Discreet Diner | Tony's Seafood Cafe

Posted: August 26, 2007

On quiet Howard Street, just off the intersection of Broad and Main in Riverton, sits Tony's Seafood Cafe.

We visited the place at the recommendation of a reader, Amber Bibelheimer of Merchantville, who wrote: "Wow! describes the food."

Bibelheimer said the place wasn't fancy. It has wood tables and chairs, whirring ceiling fans, and framed photographs of what look like local sites on the walls. With paper placemats and napkins, it has a mariner's feel in an old Victorian setting. And it had the ubiquitous giant glass filled with oyster crackers on the tables.

My companion and I started with cups of the day's soups, clam chowder ($2.10) and lobster and scallop bisque ($2.90). The chowder was filled with clams and soft potato in a creamy broth. It had good seafood flavor, but was a bit salty for my taste. The bisque had been recommended by Bibelheimer: "The wonderful lobster scallop bisque was thick, warm and creamy, but needed a slight sprinkling of pepper for more flavor." I agree completely. The pepper set it off.

Salads came with our entrees, and we both opted for the house balsamic vinaigrette, which was better than most I've had. The salad was mixed greens, and the dressing was more than just oil and vinegar; basil added a nice twist.

Our server was a very pleasant woman who told us that the eatery had been open four years and that she was glad we had stopped in.

So were we. Everything was freshly made, and our seafood was well-prepared. My companion selected the pecan-crusted tilapia ($18.95) for his meal. It was a nice-size piece of the filleted fish baked with a crunchy pecan coating in a lemony cream sauce. It was served with a relish of pecan and lump crabmeat on top, and a vegetable medley and oven-roasted potatoes on the side. He ate it all, except for his vegetables.

My entree was an old favorite, fried stuffed shrimp ($14.95). It was three medium shrimp with crab imperial on top and deep fried with a bread-crumb coating. I enjoyed the creamy crab imperial and the crunchy coating. My meal came with two sides, and I selected french fries and coleslaw. I'm not a fan of either, and these offerings were pretty ordinary.

The Discreet Diner always saves room for dessert so readers get a complete report of a meal. (Plus, I cannot resist sweets!) Our server, who seemed to know the entire menu by heart, ran down the list: homemade rice pudding with raisins, tiramisu, ricotta cheesecake, key lime pie, and white chocolate mousse. My dining companion selected the tiramisu ($4.50) and I opted for the ricotta cheesecake ($4.25).

Our server hurried off to brew fresh coffee for us.

The tiramisu was a three-inch square of espresso-soaked ladyfingers and mascarpone with a cocoa dusting. It was creamy and sweet, and we didn't detect liqueur.

The ricotta cheesecake was remarkably smooth and sweet, and not very creamy. It had a cookie crust that I thoroughly enjoyed.

It's important to the Discreet Diner to follow up on readers' recommendations because readers have pretty good taste. Everything at Tony's Seafood Cafe was good on our visit; no wonder it's been there four years already.


Discreet Diner | Tony's Seafood Cafe

517 Howard St., Riverton.

Phone: 856-303-8400.

Hours: Closed Sunday and Monday; Tuesday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday, noon-9 p.m.

Reservations: No.

Handicapped accessible: Yes.

Parking: Lot and on street.

On the Web: Takeout menu available at www.rivertonmenus.com/

menus/seafoodcafe.htm.


The Discreet Diner is a member

of the Inquirer staff and welcomes your comments and recommendations. E-mail discreetdiner@phillynews.com.

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