La Cena Ristorante
Bensalem has come a long way baby! It’s been identified as one of the best places to raise a family, and if you take a drive through the township, you’ll see new construction sprouting up all over the place. And it’s not only new construction, but it’s shopping and restaurants that also are filling the landscape.
One such restaurant is La Cena Ristorante, on Galloway Road, in the heart of Bensalem. Directed by Managing Partner, Marie Leporace, La Cena has been one of the anchor, go-to places in Bensalem for many years. And its fine food and almost daily live entertainment has made it a destination for the greater Philadelphia area. Allen and I visited La Cena Ristorante this month and were not disappointed. What a wonderful respite after a long day at the office.
We’ve dined at La Cena before, earlier on and later when we first started publishing. But as anyone who dines out frequently can tell you, things change, often times they change with the Chef in the kitchen. And wow! Our meals were good before, but now, under the direction of Chef Roberto, it’s clear that La Cena Ristorante has hit another milestone in dining excellence.
As Allen and I were greeted by La Cena Manager, Sean Messick, we entered the beautiful dining room and couldn’t help but feel the warmth of the beautiful wood walls and trim. It felt comfortable and elegant, both at the same time. And we noticed the addition of two televisions over the huge bar, but found they did not intrude or distract from the lovely evening at hand. The bar is handsome and stately, and one can’t help but feel the camaraderie as people enjoy their drinks and the entertainment.
We were escorted to what was referred to as the “Mayor’s Table.” Apparently, the Mayor of Bensalem, Joseph Digirolamo, is a frequent diner at La Cena and is honored with a wonderful “perch” from which he can either greet people or have some privacy. I smiled…. I guess the Mayor wasn’t dining tonight, so the “publishers” took his place!!! (That’s about as close to politics as we’ll ever get!!)
We sat down and were immediately met by Sam, our server. He poured our water and let us know he was there to serve. He brought over some delicious hot peppers and crusty Italian bread. The peppers were wonderful but needed the bread to calm the heat! I loved them.
We perused the extensive menu and listened to the evening specials, made our choices of appetizers and entrees, and just enjoyed the sights and sound of this lovely restaurant. It didn’t take long for our appetizers to arrive. We asked for recommendations and let Chef Roberto do his magic and he did. A beautifully prepared plate of scallops, escargot and coconut shrimp appeared tantalizing our every tastebud.
For us, it was a first. Allen and I never eat escargot – nor had we ever tasted one. But as it was recommended and specially prepared, we acquiesced. It was yummy. Sauteed and served on a toasted piece of bread, the tiny morsel was surprisingly very good. And again, I only say “surprisingly” because escargot is not something in my, in our, dining repertoire. But the scallops…. now THAT’S a different story. I love scallops and it’s not easy to find them plump and tender. They were delicious. Lightly broiled, served on a small bed of the lightest of lightly mashed potatoes, I could have enjoyed them as an entree. I will definitely look for them on my next visit to La Cena. As Allen prefers shrimp, I left him alone with the shrimp provided. Of course he gobbled them up so fast, I didn’t have much choice!! Encased in a lightly fried batter of coconut, they satisfied my shrimp-loving hubby to a “t”.
Truth be told, we probably could have stopped there. The peppers, the bread, the appetizers…. but every food review needs to include some mention of an entree, and we had already ordered!
I ordered the Soft Shell Crab Linguini Fra Diablo…. a little lighter on the “Diablo” but still spicy enough to have a bit of a kick. The crab was sweet and tender and a welcome reminder that summer is almost here! The pasta, perfectly prepared al dente, was just the comfort food I needed that night.
Allen ordered the evening’s chicken dish. Prepared in a light wine sauce, served with brightly colored vegetables and again some lightly mashed potatoes, he cleared the plate clean. It was a dish he enjoyed thoroughly. Nearby, at another table, I couldn’t help but notice someone digging into a bubbling casserole. Our server said it was another evening special, the Seafood Lasagne. Even from another table it looked special. Filled with scallops, crabmeat and mussels, it could make any seafood lover a believer in heaven!
Need I say any more…. about how we enjoyed our meal, the ambiance, the service, the whole thing? But again, no dining experience is complete without dessert, and Allen and I had to go the full stretch this evening. He ordered his coffee and I ASKED for the dessert menu. With no printed menu for dessert, Sam presented us with the full display tray of what looked like the most amazing desserts…. P.S. They were!
Because I’m a sharer, I’ll share what WE ordered. Allen got an outstanding Cheesecake with Raspberry Glacee on the top. I ordered the Chocolate Mousse Cake. It simply melted in my month and I commented it could be served with an ice cold glass of milk. It, too, was outstanding. I also ordered the Ice Cream Bombe. A round ball of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, delicately surrounded with thick dark chocolate…. oh, my! My next trip to La Cena will be APPETIZERS AND DESSERT only. I must have room for DESSERT!!!
La Cena has a broad menu including soups, salads, pasta dishes, beef and lamb, veal and fish. They can accommodate small intimate groups and large gatherings, and they can do it with great aplomb. Allen and I know from personal experience, whether you’re dining as two or twenty, or more, service is top notch.
Marie and her crew has done a wonderful job at keeping La Cena at the top of its game. It’s not too often, a suburban dining establishment has live entertainment Wednesday evening through Saturday evening. AND, you can watch a football game while not disturbing those more interested in romance than sport!!
We had a delicious time at La Cena. Perfect for a work night, a weekend night or even lunch in between, it provides a wonderful interlude and change from the mundane. Check it out. Bensalem is a whole lot more than you think it is. And the folks at La Cena are proof positive that there is life, and outstanding food, and exciting dining a bit further from the city. Just remember to tell them you heard about them here, in the Uptight Suburbanite. They’ll appreciate hearing it.