locations and others, visit DiscoverLehighValley.com/Eat. You can also watch our “DISHcover Lehigh Valley” short video series about some other featured restaurant locations by clicking here. What are your favorite dishes from Lehigh Valley restaurants?