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Carlisle PA

I will be visiting Carlisle for one night (Dickinson College tour with daughter) .
Piatto, Visaggio (in Enola) and Tavern on the Hill (in Enola) have been suggested. We are interested in quality of the food, not ambience; cost is not an issue. Which would you recommend based on recent experience? Your guidance is much appreciated.

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  1. I've eaten many many times at Piatto and Visaggio's (used to live in Carlisle). I would strongly recommend Piatto of the two, especially if your interested solely on the quality of food. Try the gelati (it's made in house and the flavors change almost daily)

    1 Reply
    1. re: corbs

      they are good but have recently downgraded their menu. another thing that is terrible is you can't even choose your side dish. I wanted to sub the side for a side of pasta and couldn't. I was forced to have polenta instead. If I wanted pasta I had to pay 14.00 for a dish of it. NO THANKS

      22 W Pomfret St, Carlisle, PA 17013

    2. Visaggio's is pretty far outside of Carlisle and IMO, not worth the drive. I'd give Piatto my vote. Another option a few doors down from Piatto is The California Cafe. you can always walk past both of the resto's to check out their menus, which should be posted outside.

      1. I agree with corbs and Boognish. Piatto is a great choice.

        Years ago, my sister attended Dickinson College. Without fail, once we discovered this restaurant, each time we’d make the visit to Carlisle, we'd eat at Piatto. (Just thinking about the seafood stew “Ciuppin” makes my mouth water!!!) The Victorian neighborhood is also beautiful to walk through.

        I’ve included the restaurant’s website. Your family will love the food!


        1. We always go to Piatto when we visit Carlisle. Menu is nice, atmosphere lovely. There is also The California Cafe www.calcaf.com which is french contemporary, and just a couple doors away from Piatto, but cannot say for sure if it is still good since we always book at Piatto when we take out son out to dinner.
          I would also recommend Back Door Cafe for casual lunch. The food seems so fresh. In August, their gazpacho is cravable. www.thebdcafe.com

          1. Well, I have dined in Carlisle. IMO, NOT a foodie destination. I ate at 3 places recommended on the Board: The Hamilton, The Back Door and Piatto. The first 2 were for lunches. Let us just say I would rather have eaten elsewhere. The food at the Hamilton was poorly done greasy spoon (and I do like"good" greasy spoon food). The salads and sandwiches at The Back Door were mediocre. Piatto for dinner was OK, at best, if you find yourself in Carlisle. The pasta was good, the veal was tough and the fish was overcooked. I did not have a chance to try The Calif. Cafe, recommended on this Board and by others.

            3 Replies
            1. re: mlzeats

              Wow, you must have REALLY HIGH standards to knock the Hamilton. I'm interested: What constitutes a "good" greasy spoon in your mind? Maybe Carlisle just isn't the right place for you or your family. And you're absolutely right, it isn't a "foodie" destination. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, but, really, what small town really is?

              1. re: jme90

                I do not consider my standards particluarly high. Our experience at lunch at the Hamilton were a tasteless cheesburger, fries that were limp and unappealing, a wilted salad, a tuna melt that was mostly mayonnaise topped by a single pat of processed cheese and a slice of pie that was gooey, blue and called blueberry by our waitress but would have been difficult to identify as blueberry by taste. The waitress was nice.

                1. re: mlzeats

                  I completely agree with you about The Hamilton. I've eaten there twice with friends, trying hard to like it, on recommendations from people who have lived in Carlisle for years. Some are even "regulars." The first time I went I got a "legendary hotchi dog" which was a rather small hotdog with nicely chopped onions and very greasy chili. It was nothing special at all. The fries there were fine, no seasoning, no salt, but I will say they were hot and the most edible item on my plate. Just be thankful yours didn't come out slathered with chicken gravy. What's scary is The Hamilton's take on Chicken and Waffles! Priced at over $10, it is a thin, Waffle House-style waffle (not belgian), with piles and piles of shredded chicken on top of it and then slathered in chicken gravy. No mention of chicken gravy atop this dish on the menu, btw. I had them remake it without the chicken gravy and it was still horrible. The rest of the food was so bad, I could not bring myself to try a dessert. What I like the most about The Hamilton are the cross-stitches they have hanging on the walls. All in all, The Hamilton is a real let-down unless you have low expectations.

            2. Two good restaurants that have not been mentioned are Rillo's (fantastic Italian food!) and the Boiling Springs Tavern. The Tavern has a yummy and unique menu. Other than that, California Cafe is also good.

              1. Save yourself the trouble and try Juliana's in Mechanicsburg (15-20 minutes away), Fenicci's in Hershey (25-30 minutes away), El Serrano in Lancaster (40-45 minutes away), or Nikko's in Hagerstown (1 hr to 1hr 15 minutes away). I've gone to school here for 3 years and tried all the places mentioned here by other posters, not to mention countless others. There just aren't any restaurants in Carlisle that have good quality food, even if you go to the places that are priced at $25-$30 a plate. That means driving...really far...to get decent food. I hope your daughter decides to go somewhere else for college, for her own sake. I don't know any students who are happy here that didn't grow up somewhere close by.

                2 Replies
                1. re: bpmammy

                  Well, let's hope your daughter isn't deciding on a college based on restaurant reviews of the area. Unlike the previous poster, I am a proud Dson grad who loved my four years (and came from the Philly area). I had great meals at Piatto, California Cafe, Marketcross, Rillo's, Back Door and Faye's for bfast. There is good food to be had if you are open minded. It's no metropolis, but has it's own charm!

                  1. re: KateForbes

                    We go up to Carlisle (from the DC area) about once a month to visit my mother-in-law. I think it's a charming town, and have enjoyed many of these same restaurants. I don't know much about Dickinson (except that my sister-in-law is a professor at the Dickinson Law School -- unrelated to the college), but there are always Dickinson families at the B&B where we stay, and the kids seem to love it. Obviously the other poster has a different view.

                2. There are also many chain restaurants close by also such as Cracker Barrel, and Applebees. There is a restaurant near the Army War College called The Sunnyside which has pretty good food. They also have a really clean kitchen I have a coworker who worked there and she said they keep their kitchen imaculate.