Grilled meat and fish are the heart of Blackworth Live Fire Grill in Lititz
By Phantom Diner
In 2013, Budget Travel Magazine named Lititz, Pa., “America’s Coolest Small Town.” Lititz beat out well-known Watkins Glen, in the heart of New York’s Finger Lakes Region, and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, along the Mississippi Sound and the Gulf of Mexico.
Well, Lititz, located just north of Lancaster, is known for its shops, history, charm and quaintness, and is still pretty cool today. And one of the coolest places in Lititz is the Blackworth Live Fire Grill in the downtown Wilbur Hotel.
As you likely know, a live-fire grill is the best way to grill quick-cooking foods, right over an open fire. As you may know, the Wilbur Hotel in Lititz is very hip and takes up some of the space in the former and huge Wilbur Chocolate Factory, which dates back to the 1930’s.
The hotel is impressive; so is the Blackworth. The restaurant entrance from the street opens to a chic bar area next to a long dining room and a hallway running past the roaring-fire-lit open kitchen, along which you see the flames and feel the heat.
The atmosphere throughout is warm and inviting, a blend of brick and wood and fancy overhead lighting. Very modern, but very comfy.
Staff is friendly and helpful. The menu is smallish, which I always take a sign of freshness. And it’s a delight. The emphasis is local-sourcing and, as our server noted, protein. “Whole fish,” for example, is served only on weekends. So, basic foods, lots of meat, all creatively offered.
There’s a fun cocktail menu in the $12 to $14 range that changes. During my visit it included: “Cookin’ Cherry,” made with Bulleit Bourbon and house-smoked cherry simple syrup; “British Invasion,” made with Gunpowder Gin and Rosemary simple syrup; a Sazerac made with Michter’s Rye. There’s also a very nice selection of beers, and outstanding wines by the glass or bottle.
(I’d note, as an aside, Lititz makes for a great fall day trip. And the Stoll & Wolfe Distillery, just blocks from Blackworth, makes for a great stop-in during a day trip. It has a cozy tasting room offering flights of its spirits, creative cocktails, snacks and bottle purchases. You can check it out as stollandwolfe.com.)
Blackworth’s appetizers, priced from $5 for warm olives with orange zest, thyme and garlic, to $18 for a half-dozen East Coast oysters, included roasted cold-cut porchetta with grain mustard, a classic six-piece shrimp cocktail, beef tartare with shallots and watermelon radish, and lemon grass and ginger soup.
Our table tried a charred avocado appetizer ($10), interesting and nicely presented, with lime dressing and puffed wild rice. Also, a baby arugula salad ($10) with creamy Parmesan, which was large enough for two, three, maybe even four to share.
“From the grill” selections are the heart of the place. They range from a $16 fire-grilled burger, proclaimed by one at our table “best burger ever,” served with house sauce, lettuce, tomato and cheddar, to $180 for 36 ounces of sliced Snake River Farm Wagyu beef.
You read right. That’s two-plus pounds of delicious protein served with sauces, and clearly enough for three or four or even more to share. There’s also a porterhouse entree. Same size, served the same way, for $160.
Or there’s the “Meat-Stravaganza,” wagyu, sausage, chicken and mangalitsa pork, again a huge platter of protein, easily shared for $78.
Mangalitsa, known as the world’s best-tasting pork, comes from a hairy pig. The name is Hungarian for “hog with a lot of lard.” In other words, yummy.
Other grilled options include a seven-ounce salmon filet ($19); 10-ounces of the mangalitsa pork rubbed with coffee, maple syrup and cayenne ($21); a thin sliced 14-ounce New York strip served with whole garlic confit ($27); a half-chicken dish called “Happy Chicken” ($22) with smoked paprika and a white wine sauce.
The person at our table who ordered this chicken was indeed happy. I had the New York strip, which was excellent. Everything is a la carte. Sides run from $4 to $11 and include fries or whipped potatoes, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, cornbread, peppers and asparagus.
I found Blackworth an unexpected treat. A beautiful venue, right beside Lititz Springs Park and the Downtown Lititz Farmers Market.
If you’re a meat-lover, it’s your kind of place. You can even take the kids. There are usually two wood-fired pizzas on the menu, cheese or pepperoni, $12 and $15, respectively. If you’re thinking of a fall day trip, think about Lititz, and think about including the Blackworth Grill.
BLACKWORTH LIVE FIRE GRILL
52 N. Broad St., Lititz
Open daily for dinner, starting at 4 p.m., for Saturday lunch and Sunday brunch, from, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; reservations recommended