Best dining & ice cream spots reveal a culinary culture and playful panache of the Hershey & Harrisburg Region. From ethnic cuisine and locally sourced menus, to reinvented American dishes, the region continues to grow as a foodie destination. Then take on dessert at one of the top spots for organic & all-natural ice cream and signature sundaes.
Yum: Foodie Finds in the Hershey Harrisburg Region
Best Dining & Ice Cream Spots reveal the culinary culture and playful panache of the area.
Portions of the following content were adapted from original articles published on Pennlive.com and in Susquehanna Style magazine.
From flavorful ethnic cuisine to reinvented American dishes, the dining scene of the Hershey Harrisburg Region continues to grow as a foodie destination with exquisite dining options. Check out some of the best restaurants in Harrisburg & Hershey.
Whether you’re looking to grab a quick happy hour martini after your 9-to-5, or to sit down to a leisurely family-style spread, Bricco is sure to please. To start your dining experience, try any of their inventive Italian antipasti or spuntini freddi (cold snacks), including crispy squash blossoms with crab, roasted oysters with spinach fondue and smoked bone marrow crust, and roasted beet gazpacho with melon and goat cheese. Main dish highlights include “Bricco Cioppino” (a eco-friendly twist on the classic dish using only sustainable fish and shellfish), the dry aged ribeye, and an assortment of thin-crust pizzas made in Bricco’s on-site stone oven. 31 South Third Street, Harrisburg; 717-724-0222; www.briccopa.com
Perfect for a night on the town, this Harrisburg dining favorite finds its home below the popular downtown lounge and club, Level 2. The Asian Fusion menu is filled with innovative combinations, such as the spicy tuna tartare with sriracha mayo and wasabi caviar, honey-miso sea scallops and tea-smoked duck. With its extensive list of specialty cocktails, Café Fresco is as much a destination for lively conversation and libations as it is for fine dining. Try the Thai Basil Gimlet–a staff favorite of Ketel One, lime juice and fresh Thai basil. 215 North Second Street, Harrisburg; 717-236-7343; www.cafefresco.com
Carley’s Ristorante and Piano Bar
Rustic Italian classics are served up along with a song, at this cozy piano bar tucked away in downtown Harrisburg. Offerings range from cannellini bean and rosemary hummus and fennel and prosciutto salad to start, to pizzas and pastas (served single or family style) and entrees like grilled marinated tuna with sage and rosemary served with artichokes and sun dried tomato polenta. But it’s the entertainment Carley’s is really known for—from open mic nights to show tunes and sing alongs. 204 Locust St, Harrisburg; 717-909-9191; www.carleysristorante.com
Char’s at Tracy Mansion
Residing in an elegant 1913 mansion overlooking the majestic Susquehanna River, Char’s At Tracy Mansion is an American Brasserie with more than just a view. The Dining Room serves as the perfect showcase for Chef Ron Canady’s celebrated menu; the warm, convivial Bar features Sal Pantano’s spirited creations, and a Small Plate Menu; while the McKee Library is the perfect spot for a cocktail or to relax with friends for an after-dinner drink. The Gallery seats two large groups or can be reserved for a private affair with a rotating exhibit of blown glass and sculptures by artists Ona Magaro and Glenn Zwyegardt. In the warm months, the Veranda is the spot to have Sunday Brunch and relax with family, friends or the New York Times. Whether it is a formal meal for a special occasion or a casual light-bite, Char’s has the menu, the atmosphere and the welcoming service to make you and your guests feel special and satisfied. 1829 North Front Street, Harrisburg, 717-213-4002; www.charsrestaurant.com
Cork & Fork – Pizzeria & Wine Bar – NEW 2014
Cork & Fork, a casual pizzeria and wine bar with seating for about 50 diners, opened in September 2014 at the corner of North Second and State streets in Harrisburg. The restaurant, owned by Nick Laus who operates Home 231, Level 2 and Cafe Fresco Downtown in Harrisburg, focuses on innovative pizzas, meat and cheese boards, pastas, salads and wine; with most items priced in the $8 to $10 range. The casual restaurant has an open floor plan with a dining room, bar and mezzanine as well as outdoor seating. Diners are also able to order craft beers and handcrafted cocktails. The menu promises to remain simple but with selections that encourage sharing. Pizzas will be baked in an 850-degree oven and built from innovative toppings such as veal meatballs and locally sourced ingredients; and the mozzarella and pasta is made on the premises. The 21-wines by the glass selection vary from Spanish and French wines to California varietals. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.
