Thirteen restaurants in five days, you say? Relax, it’s not a requirement, although foodie overachievers like me may beg to differ. It’s simply what we do during events like Harrisburg Restaurant Week, being held Sept. 10-14.
If your lucky number is three, then you’re, well, in luck. This week will feature three-course meals for a mere $30. Now let me highlight a few of my menu picks.
I’ll be making a mad dash for the swordfish “meatballs” at Bricco, mostly because I’ve never heard of a swordfish meatball. They’re served in a puttanesca sauce with creamy polenta.
Speaking of meatballs, Carley’s Ristorante & Piano Bar naturally will have The Meatball as one of its appetizer selections. If you haven’t yet attempted this 12-ounce beast, complete with three dipping sauces, it’s time. I’d also try the filet mignon with warm panzanella, which is normally priced at $30 on its own, so it’s a bargain as one of three courses.
Sister restaurant Stock’s on 2nd will raise eyebrows with a vanilla-roasted salmon, flanked by citrus risotto, raspberry and hazelnut beurre blanc and goat cheese maitre d’hotel butter. Or see salmon swim in entirely different directions — Café Fresco’s wasabi honey-mustard salmon over chorizo fried rice and The Golden Sheaf’s Loch Duart salmon with soy yuzu sauce, bok choy, preserved lemon and cippolini onions.
For a little taste of home with a modern twist, head over to Home 231 for the mac and cheese with smoked ham, grilled leg of lamb with olive oil mashed potatoes and apple pie with homemade ice cream. It doesn’t get any more American than that!
Comfort food the Irish way can be found at McGrath’s Pub. Nothing warms the belly like a bowl of creamy potato leek soup, topped with aged cheddar cheese, bacon bits and scallions. Meanwhile, Appalachian Brewing Co. brings brewpub favorites to the table, such as grilled pork chops topped with apple chutney, served with sweet potato fries. Along the same lines, The Fire House Restaurant fires up prime pork with barbecue apple butter, skirted by carrot and apple salad and sweet potatoes.
Get cozy in the Italian cucina of Sammy's Authentic Italian Restaurant and dive into a plate of red snapper Calabrese, dressed with fresh plum tomatoes and olives in a white-wine sauce. Or take a stab at finishing a plate of tortellini pomodoro with crab meat at Zia’s at Red Door.
For slightly more exotic flavors, the grilled artisanal sausages — pheasant, boar, duck and lamb, red quinoa — at Mangia Qui are a must. The naranja roughy (orange roughy) baked in a banana leaf at El Sol Mexican Restaurant is equally striking, topped with sautéed tomatoes, onions, corn, peppers, garbanzo beans and pinto beans in a lime butter sauce.
How many restaurants can you handle this week?
P.S. When you’re done eating, come spend this Saturday, Sept. 15, at The Vineyard at Hershey for the Merlot Release Party, where its reserve merlot and red raspberry wines will be debuted. My very own Little Ditty Pops also will be available for cake pop/wine pairings. See you there!
Erica Streisfeld is the editor for custom publishing at Journal Multimedia, parent company of the Central Penn Business Journal, but she moonlights as a foodie and wino. Many people also know her as founder of the Harrisburg Cupcake Cup, a community cupcake competition that benefits the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, and owner of Little Ditty Pops. Follow her at @HbgFoodandWine.