Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2015 6:30 am | Updated: 1:50 pm, Wed Aug 5, 2015.
By Kristen Coppock Staff writer Burlington County Times
Walk through many downtown business districts and you’re sure to notice a cornucopia of cafes and restaurants.
Take a stroll with On the Town Food Tours, and you’ll sample dishes from many of those establishments. And the food is accompanied by a side of local history.
Operated by Audrey Wiggins, a marketing professional, the tours are designed to show people what local small businesses and their communities have to offer. Held on weekend afternoons, the three-hour tours highlight Bordentown City and Mount Holly, as well as Collingswood and Haddonfield.
Wiggins leads diners through the downtown areas, while a historian points out places of interest.
In Mount Holly, a one-room school house and the country’s oldest firehouse are visible from High Street. And some stops are housed in landmark buildings, such as the Red White & Brew liquor store, located in a former fire station. Colonial-era Quaker buildings also are featured on both Burlington County tours, among other historical points.
The culinary experience served on each of the tours also is unique to each town.
The Vault is known for its wood-fired Napoletana-style pizza, as well as its freshly made dough and mozzarella cheese. Belardo serves tourgoers his most popular pizza, Margherita, and one of his most unique, Fig Jam. The latter pizza features imported fig jam, prosciutto di Parma, fresh homemade mozzarella cheese; imported calciocavallo, fontina and gorgonzola cheeses; basil, olive oil and a drizzle of honey.
Two additional pizzas are typically served to tour groups, providing each diner with multiple options.
“Everyone gets a couple of slices,” said Belardo.
Gian Belardo, owner of The Vault restaurant in Bordentown City, said while many customers are reluctant to try new things, often sticking with familiar dishes, the tours allow diners to sample some unique dishes that they might not otherwise order from the menu, possibly introducing them to new favorites.
In Mount Holly, the tour begins on Washington Street at Ott’s Downtown Pub & Grill with a flatbread pizza before moving on to Ray’s Deli & Café, where specialty grilled cheese sandwiches and pancakes stuffed with apples and cinnamon are served.
“The food culture here (in Mount Holly) tends to be very American,” said Wiggins. “We’re at each place for about 20 minutes.”
Next up is Robin’s Nest Restaurant on Washington Street, which features a trio of signature soups. During the summer months, the trio includes two hot soups and one cold soup. On a recent afternoon, Chilled Blueberry was on the menu, alongside Filet Mignon and Potato; and French Onion soup, which the staff said is always part of the tour.
Wiggins said she enjoys the rotating selection.
“I had a (cold) strawberry soup with whipped cream on top. It was sweet and savory,” she said.
Moving up High Street, the Mount Holly tour continues with beverage tastings at Red, White and Brew, which serves old-fashioned mead, and the Valenzano Wine Outlet inside the dual Gallery 72 Fine Art Photography and Abstract Expressions Contemporary Art Gallery.
After tasting wine, Wiggins said, diners are encouraged to walk around the gallery to view works on display.
The Mount Holly tour also stops at the Mug Shot Diner and Vincent’s Homemade Ice Cream, where diners can choose a scoop of their flavor choice.
Meanwhile, the Bordentown City tour stops at six locations in the downtown business district, including The Vault. Other participating establishments are Toscano Ristorante, Under the Moon Café, Blue Moon Olive Oil & Vinegars, The Cake Box by Neeima and Smylie’s Icre Cream Shop II.
Wiggins said guests on the Bordentown City tour can expect to sample Italian tapas and street food, Spanish meats and cheeses; and an international selection of olives oils and vinegars. And there’s homemade cupcakes and artisan ice cream for dessert.
On all tours, Wiggins said, “we can accommodate people who have (food) allergies.”
Restaurant owners are hoping the tours motivate diners to become repeat customers. In addition to food, Belardo said a memorable atmosphere can also draw people back in. The Vault’s décor, for example, pays homage to the space’s past as a bank by incorporating elements of its history, such as the walk-in vault that’s been left in place to serve as a focal point.
Upcoming tours in Bordentown City will run Saturday and Aug. 29. In Mount Holly, a tour is scheduled for Aug. 22. A complete schedule can be found on the Food Tours w5yhebsite at www.onthetownfoodtours.com
Tickets can be purchased online. The cost is $55 for the Bordentown City, Mount Holly and Haddonfield tours, which all run three hours. The two-hour Collingswood tour is $38.
Kristen Coppock: 609-871-8073; email: email@example.com; Twitter @kcoppockbct
By Kristen Coppock Staff writer Burlington County Times
Local walking tours are highlighting downtown cuisine in Bordentown City and Mount Holly.
On The Town Food Tours recently debuted in Burlington and Camden counties, offering opportunities to socialize and sample on select Saturdays and Sundays. Running about three hours and led by an industry professional, the tours stop at a minimum of five restaurants and dessert spots in each location.
In Bordentown City, Toscano Ristorante & Steakhouse, The Vault, Under the Moon Café, Blue Moon Olive Oil & Vinegars, and Smylie’s Ice Cream Shop II are featured. Served with a side of the city’s historical sites, foods on the tour may include Spanish meats and cheeses, Italian tapas, Napoletana pizza and an olive oil tasting.
Mount Holly’s itinerary includes Robin’s Nest Restaurant, Mug Shot Diner, Ott’s Downtown Pub & Grill, Ray’s Deli & Café, Vincent’s Homemade Ice Cream; Red, White & Brew; and Valenzano Wine Outlet at Gallery 72 Fine Art Photography. Specialty grilled cheese sandwiches, homemade soups, omelets and pancakes are some of the menu items on the tour.
Other walking tours are available in Collingswood and Haddonfield. Ticket prices are up to $55 per person and vary by location.