Tucked away in a quiet avenue of the bustling downtown scene is El Sol—the city’s favorite Mexican spot. Lauded for its happy hour specials—including $5 margaritas and dollar tacos—this restaurant is a tried-and-true dining favorite. El Sol’s menu boasts some of the most flavorful items downtown, including chorizo tacos, carnitas and a variety of succulent ceviches. For an exciting experience, try the parrilladas—tabletop “grills” of meats and seafood you can share with your dining companions. 18 South 3rd Street, Harrisburg; 717-901-5050; www.elsolmexicanrestaurant.com
The Golden Sheaf -RENOVATED 2014
By fall 2014 the Hilton Harrisburg will have undergone an epic transformation as a result of a multiple year multi-million dollar renovation. The Golden Sheaf, located within Harrisburg’s anchor hotel, will remain the cornerstone of upscale dining in the Capital City but with a new emphasis on steaks and seafood and locally sourced ingredients ranging from meats to herbs. The wine list offers an impressive selection and makes for a perfect evening in the heart of Harrisburg. 1 North 2nd Street, Harrisburg; 717-237-6400; www.opentable.com/the-golden-sheaf
Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar - NEW 2014
Located at the Shoppes at Susquehanna Marketplace just outside of Harrisburg, this new outlet will opened in August 2014 with seasonally inspired steak, poultry, seafood and vegetarian dishes prepared with local and organic foods in a casual but upscale environment. The farm to table restaurant was created by Dave Magrogan to fill the need for today’s discerning families who want viable options for high quality, farm fresh menus created with healthy ingredients. In an effort to fulfill that vision, the restaurant is working with 75 local farmers to source the freshest and highest quality products available for their seasonally changing menu that features an under 500 calorie menu along with 50 wines by the glass and seasonal cocktails and beers. The restaurant’s commitment to being green continues throughout with organic cleaning products, recycled glass bar tops, and recycled paper products. Harvest is part of the DMG Group which operates more than a dozen restaurants under the names Kildare's Irish Pub, Stella Rossa Ristorante and Doc Magrogan's Oyster House. 2625 Brindle Drive, Harrisburg; http://harvestseasonalgrill.com
Mangia Qui & Suba
This snug midtown-Harrisburg eatery offers some of the finest European specialties available in the Susquehanna Valley. Mangia Qui, and its second-floor counterpart Suba, celebrate old-world methods of cooking while creating new and innovative menu items that change on an almost daily basis. Some of these outstanding dishes include bresaola—air-dried filet mignon carpaccio with porcini mushroom and fava beans, and nero veneziano—black linguine, calamari, baby octopus and tomato smothered with with luscious squid ink. Mangia Qui also has a must-try cocktail list, including Brazil’s native caipirinha and the punch-packing “firefly”: A combo of house-made habanero infused tequila, mango, Bacardi Limon, Midiori, lime and mint. 272 North Street, Harrisburg; 717-233-7358; www.mangiaqui.com
Mount Hill Tavern
If sophisticated tavern fare is on your menu tonight, Mount Hill should be on your bucket list to visit. This Colonial Park destination is housed in a stone building dating back to 1798, providing a hearty share of rustic ambiance with your meal. The offerings include twists on classic favorite dishes, like the “tavern crab cakes,” which are crusted in blue corn and served with a parsley caper remoulade, or the Delmonico steak with Yukon gold and fennel puree. In addition, their extensive beer menu, stacked with micro-brews, is worth the trip. 2120 Colonial Road, Harrisburg; 717-540-6840; www.mounthilltavern.com
Note – Bistro & Wine Bar - NEW 2014
Note is a European dining experience that opened in August 2014 in Harrisburg’s Midtown neighborhood with an emphasis on shareable, small plates of seasonal, locally sourced food with a modern twist and more than 40 wines available by the glass and bottle. The name borrows from both the tasting notes of food and wine, and musical notes. Owner Ruth Prall said she's aiming for a casual spot where diners and those in the neighborhood can stop by several times a week. The wine menu will be comprised of 95 percent old world wines from France, Spain, Italy and Portugal. Note will be open for lunch Thursday through Saturday and for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. It also will open for Sunday brunch. North Second and Harris Streets, Harrisburg, PA; www.notewinebar.com
Passage to India
Passage to India’s colorful dining room overlooks the Susquehanna River, but an enchanting view of the waterway is not all this Indian eatery has to offer. The expansive menu of classic Indian dishes has a personal favorite for everyone—especially lovers of piquant plates. Take the vegetable xaccuti [pronounced sha-ku-tee] a veggie curry seasoned with a serious kick. For those with milder palates, a sweet and creamy mango lassi is necessary to combat the heat!
