‘PA House’, new restaurant in Hellertown near the Rail Trail, opening soon

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The PA House will open at the end of April, according to owner Franco DiCarlo. The new Hellertown restaurant will serve an Italian-influenced menu in an indoor-outdoor setting that he hopes will become a gathering place for the community.

“When will the new restaurant open?” is a question that’s been heard frequently in Hellertown for months, as curious local residents eye the remarkable conversion of a former garage on Front and Water Streets into an atmospheric restaurant with views of Silver Creek, the Saucon Rail Trail and beyond to have.

The “new place” is called the PA House and is the creation of owner Franco DiCarlo and his family, who have lived in both New York City and the Saucon Valley for years. You spend most of your time in Lower Saucon Township now, but the restaurant’s name predates that.

If they were in Pennsylvania they would talk about “the town,” he explained, but if they were in New York they would refer to their home in Saucon Valley as their “PA house.”

“It was my full-time project,” he said, adding that his wife still works full-time in the New York fashion industry, where he also spent decades.

The former garage that is now the PA House is located at 662 Front Street – on the corner of Water Street and Front Street – in the heart of the Hellertown neighborhood. In addition to the indoor seating, there is a variety of outdoor seating for customers to enjoy on sunny days, including bistro tables and Adirondack chairs overlooking the adjacent creek and railroad.

DiCarlo first received approval for his plans for the PA house almost two years ago, but his vision has taken some time, in part due to pandemic-related supply chain issues.

With an open concept and garage doors that roll up to bring the outside in, DiCarlo’s vision for PA House is that of an intimate local gathering place; one in which he hopes clients will feel as comfortable as they do in their own homes and workspaces.

In many cases, thanks to technology, work now takes place where the worker is, he noted. Routines may be different, but with more Americans working from home, the desire to get out and socialize is greater now than maybe ever before.

Much of the open, airy design concept for PA House predates the COVID-19 pandemic, and while largely utilitarian, it also draws on urban influences for its aesthetic.

The former garage ceiling was painted matte black and the concrete floor polished to create what DiCarlo called an “enduring, honest” ambience.

The building, which was remodeled to the specifications of PA homeowner Franco DiCarlo, is still identifiable as a former garage. In creating an “honest, enduring” ambience, DiCarlo retained key building features, like a concrete floor polished to a matte finish.

Born in Italy, raised in Michigan and a citizen of the world who has traveled frequently from New York to Europe during his career in fashion, there is also an eclectic aspect to PA House’s design that is perhaps most evident in its versatility.

In addition to indoor and outdoors Dining and bar seating – The PA House has a corner window for grab and go and ice cream purchases. The unique service area allows trail users – or anyone on the go – to easily purchase a cold treat during the warmer months.

On-the-go customers are also the target market for DiCarlos’ “Hello Joe” coffee trailer, which opens later this month in the PA House parking lot.

The staff at the gleaming Airstream serves espresso, cappuccino, latte, cold draft beer, frozen fruit smoothies, and baked goods to passers-by from early April through early December from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week.

The Hello Joe coffee bar is housed in an Airstream trailer and will be open 7 days a week starting later this month (until December 1st). Owner Franco DiCarlo said his wife came up with the concept for the coffee bar trailer, which will remain parked in front of PA House. Inside, staff prepare cappuccinos, espressos, smoothies, and other beverages for passers-by, including walkers, joggers, and cyclists, entering or exiting the Saucon Rail Trail at Water Street.

The PA House is open from approximately 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. or 11:00 p.m. depending on the day of the week. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, partly to maintain quality standards.

“We just want to make sure we do what we do well,” said DiCarlo, who is no stranger to the local food scene. He previously owned and operated Maggie Moo’s ice cream shop located in the Promenade Shops in the Saucon Valley.

The PA House menu is still being finalized but won’t be huge for the same reason, he said.

