A hot sampler for two from the appetizer/tapas menu at Europa Grill. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
By SUSAN ERICSON
New to the Shrewsbury Village strip mall in Shrewsbury, Europa Grill fills in the storefront left empty by Rosina’s Ristorante. Like its predecessor, it serves Italian food, but that’s where the similarity ends.
Mediterranean-themed frescoes, including an attention-grabbing celestially painted ceiling, brighten the decor. Tables set with linens, comfortable seating, and friendly, helpful service add up to a more formal but lively atmosphere.
Ordered from the panini section of the menu, the grilled chicken sandwich comes with house-made fried potato chips. Below, the interior has murals painted on the walls and ceiling. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
Although the restaurant is new, its trio of owners brings years of hands-on experience to the business. Carlos Fernandes and Jose Arena own restaurants in the Atlantic Highlands and Lincroft. With executive chef Alberto Torres running the kitchen, their plan is to branch out from traditional pizzeria backgrounds.
The voluminous menu suggests a provocative Portuguese influence, and it takes time to page through the raw-bar options, appetizers, pastas and baked dishes; specialities such as Paella Valenciana, a traditional Spanish dish; and Churrasco Caballo, a 20-ounce grilled New York steak prepared with fried eggs, ham, rice, Spanish potatoes, and vegetables.
In addition, there are 14 salad options, 20 panini heroes, eight variations of burgers, grilled steak heroes, wraps and pizza.
We opted for a Hot Sampler for Two ($14.95), which gave us an opportunity to taste five different dishes on one platter. Beautifully presented on a long oval dish, the appetizer makes for a tasty lunch.
Two super-colossal shrimp, prepared scampi-style in a garlic broth, were sweet morsels that we want to taste again. Mussels marinara, and a good-sized portion of eggplant rolatini, were superb. And the mushrooms stuffed with crab meat, and the stuffed clams, capped with a bite of bacon, were out-of-this-world. Each component of this sampler is worth ordering on its own as lunch or dinner, and serves as a perfect example of the sophisticated background in the kitchen.
Of the 20 offerings on the Panini Hero section of the menu, PieHole went for number nine ($7.95). Grilled chicken, arugula, roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella and a balsamic vinaigrette fill the sandwich.
Layers of pounded-thin, tender chicken breast and fresh greens came complimented by the soft-as-a-pillow mozzarella. A crunchy Portuguese roll added flavor, and the house-made fried potatoes (chips) were a lovely, non-salty addition to the plate.
A dessert tray brought to our table included tiramisu, creme brulee, tres leches cakes in both an almond flavor and chocolate, and a crumbled-cookie pudding called serradura with mango and pina-colada cream. They are all made in-house.
A gleaming copper, state-of-the-art espresso machine ensures a happy, caffeinated ending.
Europa Grill, in the Shrewsbury Village strip mall on Shrewsbury Avenue, is open sevendays a week from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., and is BYOB.