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May 4, 2008 07:38 AM

Sal DeForte's, ex-Chambersburg, now Ewing

Sal DeForte's Ristorante was a fixture in Trenton’s old Chambersburg neighborhood, which was once a regional dining destination for Italian food. Most of the old places have closed or moved, with Sal DeForte's among the latter. For the last year or so it has been in a strip mall in Ewing Township, which makes up in convenience and easy parking for what it lacks in local character.

With Mrs MercerChow and friends, I finally got around to trying the relocated Sal’s on a recent Saturday night. If the essence of the old Chambersburg was reliable, home-style food at reasonable prices in a family atmosphere with no frou-frou, then the transplant has been successful.

I can report on three entrées from the regular menu. The Medaglioni di Vitello Alla Francese was a well-prepared version of the classic veal dish, though the green beans on the side were flaccid. The Farfalle Con Spinaci included not only the bowtie pasta and spinach, but also cannelloni, mushrooms, and gorgonzola cheese – definitely a hit. The Linguine Puttanesca appeared to be a classic preparation, but turned out to be much spicier than expected – fine if you don't mind a little heat.

One diner ordered an entrée sized appetizer from the specials menu – mussels in white wine, which was terrific (would love to find out where they get their mussels from). But the real star of the meal was another special starter, Polenta Portabella, with slices of polenta layered with portabellas and roasted red peppers and covered in melted mozzarella. There was no room for dessert.

Tab for four was ~$90 plus tip, which all declared a good value. One other feature worth noting was the relaxed pace of service – not slow, but plenty of time between courses and never any sense of being rushed, despite the place being full on a Saturday night. Definitely will return.

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  1. I've been to Sal DeForte's as recently as last week. 4 of us enjoyed a really nice meal; reasonable prices and very good service. On a Thursday night, they were almost full. I love the fact that you can park right there; even though the shopping center it is located in offers no atmosphere at all. It's a place I wish were a little closer to where I live so I could go more often.

    10 Replies
    1. re: mschow

      Personally I was very disappointed with Sal D's the time I went. I didn’t think much of the food and the service was even poorer. I live just north of the airport in Ewing (that is close by) and can’t be bothered to go back.

      1. re: Will5352

        Lack of comments would seem to re-inforce my opinion on this place.

        1. re: Will5352

          I live in nearby Titusville and, if you don't go up to Lambertville, there's really not that many decent dining spots in the immediate area. We dine out about every weekend and have eaten at this restaurant many times and find it very good, very reasonably priced, with decent service and good size portions. Even though in a shopping center, the interior of the place is actually quite nice and comfortable if not bit loud at times. It is also always crowded (on a recent Thursday it was packed; had to settle for a 6:00 reservation) so obviously many are impressed. Likely many don't want to toot it's horn to make it even busier and prefer to keep it a bit hidden for locals. Don't remember seeing any advertising either.. Like I said we enjoy the place and we are regulars at most area restaurants (Mercer, Newtown, Lambert. etc).

        2. re: Will5352

          Thanks, Will5352. Can you elaborate on what you ordered that you didn't like and what was wrong with the service?

          1. re: MercerChow

            Since you asked, this is the entry from my restaurant diary:


            Oct 27 Sal De Forte’s – Ewing – The Trenton legend opened in Ewing last February as a BYOB. Proof that Trenton is going to the dogs. And Sal Defortes is not all that good. Just trading on its name. Noisy and packed tight. Even for a Saturday night it was much too busy and noisy when we went at 5:30. It would seem everyone comes early to beat the rush. Or, perhaps they think this is good. I don’t. I had the Osso Bucco special that was just OK. For a special it was un-impressive. Villa Rosa is just as good. Better. And Hector is a better waiter and the price is less. Our wait staff here dropped off the plates and picked them up later. No real “service.”


            I am an Osso Bucco aficionado. I have had good and I have had bad. This was definitely not that good. Not bad, but not good. Nothing to go back for as it was a not very "Special" Special. But the real clincher was the service. TOTALLY inattentive. A good waiter/waitress keeps an eye on the table. Sees your water glass is near empty, you are running low on bread, or you have finished you app/entree. The staff here did none of those. The service was really the worst aspect, so bad I have never gone back. To a certain degree I am willing to forgive food I don't like. Perhaps what I thought I was getting and what the Chef was cooking did not match, perhaps I just ordered something that turned out that I did not like. That's my fault.

            Shoddy service is the restaurant's fault. And it was bad.

            1. re: Will5352

              You should give it another try since there's not much in the immediate area. Perhaps it was an off night but wish more people felt like you do..then it wouldn't be so crowded.

              1. re: giant99

                I would rather drive up to Lambertville or New Hope then go back! They have plenty of crowds at Mickey D's - Doesn't mean it's good food or service. I feel the same way here.

                1. re: Will5352

                  I don't have the time or patience for overrated and over priced food in New Hope (but tourists like it). I'm always in Lambertville so it's nice to occasionally go to a place a bit more local and reasonable.

                  1. re: giant99

                    I agree - we never go to NH/L on weekends. Being that it is just a short drive we can go any week night we want. And you are right - Lambertville is better than New Hope. For reasonable try Villa Rosa - just down to the next traffic light past Sal D's and turn left. It's at the far end - almost - of the strip mall.

                2. re: giant99

                  It seems to me that there are a number of good restaurants in the West Trenton / Ewing area besides Sal DeFortes. How about Freddie’s Tavern, Antonio’s, Paulie’s Anna Rose, the Metro Grill, or the Revere Ristorante to name a few. I was never thrilled with the service at Sal’s when they were in the Burg.