A Ca Mia Italian Restaurant

A Ca Mia Italian Restaurant

By Cathy Kiley
Photo By Ryan Hulvat

What can I say? Chef Paolo Nota has done it again. He has opened yet another eatery off the beaten path and his numerous devotees continue to seek him out to enjoy a taste from his large, diverse Italian menu. Formerly of Pane e Vino and Paolo’s (Northampton), Chef Paolo has been entertaining diners in the Lehigh Valley for over 20 years with his uniquely prepared veal, chicken, seafood, pasta and vegetable creations.

This latest installment in Paolo’s culinary journey, A Ca Mia, is located in the former home of Country Springs Farmers’ Market at Lehigh Towne Center on Lehigh Drive in Walnutport. The bustling dining room was completely packed on the Wednesday night we visited and many were enjoying al fresco dining along the walk. A Ca Mia translates as “at my house” and inside, the Amish-made oak and black tables fill a large homey dining room with attractive flooring and colorful prints on the walls. The focal point of the room is the busy large open kitchen where you can grab a peek and a quick word with Chef as he prepares each of his specialties from scratch with only the freshest ingredients.

Besides bringing his assistant Chef Eric Murphy (a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America) and a few long-standing wait staffers, everything at A Ca Mia is new. That includes Kim, their restaurant manager, and the fact that they now take reservations which, except for groups of eight or more, is something they never did before. That’s always a favorable feature for me.

We were promptly seated at our reserved table and Sarah arrived with menus and presented the numerous specials available that evening. A Ca Mia is BYOB so Sarah also opened our bottle of Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro 2006 Chianti Classico that was perfect with the meal.

There are at least 20 items on the appetizer menus that include crabmeat stuffed avocado, drizzled with lemony extra virgin olive oil and ginger served on top of fresh greens; fresh mozzarella salad with artichoke hearts and roasted peppers in an olive oil basil vinaigrette; homemade mozzarella sticks with tomato coulis; coconut shrimp in a butter zesty lemon sauce with flambe orange and grapes over greens and grilled Portobella with brie and crabmeat to name a few. Pasta and seafood appetizers are also listed.

We ordered a wonderful starter – Insalata de Mare for two. This cold antipasti selection of fresh seafood included generous portions of sea scallops, shrimp, clams, mussels and calamari served with sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, black olives and roasted peppers over mixed greens and topped with an olive oil vinaigrette. We loved this dish. The seafood was very fresh and the accompanying vegetables were perfect without overpowering the taste of the fish. Sarah brought a basket of hot buttery dinner rolls and two dipping oils that were perfect.

Dinner salads are included with every meal but Tom passed on his and I opted to taste the Corn Chowder, which was one of the evening’s soups in addition to Cream of Mushroom. The rich chowder arrived boiling hot and was loaded with sweet corn along with chunks of potatoes and carrots. It was delicious.

The dinner menu at A Ca Mia consists of nearly 60 selections including pastas, seafood, veal, chicken and vegetarian dishes. All pastas are homemade and include ravioli, tortellini, spaghetti, penne and bowtie all served up with interesting choices of sauces and accompaniments. Shrimp is prepared in just about every way you can imagine. Blackened tuna as well as Salmon Oscar with crabmeat, asparagus and brandy cream crossed my mind but the selections from “Paolo’s Favorites” menu listing 12 items that are considered house specialties caught both Tom and my attention.

Tom ordered the Tortellacci, a very large tortellini stuffed with braised veal and beef sautéed in an old-fashioned French onion demi-glace white wine sauce smothered with parmigiano reggiano and toasted homemade focaccia. Each tortellini was huge and filled with the braised meats. The sauce had a taste similar to that of French onion soup with a touch of tomato. Very interesting. I ordered the Veal Ravioli Salviati. The delicious veal-stuffed pockets were smothered in a butter sage sauce topped with crabmeat, shrimp, shitake mushrooms and Italian cheeses.

Our meals were very good and portions so generous that over half of both went home with us to enjoy another day. I would like to point out that every dish is freshly prepared individually and from my previous experiences at Paolo’s restaurants, I can attest that he takes a different spin on many dishes that you may be familiar with from other restaurants. A particular dish may arrive differently from what you expect. However, there are so many dishes to choose from here why not try one of Paolo’s original creations and experience a new blend of spices and flavors instead of the same old dish you order all the time! Paolo very often uses artichokes, mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and peppers as well as crabmeat in many of his dishes so be careful if you have an allergy to or dislike any of these ingredients.

Not very hungry? Along with the dinner menu, you can choose from their extensive salad and sandwich menu listing a barrage of interesting specialty sandwiches and there are plenty of choices for the kiddies on their Children’s Menu.

Dessert was upon us and I simply could not walk out without having Paolo’s Tiramisu which I had tasted before and truly believe is one of the best in the Lehigh Valley. The ladyfingers layered with mascarpone custard are well-soaked in a bit of rum and coffee, topped with whipped cream, dusted with chocolate and to die for. I ordered it served with cappuccino and it was a perfect ending to my meal. Tom ordered espresso and both his and my coffees were piping hot and delicious. The cappuccino was served in a whimsical hand-painted glass cup from Italy in an adorable metal holder that I found very lovely. Other desserts on the tray that night included carrot cake, key lime pie, chocolate torte, a variety of cheesecakes and two flan choices.  Most of the desserts at A Ca Mia are house made and plans are in the works to open a bakery next to the restaurant using only Paolo’s recipes for his delicious breads, rolls and desserts.

Owner/Chef Palo Nota has a degree in food preparation and nutrition from the Istituto Professionale Alberghiero di Torino, Italy.  He has owned and operated restaurants on two continents and continues to garner kudos for his new and innovative approach to the art of cooking as well as his warm hospitality. Paolo is delightful and I was pleased to stop by his busy open kitchen to say “hello” after dining. He believes that part of the success of all of his eateries is that they cater to families, allowing them an enjoyable night out with very good, uniquely prepared food at a fair price. I agree.

We had a very pleasant evening at A Ca Mia. Our meals were very good and the service was excellent – Sarah was friendly and professional. Again, there is something to enjoy for everyone here from one of Paolo’s many menus. It’s a fun place – bring a bottle of vino, sit and enjoy.

A Ca Mia is located at 4330 Lehigh Drive (Route 248) in the Lehigh Towne Center in Walnutport.  Log onto acamiapa.com for menu, directions and other information. Call 610.760.3207 for reservations.

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