2017 is an interesting time to be a foodie.

Perhaps by popular demand, buzzwords like “artisanal” and “local” have slowly infiltrated almost every menu. Gluten-free options are plentiful, vegan versions are expected, and organic materials are sprinkled across ingredient lists. Portions are often smaller, poetic in composition—with thought given to qualities previously reserved for landscaping: height, accessibility, color, seasonality—and are usually accompanied by an unpronounceable aioli or sriracha-infused dip. Upon a table at most restaurants on any given night, you can probably find something old, something new, something truffled, and something bleu.

There is nothing wrong with this—gastronomical whimsy is one of my top interests. Sometimes, though, you want the familiar, not a plated sonnet. This is Adagio’s niche: all of your favorite treats from the shore without unnecessary fanfare. Somehow, this unfussy approach to food is refreshing, and sometimes exactly what your palate needs, as was the case for me. The menu reads like seafood’s greatest hits: Shrimp Cocktail, Calamari, and Crab Dip to Clam Chowder, Lobster Tails, and Beer-battered Cod. It’s like going to grandma’s house—you know it’s going to be good, and you know you’re going to be full.

The restaurant itself has taken up residence on Pembroke Road in Bethlehem, where a beloved neighborhood eatery of the past, Lantern Restaurant and Lounge, was once perched. It’s deceptively large, with a banquet facility that can accommodate 150 guests tucked beneath the dining room. It’s worth noting that Adagio is probably one of the cleanest restaurants I’ve ever been in, and despite the white tablecloths present for dinner, the vibe is casual and relaxed. Previously a BYOB establishment, Adagio scored its liquor license at the end of 2016 and now offers a selection of wine, beer, and mixed drinks. There wasn’t a cocktail menu, but I was told that they “can make anything.”

Back to the food: for land lovers who got dragged out to a seafood restaurant, there are other options: Peppercorn Strip Steak, Chicken Piccata, or Roasted Vegetables and Linguini. I’m a seafood enthusiast, however, and my eyes immediately stopped on the Calamari.

See, Calamari is one of my favorite appetizers. Whether I’m at a pier restaurant in San Francisco or a dive bar, if Calamari is on the menu, I always order it. From this repeated exposure, I’ve learned that it is, apparently, easy to mess up. As a self-proclaimed connoisseur, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ended up with rubbery rings or limp and greasy breading. That was certainly not the case here.

Adagio’s version was crispy, golden-brown hoops of cephalopod heaven. It came with three types of sauce: marinara, pesto, and Thai chili. The marinara and pesto were good, but I wouldn’t mind having a stash of the Thai chili sauce in my purse at all times to summon in most of my future eating endeavors. I also appreciated that in an era of tapas and tiny plates, the appetizer was piled high and then a little higher.

When it came time for my main course, I went for the Loaded Bacon Wrapped Scallops, partially because they were a special that evening, but mostly because every word in that title is usually indicative of something delicious and delightfully indulgent. Indeed, it was. The dish was six scallops covered in cheese with crisp bacon veils—the ultimate fisherman’s comfort food. Main courses come with salad and a side, and I got a baked sweet potato. It came with two accoutrements: Old Bay butter and what seemed to be a brown sugar and maple concoction. The Old Bay butter offered a savory bite of sweet potato, but the other option transformed it into a dessert-esque side whose distant cousin was once a vegetable. It was delicious.

Seafood is often seen as an extravagant affair, but Adagio keeps it approachable, affordable, and familiar. It’s not over the top, but it doesn’t need to be—it’s that good.

Adagio • 530 Pembroke Rd • Bethlehem • 610.625.3777 •

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