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Dining Out: Sauces made from Sicilian family recipes


Filippo Magnano was 23 when he opened his first pizzeria. Thirty years and several restaurants later he bought the Ottsville Inn in Ottsville, which he transformed into a family-friendly Italian restaurant that draws customers from as far away as Easton.

“I serve what I would want to eat,” says Magnano of the Old World-style Italian dishes that are the mainstay of his Continental menu. His sauces come from family recipes from his years growing up in Sicily, and customers’ favorite dishes range from sea scallop and shrimp scampi to veal saltimbocca to chicken parmigiana and cacciatore.

When Magnano took over the circa 1783 Ottsville Inn nearly 13 years ago it was considered a fine dining destination. After renovating the interior with dark woods and a hand-painted mural, he did away with tablecloths to create a more casual, family-friendly atmosphere. Adding pizza to the menu – thin crust and Sicilian – made it even more enticing for families.

In addition to a main menu of Italian favorites in the dining room, a bar menu includes small plates such as fried ravioli and gnocchi, steamed clams, sautéed calamari, mussels and mozzarella sticks. The bar menu also includes pizzas and burgers as well as stuffed portabella mushrooms and lobster ravioli. Customers can order from the bar menu in the dining room and at the bar.

An extensive menu of white and red wines is offered at the bar, where customers also can choose bartender Dylan Kennedy’s weekly cocktail specials. Geared toward what’s in season, lately he has been crafting drinks with local blueberries. But one customer favorite was his PBR Fizz, which includes pineapple puree, basil, rum and lime. “People are still asking for it,” Kennedy said.

Magnano prides himself on using only fresh ingredients in his restaurant, and this time of year that includes vegetables and herbs from his garden behind the inn and from local farms.

Magnano’s green thumb extends to the front porch, where his well-tended flower garden is a riot of colorful flowers.

The Ottsville Inn has live music on weekends, and many of the performers are local favorites.

The inn was built in 1783 as the Red Hill Hotel, at a time when the town was called Red Hill. It became a restaurant in 1873 and has been operating as one since then.

Ottsville is among Bucks County’s oldest towns. It is located slightly off the beaten path, on a section of Durham Road that runs parallel to Route 611.