Are you done eating your way through the holidays yet? I am trying to ease my way into the new year by cutting back. The other day I ordered a very large piece of carrot cake for lunch and saved many calories by skipping the main course. I wouldn’t want to shock my system too much.
Part of my December splurge included indulging in a little cheesy pasta dish last weekend at New Cumberland’s newest BYOB. Zanelli’s Italian Restaurant & Bakery, located at 314 Bridge St., opened in the old Shugar’s building and is run by a brother-and-sister team whose great-great grandparents emigrated from the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy. The restaurant prides itself on making everything from scratch.
When we arrived last Friday evening, we were greeted by a genial host dressed in formal attire and stationed in the middle of the restaurant. He led us to premium seats with a view of the town of New Cumberland and once likely served as a display window for the Dingeldein bakery, which operated there for two decades.
The décor has been given a bit of an upgrade since its Shugar’s sub shop days, with warm wall hues, yet it still maintains a bit of a pizza shop feel, with florescent lighting, drop ceilings and white tile floors that add a bit of starkness to the space. Perhaps that will change in the future since they haven’t been in business very long, having just opened this past summer.
Pizza continues to be served there and customers can choose from a total of 10 selections, ranging from white, to pepperoni, vegetarian and Margherita. Zanelli’s also serves other casual fare like subs and paninis, but the purpose of my visit was to try their house-made pasta.
The server was attentive from the onset, visiting our table and opening and pouring the wine that we toted along, before providing us with bread to dip in olive oil while we perused the menu. Topping the list was a total of nine appetizers, ranging from wings, to calamari, to mussels and cheese fondue. Additional “starters” included a choice of six salads, ranging from chopped, to Caesar, to apple and endive, and our choice, the beet and arugula that was served with roasted red and gold beets, baby arugula, candied walnuts and goat cheese tossed in a honey/lemon vinaigrette ($8).
Nine specialty entrees make up the bulk of the dinner menu and include diver sea scallops, lobster ravioli, chicken marsala and steak pizzaiola, to name a few. The “build-your-own pasta” offers the customer a range of pasta choices like ravioli, spaghetti and rigatoni, along with a gluten-free pasta for a $3 upcharge.
Sauces include alfredo, garlic and oil, pesto, tomato, meat sauce, squid ink and a “Dead Lightning” vodka cream sauce crafted with a product from their neighbor’s distillery located across the street from the restaurant. To guild the lily even further, guests can add a range of cheeses to top it all off. Because no cheese is too much in my book, I decided on the rigatoni with meat sauce (Bolognese) with not one, not two, but three cheeses: fontina, mozzarella and ricotta ($18).
My dining companion decided on the chicken parmesan ($16) to satisfy a craving he’d been having for several weeks. To that, he added a side order of meatballs ($5).
The pace of service was just right, with our salads arriving in just a few minutes and entrees a short time later after we had each consumed a glass of wine.
Our salad was fresh and delicious, with just the right amount of dressing applied with a light touch to enhance, rather than overwhelm.
Our entrees met our expectations as well. His chicken parmesan was pounded thin and cooked perfectly to preserve tenderness while the savory coating had a light crunch. The side order of meatballs were delicately spiced and obviously handmade. He described them “as every bit as well executed as the chicken parmesan.”
My rigatoni was done al dente and served with a savory, meaty and delicious sauce. It’s not all that often that I order pasta in restaurants because I am quite capable of making a delicious sauce at home, so I am a bit picky in that regard. But I am happy to say that I can recommend this one without reservation.
Portions were more than fair, but not overwhelming. I was able to pack up some of my entree to enjoy a small lunch the following day.
To end dinner on a sweet note, guests should take a glance at the dessert case located up front where treats like tiramisu, ricotta cheesecake and cannoli, which are available for dine-in or to go.
With the closing of Coakley’s and other businesses in New Cumberland, it’s nice to see places like Zanelli’s doing a brisk business and breathing new life into the neighborhood. The BYOB is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Next Up: Lunch at Valley Bistro in Enola