Join recent transplant Joelle Shea as she discovers food in central Pennsylvania for the first time. Get information on the restaurants she tries, as well as recipes and cooking tips.
As a resident of the DC area for over ten years, I had grown accustomed to having my go-to restaurants: special occasion, casual night, drinks with friends, room with a view, sports bar...you get the idea. I had a place to go for my every mood.
So when The Husband and I decided to up and move to Central PA, I was anxious to find those same types of eateries (or drinkeries) that I could count on.
Thankfully, one of them had already been found for us: Bricco. Even though we had no idea we would move here at the time, The Husband and I decided to get married in Harrisburg two years ago. It's not as random as it sounds: since my parents were already living here, it would be easy and somewhat central for relatives and friends coming from Western PA, Maryland and DC. I had grand plans for a reception - historic inn, museum, or even ballpark. On the day we were visiting Harrisburg from DC to choose a reception site, we happened to stop in to the Mediterranean restaurant Bricco for lunch. We didn't leave before asking if they could accommodate a wedding reception.
Turns out,Chef Jason Viscount hosted his own wedding at Bricco, so he was game. We collaborated to come up with an amazing menu that our friends and family still talk about today. A lot. Many of the highlights of the reception menu - like braised short ribs, the mushroom and truffle pizza and caponata - are available on their daily menu for all to enjoy. Of course, The Husband and I went back to Bricco to celebrate our move to the area and found the regular menu and wine list to be just as spectacular. Among our recent favorites are the sage pappardelle (a wide, thin, long pasta noodle served with duck) and the ciopinno (pronounce chi-peeno, a fish and shellfish tomato stew).
We've also visited Bricco's happy hour a few times since we've moved here - with discounted drinks, pizzas and appetizers, it's the perfect way to sample what Bricco and the staff have to offer without splurging for a full meal. Whether you are part of a special event or just sitting at the bar for a drink after work, the staff is friendly and accommodating again and again (I went once with someone who had food allergies, and the staff was very patient and kind). Getting there is easy- we usually find street parking or park in the $5 lot across from Bricco's entrance.
Also affiliated with the restaurant is Ciao bakery and Olewine's Meat and Cheese Shop (a great place to pick up cuts of meat for dinner or have a hearty sandwich for lunch), so the menu is enhanced with opens from both of those eateries. Another perk to dining at Bricco is the support it gives to the community. Viscount likes to use Pennsylvania products in his cooking, and at the restaurant, bakery and meat shop students from Harrisburg Area Community College's Olewine School of Culinary Arts learn their trade.
So perhaps it's not fair to use Bricco as the yardstick by which I measure other restaurants, since such a happy day of my life occurred there. But the marks that Bricco hits time and time again apply to any and all restaurants: great atmosphere, professional and friendly service paired with quality and creative food that makes you want to come back again and again.
Bricco is my benchmark, which area eatery is yours? Which restaurant do you think is the best overall restaurant in Central PA?
Published in Hungry in Harrisburg: A community blog