The Morning Call (Sunday)
Say ciao to new eatery
Restaurant/market bringing authentic Italian food and chef with major culinary chops to Easton
A destination for authentic pizza, pasta, paninis and other Italian specialties has joined Easton’s rich culinary scene.
Mario’s Italian Eatery, selling unique Italian-imported groceries alongside freshly prepared Italian dishes, opened in mid-December at 669 N. 13th St., Suite A-102, in the Simon Silk Mill.
The 22-seat business, co-owned by friends Mario Famularo and David Siwy, features the culinary talent of chef Brinn Sinnott.
Sinnott, a Washington, D.C., native, boasts an impressive resume that includes working for Starr Restaurant Organization as chef de cuisine for Le Diplomate, a highly acclaimed French restaurant in the nation’s capital.
His chops also led him to work for Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Fabio Trabbochi at Spanish seafood and tapas mecca Del Mar in Washington, as well as legendary chef Jean-Marie Lacroix at Philadelphia’s Fountain at the Four Seasons Hotel and subsequently Lacroix at the Rittenhouse Hotel.
“The Lehigh Valley has the right conditions to germinate a next up-and-coming dining scene,” Sinnot said. “There appears to be an exodus of people from New York and Philadelphia who will create the demand for a higher caliber cuisine.”
Mario’s soft opening menu features pizzas such as margherita, funghi (local mushrooms, truffle fonduta and rosemary) and Campania (butternut squash, ricotta, sage and Calabrese chile honey), along with hot and cold sandwiches such as a cheesesteak, grilled sausage and Parma (prosciutto, mortadella, stracchino, arugula, pear and balsamic onions).
In the coming weeks, the menu will expand to include antipasti, arancini, grilled octopus, calamari and charcuterie boards.
“Our house porchetta is very popular,” Famularo said. “It’s pork shoulder that we roast overnight for nine hours and then add broccoli rabe and aged provolone.”
Famularo is no stranger to authentic Italian food. He’s a fifth-generation butcher who grew up working at Easton’s Giacomo’s, the landmark Italian market and grille that his parents, Giacomo and Gina, began in the 1970s.
For the past five years, he operated Jack’s Beach Grille in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, but got homesick and returned to his roots last year.
Alongside his parents, Mario uses long-held family recipes to make such Italian specialties as meatballs, sausage, marinara sauce and pastas like bucatini, fettuccine and fusilli.
Italian-imported pastas are also available, along with Italian meats, cheeses, coffees, herbal salt, olives, balsamic vinegars, extra virgin olive oils, peeled tomatoes, juices, sodas and more.
A centerpiece of the space, a threewheeled, Italian-imported Piaggio Ape compact vehicle, showcases other goods, including Italian biscuits, cookies and crackers.
During its soft opening, the 2,600-square-foot Mario’s, featuring exposed brick walls, polished concrete floors and industrial pendant lighting, is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily for grocery sales and noon to 5 p.m. daily for made-to-order items. Catering is available and delivery is coming soon. Info: 610-438-0311; marioseaston.com.
More foodie finds
From Italian to Mexican, a newly constructed Taco Bell eatery opened Dec. 30 at the former site of the Wind Gap Professional Center at 6695 Sullivan Trail in Plainfield Township.
Dueto the pandemic, the restaurant, just off the northbound exit of Route 33 near Wind Gap, is not yet offering dine-in service. However, customers can purchase their favorite chalupas, quesadillas and other menu items via a drive-thru window.
The fast-food franchise, owned by Summerwood Corp. out of Conshohocken, Montgomery County, supplements more than 7,100 Taco Bell
restaurants worldwide, including more than a half dozen in the Lehigh Valley.
Another fast-casual chain, Smoothie King, opened Tuesday in a newly constructed building at 2701 Mac Arthur Commons Road (in front of Giant) in Whitehall Township, according to a news release.
The shop, the franchise’s first Lehigh Valley location, is owned and operated by Humza Tanvir, who also owns four other locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Smoothie King was founded in 1973 by Steve Kuhnau, whose mission was “to help others achieve better health in a delicious way through smoothies,” according to the company’s website.
Today, the Dallas-based chain continues its “Smoothies With A Purpose” mission through its Clean Blends initiative that focuses on more whole fruits and vegetables while removing added sugars, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives in many of its blends.
Customers choose from more than 70 blends in four categories: fitness, blended with protein-rich ingredients to help you fuel up or recover faster; slim, blended to help you stay on track with under 350 calories for every 20-ounce smoothie; wellness, blended with vitamins essential to maintaining a healthy body; and break time, blended to help you reward yourself or simply enjoy the day.
