Read about us in Bucks County


Read about us in Bucks County
La Villa
o faux frills, no fussy waiters hovering like humming birds,
just Southern Italian cooking at its best served in
comfortable surroundings. As one longtime customer told
me: “La Villa is Bucks County’s best kept secret.” But word
of its talented owner and chef Gino Lenti is spreading.
Mostly because of his tomato pie. Er, make that his ravioli al
aragoste (lobster stuffed ravioli in tomato vodka sauce), or
his Tuscany salad—grilled chicken and shrimp, goat cheese,
roasted peppers, walnuts and cranberries over a spring mix
and drizzled with balsamic dressing. “It’s addictive,” he says,
“I warn you.” His Italian lunch buffet is another, offering a
choice of four from an array of a dozen dishes, such as
eggplant rollatini and tilapia in a tomato and wine sauce.
The lunch buffet, he says, is very typical of Southern Italy
and along the Mediterranean. After sampling a few of the
dishes, I say to him: “Might be typical, but I doubt if I’d find
any better.” OK, so it’s everything, including his fresh baked
bread and garlic knots.
Gino grew up in Italian kitchens. First his mother’s in
Calabria, Italy, then his cousin Natale Presta’s in
Philadelphia, working with him in his Manayunk restaurant,
Bella Trattoria. They taught him about cooking, he says, but
when he learned how to make the Trenton tomato pie—its
dough a thin crust crowned with mozzarella, crushed
tomatoes and fresh garlic—customers came. Gino makes
the dough daily and tosses it himself. No mean feat tossing
it so thin. “Your hands have to really work … your hands
have to feel the dough … where you can stretch without
tearing,” he says. Even diehard DeLorenzo’s (famous for its
pies in Trenton since 1947) fans have deserted, crossing the
bridge to La Villa for “the best.”
He makes several styles, but his favorite is the thin
Sicilian tomato pie (same as Trenton-style but square
instead of round). As he serves it to me, fresh from the
oven, he says, “It’s so good, I guarantee, you have to have
one every couple of days.” I take a bite. The crust breaks
clean with dough that’s both light and earthy; the cheese
yields soft, not gummy; and the tomatoes taste like they’ve
just been picked. Before I leave, I place an order for Friday.
Location: 21 South Pennsylvania Avenue in Morrisville, PA;
215-736-3116;; B.Y.O.B.
continued on page 121
Spring 2008 • Bucks County Town & Country Living