520 Race Street, Harrisburg; 717-233-1202; www.passagetoindiaharrisburgpa.com
Rubicon - NEW 2014
In the works for more than one year, and opened in August 2014, the vision for Rubicon is best stated by co-owner Staci Basore as a "bar that eats like a great restaurant." The new eatery is located next door to the well-known Mangia Qui and Suba with a large bar where guests will gather for artisan cocktails and rustic French foods made with locally sourced ingredients. The rustic French theme means patrons will find braised meats and roasted chicken on the menu in addition to crafted cocktails from house-made sodas, tonics and seltzers. Rubicon will be open dinner-only seven days a week and also serve Sunday brunch. 272 North Street, Harrisburg; http://rubiconhbg.com.
Stocks on Second - RENOVATED 2014
If Stocks on Second is The Godfather spot of downtown Harrisburg’s Restaurant Row, then Papa’s got a brand new bag as of August 2014. This hot spot for dining and nightlife reimagined itself as a farm to fork Gastropub, with a bar specializing in American whiskeys and bourbons and an atmosphere that is relaxed and prices that are inviting. This new vision promises to bring patrons closer to their food, with a majority of the sustainably-grown ingredients sourced from within 90-miles, whenever possible, and by featuring the people who make the meal possible. The walls are adorned with wood from a mushroom farm outside Kennett Square, while the Amish-made table tops came from wood from a barn outside of Pittsburgh; and the hanging lights are made out of barn beams from a dismantled barn outside of Carlisle. The 40-bottle wine list priced under $40 and prohibition-era crafted cocktails pale only when compared to one of the largest whiskey and bourbon menus in the area. Try their own barrel-aged cocktails or a flight of whiskeys in a setting perfect for both an intimate dinner and a special event for up to 80 guests in a private room. Their accomplishments include the Mimi Brodeurs’ Five Fork Review, to the annual Simply the Best Awards for the Best Martini Bar, the Best Power Lunch, the Best Business Dinner, the Best First Date, and the Best Happy Hour. Stock’s on 2nd consistently provides quality food with excellent service. 211 North 2nd Street, Harrisburg; 717-233-6699; www.stocksonsecond.com
There aren’t many places you can go in Central PA to get escargot. Or dine in a 1755 brownstone mansion on the National Register of Historic Places. Since 1970, Alfred Pellegrini and his family have been serving up Italian classics as well as succulent seafood and specialties like the flaming Victorian salad. Some of our staff’s menu favorites are the portabella with roasted garlic and gorgonzola, and Mediterranean crab dip with feta and stone crab claws with creamy mustard sauce. 38 North Union Street, Middletown; 717-944-5373; www.AlfredsVictorian.com
Fenicci’s of Hershey
A Hershey tradition since 1935, Fenicci's of Hershey has been proudly serving up delicious Italian cuisine and American favorites for decades. Today, owner and operator Phil Guarno remains committed to using quality ingredients, many from his own garden located behind the restaurant; and he still offers some of the most treasured original recipes along with new, creative additions to please any palette. Join Phil and be welcomed as family for a delicious meal, relaxing atmosphere, and local entertainment. It’s easy to see why the Hershey locals love this place. 102 West Chocolate Avenue, Hershey; 717-533-7159; www.Feniccis.com
Harvest at The Hotel Hershey
