Sometimes, the most interesting part of a restaurant discovery story is how you find them in the first place.
La Cantina, located along New Holland Road in the village of Knauers, is a place that I’ve passed countless times without ever giving it a second glance.
Now I’m a regular.
I started frequenting La Cantina on Thursday nights after a friend told me it was a venue for the Riverchasers Poker Tour – a free poker league that hosts events in bars and restaurants throughout the Mid-Atlantic.
The weekly poker events are held in the Pub, a smaller room located behind the main dining room. The Pub features a full bar and an assortment of four-seat tables and high-tops.
In the months since I have been going to La Cantina, I’ve tried many of the items on the menu. I am a big fan of La Cantina’s pizza. If you’re looking for a gourmet pie, this isn’t the place. If you’re looking for something with a little more greasy goodness, this is your place.
Of course you can get a full-size pie, but the pizzas are also available by the slice (always appreciated) and in personal 12″ versions.
Also among my favorites is the meatball sub. It seems like such a simple thing – every Italian restaurant in the county has one – but I just really enjoyed La Cantina’s version.
Four large meatballs topped with cheese and sauce, lightly toasted: not much different than anywhere else. But these meatballs were well-seasoned and perfectly cooked. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
After weeks of pre-poker handheld meals, I asked Julie to join me for a sit-down meal.
The restaurant features two dining rooms. On the right is the smaller of the two. One wall is completely covered in family photos.
On the left side is the main dining room. There were only a few tables claimed on our visit and the two of us had room to spread out at a table for four.
La Cantina’s entrees are served with a starter salad. It was nothing remarkable, except for the fact that I found a tiny ice cube in my salad. I’m not sure what ingredient was on ice before arrival, but safe to say I wasn’t expecting it.
A more redeeming dish is the homemade tomato soup. It was a creamy tomato soup that had just the right amount of herbs (basil chief among them). I would have gladly traded my salad for more of this delicious soup.
For my main entree, I went with the boring dish of spaghetti and meatballs with La Cantina’s homemade marinara sauce.
One look at it and I knew I would never be able to finish the whole thing. Three large meatballs topped the oversized bowl of pasta. A smattering of greens were scattered across the top of the dish for garnish – a nice touch to give a little character to the dish.
I have no complaints about the dish, though I found that I enjoyed the meatballs much more in the sandwich than on the pasta. I can’t say for sure what the difference was, but I could tell that it wasn’t quite the same.
The marinara sauce was good. It was thick and chunky, still holding the texture of the crushed tomatoes. With sauces like this, it sticks to the pasta in weird ways so some bites had plenty of sauces, others not enough.
Julie’s eggplant Parmesan was definitely a highlight of the meal. The breaded eggplant was tender and light. There was lots of cheese and plenty of sauce to compliment it.
Again, like my dish, there was no way that Julie would be able to finish this in one sitting so both of us had leftovers to take home after the meal.
On this night, our total bill was $36. When I’m on my own, I generally spend a little more than $10 for my sandwich, fries and iced tea.
Poker brought me into La Cantina for the first time. Good food and an attentive wait staff keeps me coming back every week.
You’ll know where to find me on Thursday nights.
La Cantina Family Restaurant & Pub
4312 New Holland Rd
Mohnton, PA 19540