Monday, January 07, 2013

French Fry Diary 452: Ponzio's Diner, Cherry Hill NJ

Ponzio's Diner-Bakery-Bar has been a landmark in Cherry Hill, in one form or another, for decades, located at the Ellisburg Circle, and now the convoluted intersection that used to be the Ellisburg Circle. A family business since 1964 when the owners of Ponzio's Brooklawn purchased this location, and it went from being the Ellisburg Diner to Ponzio's Cherry Hill. There have been numerous renovations since then, most notably the latest in 2005.

The Bride recently visited here and I talked about the fries she brought home. Now here's the in-restaurant review, as we had chosen the new Ponzio's as our meeting place for our annual holiday get-together with friends.

Back in the 1980s when I was in college I had been here a few times. What I remember most is that it was very dark, and the bar was small and dark as well. It might have just been that decade that was dark. On this day, it was very bright. There was a diner section that looked very diner-y, a bar where I remembered it, but bigger and brighter.

The rest of Ponzio's was quarantined off into different rooms named after local Cherry Hill neighborhoods. It reminded me a lot of Mastoris actually in that way. After a bit of a wait, even though we called ahead for a large group of eight, we ended up in the Barclay Room. Continuing the comparison to Mastoris was the selection of cheese breads we were served before the meal. They were not as good however.

As far as my dinner goes, I went traditional. Regular readers know what I ordered - a plain burger and fries. This of course seemed to confuse our waitress. I wanted the Johnny & Feef's Famous Bay Fries that The Bride had brought home a few months back. They only come in a giant-sized portion separate from the meal. Hoping not to confuse her any more I just ordered onion rings as my side, and got the Bay Fries too.

The burger was hot and okay, but had a bit of an aftertaste that didn't make me feel so good. The onion rings were heavily battered, very crispy, and big and thick. They were very tasty, only Panko could have possibly made them better. From the offerings on others' plates, I could see that Ponzio's regular fries were regular cuts. No complaints about them from our table.

There were also Eggplant Fries and Green Bean Fries on the menu, but I wasn't feeling that adventurous that night. I did not see the rumored Asparagus Fries that I had been told about here on the menu however. Maybe they are a myth, or on a secret menu, a la In-N-Out Burger.

The Bay Fries were quite a disappointment in restaurant sadly. They were hot (in places) and spicy, but a bit limp. My friend and fellow Disney Cruiser Dom sat across from me and sampled these fries. His response was to ask if they were supposed to be cold. I didn't get what he meant until I myself popped a cold fry into my mouth. This was not good. The ramekin of cheese near Dom had cheese so stiff and cold he couldn't even push a fry into it. As a whole, the fries got worse as they got even colder.

All in all, it was a great dinner with much missed friends. Conversation was fun, if a bit overloaded with Doctor Who and the question of whether an ├ęclair is a donut or not (I still say it's not), but great company. We really should see each other more often than once a year.

As far as the food and service at Ponzio's goes however, we probably won't be going back. I think we've decided on the tried and true Medport for next year's holiday gathering. I already can't wait.


Dawn said...

I used to work near Ponzio's but didn't dine there much. Thanks for letting me know I didn't miss anything special. Oddly, the first writer's group I attended met once a month at the Medport Diner. Haven't been there in years. Wonder how it's changed, and if it has. Guess I'll have to wait to get your critique.

Glenn Walker said...

I've reviewed the Medport Diner a few times:

I think it's the best diner local to this part of Jersey.

Digital Dave said...

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