Great food in downtown New Kensington presented by Ramble Restaurant

Donna Hare of Upper Burrell had not visited New Kensington in over 20 years. But a new food and trade-themed event held there on Saturday changed that.

Hare and five of his friends attended Restaurant Ramble & Spring Fling 2022. The group said they were all happy to support local businesses – and to experience a “new” New Kensington.

New Kensington Mayor Tom Guzzo said the event was created to spotlight nearly a dozen restaurants on Fourth and Fifth Avenues and all of New Kensington’s small businesses. It started at 11 a.m. and lasted until about 3 p.m.

“It’s an opportunity for people from all over to come and taste good food. The Ramble celebrates our restaurants that have opened in our current revitalization,” Guzzo said.

Hare’s friend, Patty Twidwell of Upper Burrell, said she had two favorites: Catfish from SoCal Mexicali Grill, which opened last month; and the Kibbee, a Syrian specialty, from Eazer’s Restaurant & Deli, a well-established spot across the street along Fifth Avenue.

“We have lived here all our lives, so we want to support local businesses. The food was great,” Twidwell said.

For Hare, visiting downtown New Kensington again left her in awe. “I love the neighborhood vibe here,” she said.

Attendees paid $30 each for a ticket that included a wristband, card, and access to special food and drink pairings available at each participating restaurant.

Voodoo Brasserie offered beef Wellington puff pastry and panetta goat cheese crustini, served with beer.

The self-paced and guided “hike” allowed participants to visit each business on their own schedule.

Joyce Hanz | Tribune-Review

Upper Burrell’s Olivia Hare holds a ticket to the 2022 Restaurant Ramble and Spring Fling held in downtown New Kensington on Saturday. Attendees started at the Voodoo Brewery and a map highlighted over 30 small downtown businesses.

SoCal Mexicali Grill owner Sean Watson, who served more than 200 Cajun catfish tacos at 1 p.m., said the event was well received.

“It’s wonderful and gives us good exposure,” said Watson, who opened his Southern California-themed restaurant at 700 Fifth Ave., the former site of Tommy Chen’s China Bistro.

Mary Beth Lucas, 72, of New Kensington, enjoyed homemade hummus, catfish, stuffed breads and more. Lucas said organizers should consider offering the event every three months. “I’m enjoying my day,” Lucas said.

Lower Burrell’s Alexis and Joe Nixon chose to attend what they call their “date day.”

“We wanted to check out local sites,” said Alexis Nixon, who grew up in New Kensington. “Everyone has been so welcoming and kind.”

The couple said they enjoyed the baklava and coffee from Sweet Tillieswhich opened its doors at the end of 2020 to specialize in baklava, puff pastry.

Mayor Guzzo said Eazer’s, in business for over 100 years, is just one example of all the great things happening in downtown New Kensington.

“This is a great event in every way,” Guzzo said.

Joyce Hanz is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Joyce at 724-226-7725, [email protected] or via Twitter .

David H. Henry