NEWTOWN SQUARE–The Newtown Grill is going back to its roots. The Italian-American restaurant is bringing back the authentic Italian cuisine and transforming the restaurant to Casale, translated to "farmhouse" in English.
As far as traditions go, co-owner Marco Tarantino said the restaurant has changed its name and concept every six years or so. And for 2012, it will be no different. "It's due for a change," said Tarantino.
In 1924, the farmhouse on the restaurant property was owned by Ludwig T. Brehm, the Danish Consul (appointed by Denmark to serve his country’s citizens and business interests), according to the restaurant's website.
According to the website, C. Kenneth Hobson purchased the property in 1950 and made his home there until 1961 when he sold the house and the grounds to Carl L. Friedel, the owner of the then Newtown Squire restaurant. In 1994, according to the restaurant, the Friedel family sold the Newtown Squire, a landmark restaurant for almost 35 years to Alberto Guadagnini who changed it into a classic Italian restaurant: Alberto’s Newtown Squire.
Alberto's partners, Marco Tarantino and Alfredo Giannaccari, purchased the property and restaurant from their senior partner. And, since then, the restaurant has undergone a few name changes, including Alberto's Italian Steakhouse and to the most recent The Newtown Grill in 2007. But the restaurant is officially changing it to Casale to highlight, among many things, the old farmhouse that was once on the property.
To its core, Chef Michael Rigney said the restaurant has always served Italian cuisine on its menu but over the years the menu has expanded and began serving other American-style dishes like burgers.
"It was confusing to people," said Rigney, who shared that many diners had the notion the restaurant was still a steakhouse while others came looking for Italian-American items on the menu.
"Some people weren't satisfied with the Grill menu," said Tarantino about The Newtown Grill. "People were looking for more Italian items. That's why we're bringing back a classic, traditional menu but with a modern touch."
Tarantino also added that the restaurant doesn't want to be stuffy. Instead, they're hoping people will come here as a dining destination that's comfortable for the whole family serving local ingredients in traditional Italian meals.
From Inside Out
The restaurant is cleaning house–from employees to the menu–and starting fresh. The main dining room has already gone through some changes. Casale is highlighting its rustic historic building from the ceiling to the floor.
Patrons may already be able to see two large wine barrels in the middle of the main dining room with a "chef's table," a tray of handmade, crusty Italian bread, a charcuterie board of prosciutto, salumi, and more. Chef Rigney hopes to display a whole fish on the tray soon, where he will demonstrate filleting a fish.
Casale will specialize in handmade gnocchi, classic and contemporary dishes of veal and chicken, and Certified Angus Beef steaks, aged by the chefs. In addition, the menu will have significantly more seafood options, about five to six different fishes, said Rigney. Dover sole and branzino will be offered daily and filleted table side.
And the restaurant is boosting its "farm to table" concept, using more local and fresh ingredients to enhance its Roman and Neapolitan recipes like the Stracciatella soup, which uses organic spinach from Lancaster County, and the red snapper in Acqua Pazza, which uses vegetables grown on Berkshire Farm.
From now until Sept. 30th, The Newtown Grill is participating in Main Line Restaurant Week but patrons can preview a taste of Casale's new menu during lunch with their gourmet lunch buffet.
According to Tarantino, Casale will launch a sample menu this weekend. The transformation of Casale is expected to be completed in approximately two weeks.