Sunday, October 21, 2007

Restaurant Review: Via Ponte, Stockton, NJ

You know that feeling when you have been out hiking, feel a little bit sweaty and dirty, but OK enough to sit down at a real food place and your stomach is very empty? It starts raining outside, actually pours down, and you are hungry and want something real and good and warm? This is what happened to us at such a moment.
We were in Stockton, needed lunch, and saw this little Italian place we had never heard of before. We walked in as the only customers, took a quick peek at the menu, saw "traditional Sicilian pizza" and decided to stay. And we were lucky! Welcome to the new restaurant Via Ponte in Stockton, NJ, which has only been open for six weeks.
We ordered two kinds of pizzas, with thin crust and cooked in a brick oven. Napolitana (right side below), with simple tomato, fresh mozzarella cheese, and anchovies was heaven on bread!! Second was Ortolana (no, not the sparrow), with olives (which I now happily eat), mozzarella, roasted peppers, artichokes and onion - also really good. But the Napolitana was the best. If you ever come to NJ, go to this restaurant. It is a lot better than Magma in Princeton, which is good as well, but this is really mouth watering. It is worth driving at least 20 miles for. It helps of course that Stockton is right on the Delaware river in a scenic area, and that the restaurant has a giant mural of a steam train on the outside. The old tracks are now a great bike path along the river and Delaware Raritan Canal. Bridge Street (Via Ponte) leads to the old iron bridge across Delaware River and Pennsylvania.
They have other traditional Italian food that we need to come back and sample soon. I am sure the kids will love their pizzas, which are so different from the American standard type usually filled with thick dough, cheap cheese and mass market tomatoes. So go to Via Ponte (13 Bridge Street, Stockton, NJ, 609-397-9397), and enjoy the real thing. Another review is here.

11 comments:

EH said...

This makes me think of another day and another walk along an old railroad track at High Bridge. There also we had a good meal. This sounds like a real nice place, I wish I had come too.

Miss you all!

LS said...

Mmm. that restaurant in High Bridge was fantastic. I can't remember the name though. High Bridge is in NJ, for those of you that don't know. Remember all the talk about pouring ice cold beer on the blister on PP's toe in the heat? And ice cold beer down our throat, in the end, at that restaurant? There should be some pictures somewhere from that place, maybe they show up on the blog.

EH said...

This post has a picture from our day in High Bridge, but not from the restaurant. http://pondpond.blogspot.com/2007/06/walks-in-new-jersey.html

O.K. said...

That pizza looks excellent!

LS said...

Next time you get here, O.K., you get to taste some of that pizza!

DrTastebuds said...

After yet another extremely frustrating evening at Via Ponte, I feel compelled to write. While the wait staff tries, the restaurant has been VERY understaffed on the weekends and disorganization prevails. It was 10 minutes after sitting down before we were recognized and we had to end up getting menus ourselves after another 10 minutes when none were presented--and this has happened on other visits as well.
The salmon with lemon was well prepared, but fish was well past its prime--a problem that has occurred on other weekend visits. While the pizza is terrific and was the reason we went there--it was the second visit that it was arbitrarily not served as the staff was manning another event in town. Of further frustration--diners who arrived after us (who gave their order about 3 minutes before us) were served pizza. Either it should be on the menu or not. The Bronzino fish was good but small and not served with any vegetables and only a very small side of pasta and seemed wanting in terms of its $30 price tag.
On Sunday evenings, there is the promise of live music, which proved to be such an awful experience and was so distracting that it disturbed what was otherwise a very good meal.
After at least 8 visits to Via Ponte-though the food is good (particularly the pizza when you can order it) with invariably poor and unprofessional service, high prices on entrees that rarely live up to expectation, it will unfortunately be the last visit there.

LS said...

Hi there DrTastebuds,

Sorry about your experience. Maybe we have been lucky to visit when there have been very few people there, and when there has been pizza. Too bad about their service and pizza problem, I agree, that would really make me feel upset too. They should have been able to fix that by now. And no pizza? Come on, that is what they are known for....at least in this household.

LS said...

PS. What I meant is that is sounds like Via Ponte really have to shape up, and they definitely should serve pizza all the time....

ralph said...

Well I have been there more recently and they still have terrible service problems. While the food can be pretty good at times, the place is disorganized and at times the staff is just confused and lacking in quantity and quality. The food is not cheap either. For this kind of money you expect better!

Darvin said...

Was amazed at how good this place is, especially with the mixed blog reviews. Was here this past weekend for a wedding rehearsal dinner with about 20 people. The ambience is great. The food is some of the best Italian (or any) food I've ever had, and I'm Italian. Every thing from the appetizers and main course to dessert was just outstanding. The lamb was perfectly cooked. The gellatto and sherberts are out of this world. Food is imaginative, freshest ingredients, and expertly cooked. Our waitress was a joy; informative, patient, humorous, and service was spot on!! Don't deprive yourself of this unique, terrific place.

LS said...

Darvin, thanks for letting us know. I really want to go back to Via Ponte soon.