A trip to Fairgrounds Farmers Market can be overwhelming for the unprepared.
There are sixty stands inside the Fairgrounds Farmers Market and at least 20 of them offer dine-in meals or snacks.
Even for Julie and I, deciding where to grab our meal is a daunting task.
On a recent Friday evening, we arrived at the market not yet knowing where to go. We surveyed our options as we paced up and down all of the aisles, hoping that something would catch our eyes.
That something was Monte Lauro European Gourmet.
The flagship location for the deli is on Mount Laurel Road in Temple (Monte Lauro is Italian for Mount Laurel) and is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays while the Farmers Market is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
One of the advantages that Monte Lauro has over other dining options is the common dining area across the aisle. On a Friday evening, when things are a little slow, there are plenty of seats to be had (you just may need to take a napkin and clean it yourself).
The selection is both limited and expansive at the same time, with eight cold sandwiches and five hot sandwiches, many of which are also available as paninis. There are also select salad options both as entrees and sides. The only other side available is French fries.
We placed our order, took our number and grabbed a seat. It was a short wait – maybe 10 minutes – until our number was called and I retrieved the tray.
For food being served on a cafeteria tray, it looked beautiful, especially my chicken cutlet sandwich.
Sliced in half, you could see the bright colors of the roasted red peppers and spinach that the cutlet sat upon.
I enjoyed the sandwich – particularly the roasted reds – but I wanted something a little more. The cutlet was OK, but nothing special, and I would have loved another slice of sharp Provolone.
Also, the roll was very good. It was heavy enough to soak up the juice from the roasted reds, but not too heavy to overpower the rest of the ingredients.
Julie’s homemade meatball panini looked just as good with beautiful grill marks on top, a hint of red from the marinara sauce and meatballs sliced perfectly for the grill press.
It was a good sandwich. The meatballs were solid though we’ve tried better. And I would have liked a little more sauce.
With little other choices, we decided to split a side of French fries to go with our sandwiches.
The thin cut fries were in the traditional fast-food style: skins off, cooked to a shade of golden brown and served in a paper bag. They were good and certainly helped fill us up, which is all you can really ask for from an order of fries.
Overall, we enjoyed our meal at Monte Lauro. It was fast, it was tasty and it was right around the $20 mark for the two of us.
I’d like to go back again to try the homemade sausage or one of Monte Lauro’s take-and-make Italian specialties.
Of course, we have many other stands to try first.
Price: Very Reasonable
Monte Lauro European Gourmet
Fairgrounds Farmers Market
2930 N. Fifth Street Hwy
Reading, PA 19605