Relatively new to the Hershey resort’s dining scene, Harvest features local ingredients from within 150 miles of the restaurant, in a cozy, casual setting. An arts-and-crafts-inspired space, dark wood, hand-scraped, rustic-looking tables and stained glass give a “lodgey” feel with a refined air of elegance in the details. The menu’s concept is genuine American cuisine. Many of the entrees classify as comfort food–and there are even daily specials reminiscent of a country diner–with upscale ingredients and preparation. Harvest at The Hotel Hershey; 100 Hotel Road, Hershey; 717-534-8800; www.thehotelhershey.com
The Mill Restaurant - NEW 2014
The Mill Restaurant and Bar opened at the end of the 2014 summer in a two-story mill that dates back to 1858, located off of Old West Chocolate Avenue in Hershey. The brick building landmark has been restored into a full-service restaurant and bar serving fresh, seasonal foods for lunch and dinner. Co-owners James Rafferty of Hummelstown and Bill Delinsky of Maryland are responsible for the two-year rehabilitation project to the mill which has been vacant since 1975. The new owners are maintaining the integrity of the building which boasts original wood beams and exposed brick, with natural light courtesy of oversized windows. The restaurant includes three dining rooms – one on each floor with separate bars on each level and a second floor mezzanine for large groups and private events. The new venture is a family-affair with Rafferty’s wife Jody and their daughter Candy Mellinger serving as manager. Chef Joe Mishler, who was hired from Devon Seafood Grill in Hershey, says the menu will focus on fresh, seasonal foods including seafood such as Alaskan halibut and Nantucket bay scallops along with house-cured bacon and house-smoked brisket. But they won’t limit themselves to any one cuisine. 810 Old West Chocolate Avenue, Hershey; www.TheMillInHershey.com
Named after Rome’s Trevi fountain, here you can sip sparkling Italian sodas, savor authentic pastas and pizzas: (Try the classic Margherita; prosciutto with figs, balsamic and gorgonzola; or the mushroom pizza with truffled whipped ricotta, crispy shallots and taleggio cheese.) Or nibble on plates of imported meats and cheeses to save room for desserts like chocolate cannoli tart, Nutella cheesecake, tiramisu and one our favorites, citrus polenta cake. Open for lunch, dinner and happy hour daily. Trevi 5 at The Hotel Hershey; 100 Hotel Road, Hershey; 717-533-2171; www.thehotelhershey.com
Yum: Get the scoop on ice cream offerings in the HHR from organic and all-natural to signature sundaes.
Chill Glorious Ice Cream - @ChillOrganic
Contact: David Eberwein, Owner/Operator
16 South Rosanna Street, Hummelstown, PA 17036
Its hours are limited – mostly Saturday afternoons – but Studio Chill regulars know to make the stop to stock up on the organic and all-natural ice cream. The 3-year-old artisan ice cream company headed by David Eberwein of Hershey recently opened a store front in Hummelstown. The ice cream is sold in six-ounce cups in wild flavors like Pumpkin Chai, Wild Lime Watermelon and Strawberry Jewel Buttermilk. Chill ice cream is made on the premises in small batches. The ingredients, everything from the milk sourced from a dairy in Farmington Maine to the brown eggs from Paul Sauder Eggs in Lititz, are organic. The shop also sells milkshakes, frozen mint lemonade and Space Cakes, which are two cookies sandwiched with Madagascar vanilla ice cream. check Chill's Facebook page for hours of operation.