The Whitehall Smoothie King occupies half of the MacArthur Commons’ newly constructed building, next to T-Mobile. Info: smoothieking.com.
Another foodie find: Nick’s BBQ, a 7-month-old mobile barbecue business, on Dec. 30 began regular operations at Lower Saucon Fire Rescue’s Se-Wy-Co Banquet Hall on Kenny Head man Lane, just off Route 378, owner Nick Binczak said.
Binczak, a Bethlehem resident and 2012 graduate of Saucon Valley High School, smokes meats in the parking lot and uses the banquet hall’s kitchen for prep work.
Customers can place advance orders, either online at nicksbbqpa.square.site or by phone at 484-858-0024, and pick them up 4-7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Extra food is available each day on a first-come first-served basis.
Nick’s, which also serves customers at public and private events, offers wood-smoked brisket, chicken, sausage, pulled pork and St. Louis-style ribs.
Binczak purchases meats from Lehigh Valley businesses such as Saylors & Co. in Hellertown and Nello’s Specialty Meats in Bushkill Township and also sources local produce and other ingredients for sides such as coleslaw, cornbread, pork and beans, cheesy Brussels sprouts and smoked kale with shiitake mushrooms. Info: nicksbbqpa.com.
Hellertown area news
A few miles east of Nick BBQ’s new digs, The Vibe Nutrition, offering mealreplacement shakes, clean-energy drinks, smoothie bowls and more, is expected to open Thursday at 650 Main St. in Hellertown, owner Mandy Molina said.
The fast-casual establishment will fill the space previously occupied by Offthe Trail, a “healthyish eatery” offering acai bowls, smoothies, artisan toast and more, that closed in November after a few months of business.
The Vibe will supplement Mo lina’ so thereat ery, Fuze Nutrition, which opened in September 2019 at 848 Nazareth Pike in Lower Nazareth Township.
It will be open Monday through Saturday and offer the “same exact menu” as Fuze, featuring offerings made with ingredients from a global nutrition company, she said.
Highlights will include clean-energy drinks (each containing Bvitamins and antioxidants and helping boost metabolism) such as pomegranate chai and mango tango; more than 65 flavors of shakes (each containing 21 essential vitamins and minerals, 24 grams of protein and less than 250 calories); “energizing meals,” each featuring a clean energy drink and meal replacement shake, and coffees and lattes (each containing 2 grams of sugar, 15 grams of protein and less than 150 calories) such as English toffee and caramel mocha latte.
The Vibe’s upcoming opening is good news for the borough’s retail scene, which lost another Main Street business late last year.
Lloyd Tactical, selling firearms and accompanying ammunition at 766 Main St., announced in a Dec. 31 post on its Facebook page that it had permanently closed.
The business previously operated for about a year at 1850 Friedensville Road in Lower Saucon Township before moving to its Hellertown spot in September 2019.
“As product availability is still extremely limited, we have decided to cut our losses and move on ,” owners Bryan and Beth Lloyd wrote in the post.
Odds and ends
For fans of wine and cocktails, the Fine Wine & Good Spirits store at 1247 Airport Road in Allentown’s Airport Plaza will soon relocate to 934 Airport Center Road in Hanover Township, Lehigh County’s Airport Center. The Airport Center space was previously occupied by Performance Bicycle, which closed in 2019.
“We hope to open the new store sometime around the 13th of January,” Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board spokesperson Shawn Kelly said.
The new store, totaling more than 3,700 square feet, will be larger and carry more products than the current 2,400-squarefoot store, Kelly added.
In celebration of the newstore’s opening, a sale featuring 10% off all in-store products will be held over the course of three days shortly after its opening, Kelly said.
Lastly, as my colleague Jon Harris reported this week, the Lehigh Valley’s fifth Sheetz convenience store and gas station opened Wednesday at 2298 Golden Key Road in Weisenberg Township.
The fast-growing Altoona company said the store, off Interstate 78, includes the chain’s made-to-order menu on its touchscreen terminals.
Sheetz, established in 1952, has 616 stores across Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland.
The opening comes about four months after Sheetz unveiled its fourth Lehigh Valley location at 100 Trolley Line Drive in Palmer Township.
Retail Watch, appearing every weekend, keeps track of retail and restaurant news in the Lehigh Valley. Contact Ryan Kneller at 610-820-6597 or firstname.lastname@example.org.