Consider a weekend visit to thriving Beaver to peruse its specialty stores, antique and consignment shops, as well as a bevy of interesting restaurants. From an Eastern European pastry shop to a fine-dining stalwart with an all-American wine collection, Beaver’s dining scene punches above its weight.
Start the morning at Cafe Kolache (402 3rd St.), a bakery that specializes in pastry that looks like a spongy danish. Some have savory fillings such as bacon and cheese or ham, jalapeno and cheddar. Others are sweetly filled with apricot, blueberry, prune or lemon. Owned by former Enron employee Kristi Harper and her husband Hugh, it’s an eclectic spot for takeout or eat-in, with a quiet room that’s good for reading or conversation.
Across the street is Crave Mexican Grill (431 3rd St.), a utilitarian, fast-casual spot that opened last year. Gorge on chips and salsa, bean-and-beef stuffed burritos and cheese-laden quesadillas for under $10 a person. Bring an appetite — and plan to season with Two Rivers olive oils, salt and Tabasco sauce: Though it’s Tex-Mex-inspired, this isn’t spicy fare.
A local antique shop owner recommended one of his go-tos, Mario’s Woodfired Pizzeria (406 3rd St.). It looks like a neighborhood pizzeria, but it’s more like a trattoria. Mario Fratangeli, who opened his restaurant in 2005, knows nearly every customer by first name. Sure, you can get pizza speciale, with its sheen of red sauce and a dappling of mozzarella, or you can order stick-to-the-ribs gnocchi Caprese. Whatever your red sauce craving, it’s likely here — along with a crew of Beaver neighbors who likely will introduce themselves.
If you’re craving a neighborhood sushi and izakaya-style restaurant, there’s Yama (538 3rd St.). Look for American-style, colorful sushi rolls like the jalapeno yellowtail or the cupid (salmon, spicy tuna, red tobiko) with festive plating and sauces that resemble latte art. More savory hot items include shumai dumplings, fried tofu with bonito flakes and shrimp tempura. Sit at the ebony tables or the sushi bar to check out the knife skills of the sushi chef.
A few doors away is Biba (406 3rd St.), the most tailored restaurant on the stretch, with a 12-table dining room from Jason Benegasi and his wife, Christine. Mr. Benegasi is the head chef, emphasizing local ingredients and fusing cultures through cuisine, with starters like cornbread and spicy peach jam, skillet fries, Korean chicken tacos and Cuban sandwiches. For the more conservative diner, there’s local green salad, a fish of the day and “pasture-perfect beef.”
The destination restaurant that has anchored Beaver since 1968 is the Wooden Angel (308 Leopard Lane) and its more casual sibling, Bert’s Wooden Indian.
The fine dining gem has one of the area’s most interesting wine rooms with over 400 American labels going back to 1973. Credit owner Alex Sebastian, who has been praised by Wine Spectator for the breadth of his restaurant’s wine collection.
In between courses like five-onion soup, lobster mac and cheese and oysters Rockefeller, peruse the dark, masculine environs, checking out the murals and artwork along with the several party spaces. Follow it up with scrod, pasta, lamb or pork medallions — and consider ordering a bottle of wine, especially if it’s a weekend jazz night.
If deals are your thing, Tuesday’s prime rib is $19 per person, Friday’s dinner for two is $40-$45 and live lobster Wednesdays cost $30 a head, with each meal accompanied by a salad and sides.
If a formal dinner isn’t in the cards, consider the far more casual Bert’s Wooden Indian, whose tavern menu touts ham, beef and pork barbecue. This is where the restaurant started, as a barbecue spot named Bert’s, adding Wooden Indian to the name in 1958. While barbecue is the go-to, don’t skip the munchies: fried zucchini or wings, onion rings or fried chicken.
Though Bert’s big brother has a destination-worthy wine list, it’s no frills over here, with a list of local and craft beers. And that’s just fine.
Melissa McCart: firstname.lastname@example.org