There will be an emphasis on small, shareable plates — think roasted cauliflower or charcuterie platters with freshly hand-cut mortadella and prosciutto — coming out quickly from the restaurant’s open kitchen, along with artisan pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven imported from Italy will . In addition to a handful of red and white pizzas, the restaurant offers specialties in the pizza department as well as pizzas with gluten-free crusts.

PA House Pizza Hellertown

A PA House margherita pizza is one of several traditional and non-traditional types of pizza baked in the venue’s oven, imported from Italy.

DiCarlo said PA House will be “gluten-free friendly” and will also have options for vegan and vegetarian palates.

Hand-cut fries, garlic bread made with the restaurant’s pizza base, salads, and appetizers like chicken milanese — along with desserts like homemade donuts — complement lunch and dinner, adding to an overall experience that DiCarlo describes as “low-key but high-end.” introduces.

At the PA House Bar, guests can choose from a selection of lighter Italian-style aperitivos to complement this experience. An aperitivo, often made with Campari, is “the celebration of the beginning of the night,” DiCarlo explained, in contrast to an American-style happy hour, which celebrates the end of the workday.

With a lower alcohol content than traditional cocktails, aperitifs should complement the ambiance of PA House as – as the name suggests – they whet the appetite.

A variety of beers will also be available on tap and PA House will have an extensive wine list as well as Prosecco on tap. In addition to wines by the glass and by the bottle, there will be a carafe option which, when poured, will be the equivalent of approximately three glasses.

PA House Hellertown

The mirrored bar at PA House is unlike anything else in Hellertown. Owner Franco DiCarlo said the bar menu will also be unique to the area, offering things like a selection of aperitivos (light pre-dinner drinks) and prosecco on tap.

DiCarlo said he was able to hire experienced staff for the opening of PA House, which he expects after a tentative opening on April 27-28. A few positions are still being filled, and anyone interested in applying should message the PA House Instagram account (@thepahouse) or call 484-851-6662.

A website (ThePAHouse.com) that will offer online ordering is under development, along with a reservation system for groups of six or more. As DiCarlo explained, everyone else will be seated via a first-come, first-served waitlist that will be implemented soon.

He said the responses he has received so far have been extremely encouraging; a statement confirmed on Friday by enthusiastic passers-by asking when the restaurant would open.

PA House Hellertown

A corner window in PA House serves as a pickup window for take-out orders and a service window for soft serve during the warmer months.

DiCarlo also commended the Hellertown Borough and its staff for their help and support throughout the development of PA House.

He also said he used local vendors and artisans to bring his concept to life as much as possible. An example of this is the wooden tables and other woodwork in the PA House, made by Maple Street Woodworking of Hellertown.

“Come by car, come by foot, come by bike,” he said, noting that the PA House is the latest addition to what he says is a thriving Lehigh Valley restaurant scene.

“I want us to be that informal meeting place,” DiCarlo added. “Hopefully we’ll offer something that fills that.”

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PA House Restaurant Hellertown

The PA House in Hellertown is expected to open in late April. Housed in a former garage at Front Street and Water Street, the restaurant will serve an Italian menu in a contemporary atmosphere that takes full advantage of the building’s location adjacent to Silver Creek overlooking the Saucon Rail Trail and Water Street Park. The meals are prepared in an open kitchen.

The lighting inside the PA House, seen from the outside of its prominent garage doors, has drawn the attention of passing motorists in recent weeks. The restaurant is expected to open to the public late next week.

A feature at PA House that is as aesthetic as it is functional is the restaurant’s pizza oven, imported from Italy.

Galvanized metal troughs have been repurposed as planters along the Water Street side of PA House in Hellertown.

Above. the takeaway corner window and main entrance of PA House, which opens in Hellertown later this month.

Adirondack chairs overlooking Silver Creek line the edge of a gravel-lined area between PA House and the Hello Joe coffee bar trailer. Owner Franco DiCarlo has created an outdoor ambiance that has already been praised by passers-by.

Inside the restaurant, tables lower than traditional “high-tops” line a low wall that separates the main dining area from the bar area.

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