BORO Market | Restaurant | Bar in Pennington Offers Variety of Dining Choices in Exciting Setting
DISTINCTIVE DINING: “We are set apart by our overall approach and ability to achieve a special refinement. We emphasize quality and a unique and exciting ambiance.” Ben Sanford and his wife Katie, owners of BORO Market | Restaurant | Bar in Pennington, look forward to introducing more customers to their intriguing new restaurant and market. Shown is the elegant main dining room and bar.
By Jean Stratton
Something special is waiting for you at 147 West Delaware Avenue in Pennington!
Visitors to BORO Market | Restaurant | Bar will find an exciting dining experience in an intriguing setting, unlike anything else in the area.
Opened last December, it is the product of both the experience and imagination of owners and husband and wife team, Ben and Katie Sanford.
“My wife and I have been in the restaurant business for more than 40 years combined between us, including in Robbinsville, Bordentown, Charleston, S.C., and Pennington,” explains Ben Sanford. “We’ve had Cugino’s Italian Market in Pennington for years, including at this location for the past five years. Having our own restaurant has always been our dream.”
The Sanfords have established an inviting combination of a restaurant and bar plus market/informal eatery, appealing to a variety of tastes.
“We enjoy going out to eat, and we have taken bits and pieces of all the places we love, and tried to bring it all together in our establishment to share with others,” says Sanford.
“I think people have been looking for something different, and we offer a ‘city vibe’ atmosphere, with unique decor, romantic lighting, hip background music, and an overall really different look and feel.”
It certainly is a special setting, with a sleekly elegant, very contemporary motif, featuring black, white, and stainless steel accoutrements. Three dining
sections flow seamlessly from the large main dining room to the market, which not only offers an assortment of take-home items, but light fare dining opportunities on site, as well. The market’s black-and-white subway tile walls and interesting light fixtures add an appealing optic.
The L-shaped setting accommodates varied seating arrangements, including traditional table settings for two and four in the main area, which segues to areas with high top tables and stools to customized table groupings in combination with a banquette. One area, known as the “Chef’s Tables,” affords a look into the kitchen as meal preparations take place.
The restaurant and market’s design is the work of Katie Sanford, reports her husband. “Katie designed the entire establishment, and she calls the theme ‘Parisian Modern.’ She is not an official interior designer, but she has a real visual flair and feel for decor.”
In addition, there is a delightful outdoor patio, newly landscaped, which can seat 15. Inside, full capacity offers room for 70 (including seating at the bar).
All the COVID safety precautions and rules, with masks, social distancing, hand sanitizers, etc., are in place.
The menu is as engaging as the atmosphere, offering a variety of choices, which Sanford describes as “New American.”
“We decided to expand beyond Italian, which was our specialty at Cugino’s Italian Market,” he explains. “It’s really a variety of cuisines, including French, European, Asian, and American. We also offer a lot of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free choices, and we find that more and more people are focused on healthy eating.
“We were also able to add the bar, which has been very popular. People are really enjoying the craft cocktails that Katie created — they are big favorites.”
The concept of the market and the restaurant is an engaging aspect of the establishment. As Sanford points out, “We took a cue from Italy, with the idea of the market and restaurant together. The market includes a selection of items that you had enjoyed in the restaurant and then, if you want, you can take them home.”
In addition, the market offers light fare dining all day — from breakfast through dinner. Seating is available, and everything from breakfast sandwiches, avocado toasts, salads and sandwiches of all kinds, pizza, coffee, tea, and bottled beverages, are all available, as well as beer and wine.
Ready-to-go items include assorted homemade soups and sauces, fresh pasta, charcuterie items, fresh sausage, prosciutto, cacciatorini, and soppressata, among others. Olives and a variety of cheeses are available, as is an assortment of breads and desserts, such as cheesecake, mini cannolis, tiramisu cups, German chocolate brownies, and sfogliatella, among others.
The restaurant brings intimacy and sophistication to life. Candle lit tables and dimly lit dining rooms complement the high quality steak, seafood, pasta, and small plates offered to diners.
“Our food is tastefully prepared. We put together very special, high quality ingredients,” notes Sanford. “Our chef, Jason Santillo, is an expert at executing exciting, delicious dishes.”
Special customer favorites include small plates, such as a charcuterie with prosciutto de parma, cacciatorini, bresaola, rosette de Lyon, caper berry, and grain mustard. Another popular small plate is crispy chicken, featuring honey and Calabrian chili, chicory slaw, and scallion. Calamari, goat cheese croquettes, and mussels and cockles are other popular small plates.
Salads of all kinds are offered, with a BORO rendition of the iceberg wedge, including bacon, avocado, roasted heirloom tomato, pickled onion, and house-made truffle bleu cheese a special favorite.
Pasta dishes feature house-made cavatelli, with truffle short rib ragu; also, pappardelle with shrimp, tomato, Calabrian chili, crushed olives, and spiced mollica. Both are highlights.
Always in demand are main dishes such as Frenched chicken breast, with braised radicchio; grass-fed New Zealand rib eye steak; and a Berkshire pork chop, with fig, caper berry, vinegar, and brown sugar pan sauce; along with the restaurant’s very popular 10-ounce brisket burger, including local cheddar, caramelized onions, pickles, iceberg lettuce, and house sauce on a sesame bun.
Pomme frites with manchego, smoked rosemary, and pomegranate ketchup; and crispy Brussels sprouts with fish sauce and pepitas are just two of the restaurant’s popular sides.
The full line of beverages ranges from wine, beer, and cocktails to soft drinks, tea, and lots of coffees. Something for every coffee lover, including latte, espresso, cappuccino, macchiato, and more, is on the menu.
Takeout is available, and catering is also an important part of the business. Options for any size and type of event are offered. Sandwich trays, appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, and antipasto to begin, followed by pasta, chicken, beef, pork, seafood, or vegan and gluten-free choices are all on the menu. And, of course, dessert!
Prices cover a range, with sandwiches and salads starting at $10 and $11 (breakfast sandwiches are $5), small plates from $9, pasta dishes and main dishes from $17.
Ben and Katie Sanford are enthusiastic about the market and restaurant’s future. As more people become vaccinated, and COVID cases decrease, they see increasing numbers of customers all the time.
“Every week, more and more people are coming. We enjoy providing an exciting and enjoyable experience for our guests. We have a strong emphasis on
hospitality and offer a very professional level of service. Customers can count on that.”
Of course, any new venture has its challenges, and BORO Market | Restaurant | Bar is no exception.
“The biggest challenge opening a new restaurant is the tremendous amount of time, work, and effort it takes to get it right and keep getting it right,” points out Sanford. “One of the chefs I used to work for would say, ‘You’re only as good as your last meal!’ It is very true, and we take nothing for granted. We work hard to keep our service, food, and overall location at an extremely high level day in and day out.”
Also, he continues, “We look forward to being a place where customers are regulars and come to share special events in their lives as well as date nights, and family meals.”
Participating in and supporting the community are also important, he adds. “We have been a part of this community for more than a decade, and we have continually donated food, gift cards, and services to those who have asked. It is so important to give back.”
The restaurant is open for dinner only, Thursday through Sunday, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations are suggested. Market hours are Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. No reservations necessary. (609) 730-4100. Website: boroeaterybar.com.