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Ron’s Original Bar & Grille
74 East Uwchlan Avenue (Route 113)
Heritage Center
Lionville, Pennsylvania
(610) 594-9900

Ron's EntranceTucked away in a mini strip mall, and looking oh so very normal and generic – like the usual local happy-tappy serving up the usual nondescript pub grub to the usual less-than-discerning indigenous clientele – but Ron’s is anything but. Ron’s is… well, Ron’s is unique.

To discover just how unique, you need only take a gander at the restaurant’s website. Their soups are made from fresh stocks that are by-products of their slow-roasted meats and chicken… Their meats are antibiotic and hormone free. Likewise, their burgers are fresh ground certified Angus and never frozen… Their salmon filets are fresh cut by the chef; their mussels and calamari are fresh ice-packed, not frozen… Their turkey breasts are freshly baked on the premises from fresh, hormone-free fowl; their bacon is nitrite-free… Produce is delivered 5 days a week, and all salads are made with fresh-cut lettuce; and the mixed greens are hand-washed, dried, and mixed by the kitchen staff; vegetables are all cut fresh and cooked to order… In addition, the menu lists the items that are gluten free, hormone/antibiotic free, spicy, vegetarian, clean eating, and/or made from scratch.

Evidently the owner has looked carefully into what is called “scratch” cooking over the years and has learned the importance of serving meals without relying on additives and preservatives. The bottom line: The fresher and more natural the food, he believes, the healthier it is for us and the better our chances of maintaining good health.

Tuna MeltBut the fact that a restaurant offers its patrons healthy cuisine is only part of the equation. Even the best of organic and/or local comestibles can be poorly prepared and sloppily presented. Fortunately, however, not only is Ron’s food good for you, but it is pleasing to both the eye and the palate as well… And these are certainly not minor considerations.

When it comes to casual fare, for instance, tuna salad – in whatever guise – is always a good test. And here, as soon as your tuna melt hits the table, you know that all’s right with the world. The tuna salad is homemade, oozing with cheese, and presented on perfectly grilled rye. The portion is generous, the taste addictive, and the accompanying house-made chips a delightfully crunchy complement.

A variation on the theme, of course, is the tuna hoagie – stuffed to the gills with pristinely fresh albacore tuna salad, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and onions – which is equally satisfying… ditto the version served up on a bed of lettuce with suitable accoutrements, including a portion of the Rolls Royce of homemade coleslaws. And, by the way, all the salad dressings are homemade and contain absolutely no MSG or preservatives.

Veggie GrillerOther highly recommended grilled sandwiches include the ever popular Reuben and the veggie griller. The former boasts corned beef, roast beef, or turkey companioned by melted Swiss, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing; the latter is comprised of an appetizing mix of fire-grilled vegetables topped with melted provolone.

Uncle MickeyIf pressed to name her favorite sandwich, my wife would undoubtedly give the nod to the “Uncle Mickey,” slow-roasted pork. The meat is lean, tender, thinly sliced, teamed with melted Wisconsin cheddar & grilled onions, and served up with first-rate fries. On the other hand, I’d have to go with the “Super Club,” ham, turkey, roast beef, lettuce, tomatoes, and nitrite-free bacon stuffed between three slices of toasted white slathered with mayo.

Thin Crust PizzaIf you’re a pizza fanatic, though, I wager you’ll find Ron’s specialty thin crust versions impossible to resist. Recently sampled, for instance, was the double pepperoni. The golden brown crust was wafer thin and the pepperoni & cheese generous to a fault.

Ron's Oval BLTBut if you’re a pizza lover who longs for thick crust, you most assuredly want to give an “Oval” a try – a concept unique to Ron’s Original. Pizza dough is formed into the shape of an oval, lavished with a variety of toppings, sprinkled with an interesting selection of seasonings, and then baked. The result, which is extraordinarily delicious, may resemble a free-form thick crust pizza, but many of the toppings are totally different, as are the diverse seasonings. The BLT, for example, is constructed with bacon, cheddar & mozzarella. After baking, it is topped with lettuce and chunks of tomato. Yes… and it really tastes just like a bacon, lettuce & tomato sandwich.

In addition to the above, Ron’s also offers patrons a variety of entrées, including traditional Italian dishes. And many of these Italian offerings are available in regular or petite portions, which is certainly a plus for diners with diminutive appetites. Veal, chicken & eggplant parmesan are popular menu items, as are baked meat & spinach lasagnas and spaghetti Bolognese. Among the other possibilities, the grilled salmon filet kissed by lime butter sauce is a sure winner, as is the Black Angus meatloaf served up on a bed of garlic smashed potatoes.

Taking a gander at Ron’s rather extensive menu, it may seem as if the kitchen’s reach may have exceeded its grasp. One cannot help but think that it would be difficult (if not impossible) for an eatery to do so many things well. But, on second glance, the bill of fare is not quite as gargantuan as it at first appears, as it turns out a lion’s share of superb “pub grub” while offering only a select number of homey, familiar entrées. Any restaurant, however humble or upscale, invariably does certain things better than others. And this is true at this establishment as well. But the key, in my opinion, is that Ron’s Original knows its focus, its limitations, and its clientele… And, therefore, it continues to do a first-rate job across the board.

Ron's BarThe restaurant contains several dining areas… but the bar, bustling yet inviting, is the most comfortable spot to settle in. Even if there’s a wait for seating in the dining rooms, which is not at all unusual, you can almost always squeeze in at the bar; either at the bar proper or at one of the high-top tables. Here you find a diverse, friendly crowd; and Scott, the chatty, convivial bartender, is guaranteed to take care of you in style. And be sure to say hello to Conover the Caribou – “He’s old, he’s horny, and he’s always here” (at least part of him!).

If you’re ever on the prowl for well-prepared casual fare that utilizes only top-notch ingredients and won’t break the bank, Ron’s Original Bar & Grill should fill the bill quite nicely. Highly recommended for both lunch and dinner.

November 2012
The Artful Diner

The Artful Diner is an independent, freelance food writer.  His latest review and an archive of past reviews for restaurants around the country and the world can be found on this site on the REVIEWS page.

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