Even though I’ve lived my whole life in New Jersey, I only recently moved to Titusville, NJ in 2011. I have had a few people raise eyebrows at me when I tell them I live in Titusville… it’s definitely not as shiny and exciting as New Hope or Philly. It may be one of the quietest towns in the entire state of New Jersey. But its location is prime for farm to table dining.
It was around this time, something exciting was happening just 10 minutes down the road and over the river in Yardley, PA. Charcoal Steaks-N-Things was evolving into Charcoal BYOB, “Pennsylvania’s Progressive American Dining”.
My first meal ever there was Duck Conserva with farmers cheese and sweet & sour cranberries. It was love at first bite. Brothers and chefs Mark & Eric Plescha have embraced cooking with the seasons, sourcing locally when possible, and exploring modern techniques where they make sense. Since then we’ve had so many different Charcoal dishes – just about every iteration of their crispy octopus (from Kung Pao to Bacon Mayo), homemade pasta dishes galore and their Griggstown Fried Chicken (a staple that EVERYONE loves, no matter what their food tastes).
When my husband and I got married in 2014, it was a no brainer to bring our entire family to Charcoal for our rehearsal dinner. People still talk about the brioche donuts to this day!
On our most recent Charcoal outing, we did our best to try as many dishes as possible without eating ourselves to death (that’s a pretty consistent goal of mine). And while the menu changes constantly, you can’t go wrong with a few appies and pasta to share. Here’s what we ordered:
Grilled octopus with lemon pepper caramel, asparagus salsa maro, homemade ricotta: I am unable to turn down octopus when its on a menu. And it’s ALWAYS on Charcoals’ menu, tweaked to reflect the season. This was a really refreshing, bright spin on things.
Beef tartare with smoked heart of palm, salsa verde, toasted sesame cracker: Very good, salsa verde was a nice compliment.
Crab bucatini with fried softshell crab, plum tomato, old bay, lovage: This may be my favorite style of pasta, so when its paired with softshell crab and a creamy tomato sauce, I am over the moon.
Brioche Doughnuts, cinnamon sugar, coffee caramel: If you don’t save room for these, you are doing yourself a disservice.
If you take a look at their menu at any given time you will find unique produce, amazing technique and local, sustainable ingredients just waiting to be devoured. Sungold tomato butter? Grilled NJ Tilefish? These are things you will only find on the menu at Charcoal, our go-to for great food 5 years and counting.
- If you see an ingredient you’re not familiar with, ask about it! Don’t shy away from the unknown
- For every two people, try 2 small plates, 1 full order of pasta and 1 large plate
- You can’t beat the view – Charcoal has big beautiful windows that overlook the Delaware River