Jigger Shop Ice Cream Parlor
Contact: Charles Allwein
202 Gettysburg Avenue, Mount Gretna, PA
The Signature Sundae: Beignet Sundae - $6.85
This creation is the Jigger Shop's homage to Cafe Du Monde, a coffee shop in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Two-and-a-half scoops of French vanilla ice cream are topped with chocolate sauce, coffee essence, two beignet doughnuts, powdered sugar, whipped cream and a cherry. Jigger Shop owner Drew Allwein wouldn't spill the beans behind the details of coffee essence, only revealing: "it's a strong coffee flavor imparted on the sundae." As for the doughnuts, they are made in house via an automatic doughnut machine. Allwein said the doughnuts are more of a cake doughnut similar to a Pennsylvania Dutch fastnacht. Of course, the crowning touch is whipped cream, a cherry and an obscene dusting of powdered sugar. He instructs employees "turn the cherry white, that way you know you have enough powdered sugar on there." Check web site for seasonal dates/times.
King Kone Creamery
Contact: Kolynn & Lynn Kelley, Owners
182 Hershey Road, (Route 39), Hummelstown/Hershey PA 17036
The Signature Sundaes: Gorilla Claw - $5.75 & Gorilla Split - $
Bacon lovers, here's one for you - the Gorilla Claw. The theme is gorillas at this fun, family-centric ice cream shop. Many of the ice cream creations play off of the theme. The Gorilla Claw is constructed from three scoops of salted caramel ice cream, one chopped chocolate brownie and lots of caramel drizzle. Then, there's the piece de resistance - a sprinkling of warm bacon pieces. Oh, and let's not forget, whipped cream and a cherry. "Gorilla Split" - This "Monkey" has 10 scoops of ice cream, 6 toppings, 2 bananas, a mountain of whipped cream, and 4 cherries. Bet you can't eat one! If you do, you will be photographed and entered in our special drawing give away. "No sharing!!" What is all this monkey business? Hours: Mon-Thur 1-9pm; Fri/Sat 1-10pm; Sun 1-9pm.
Phillip Arthur's Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor
Contact: Phil Guarno, Owner
108 West Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, PA
The Signature Sundae: The Kitchen Sink - $14.99
Arrive hungry. The Kitchen Sink is one whopper of a sundae: nine scoops of ice cream, six toppings, whipped cream and cherries, served with as many spoons as you like. Ordering it also comes with an extra bonus - your picture tacked to the restaurant's wall of fame. Owner Phil Guarno said by the end of the summer an entire wall will be plastered with pictures of those who have tackled the sundae since the restaurant opened. Guarno said he borrowed the sundae from the Kitchen Sink ice cream shops his father used to operate in New Jersey. His dad's name? Phillip Arthur. Hours: Mon -Thur 10:30am-10pm: Fri & Sat 7:30am-11pm; Sun 7:30am-10pm.
31 Landings Drive, Annville, PA
The Signature Sundae: Quarry Sundae - $5.25
Built from soft-serve vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, chocolate rocks and malt. The name borrows from the many quarries in the area. So what about those chocolate rocks? They are basically a version of an M&M, candy-coated chocolates shaped like little rocks, said Amanda Beachler, an employee. We think they look pretty authentic. Tuesday thru Thursday 11am-8pm; Fri & Sat 11am-8:30pm; Sun 11am-8pm; Closed Monday.
Urban Churn - @UrbanChurn
Contact: Adam Brackbill, Owner/Operator
250 Reily Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102 (available at Midtown Cinema)
This microcreamery is pumping out crazy, custom ice cream flavors. Take the Chocolate Covered Swanson, a chocolate covered bacon whiskey, or a chocolate Guinness ice cream. Owner Adam Brackbill is the mastermind behind Urban Churn. The inspiration for the ice cream start-up stems from Brackbill's Juniata County family who often makes homemade ice cream for family functions. He makes the ice cream six-quarts at a time in electric churns using all-natural and organic ingredients. Right now, you can get scoops of Urban Churn ice cream for $3.50 a cup at Midtown Cinema in Harrisburg or punch in your custom orders online at urbanchurn.com. Pretty soon, Brackbill plans to launch a monthly delivery service directly to customers' doors.