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Europa Grill

Lori Draz

It’s a new year, and so we decided to try a brand restaurant – Europa Grill in Shrewsbury. Europa Grill moved into the space vacated by Rosina’s in the corner of the Shrewsbury Commons Mall. It’s a big space, with a separate dining/party room. Its central fireplace, golden walls, and ceiling painted with murals of the heavens are soothing.

At just about five weeks old when we arrived, we expected there might be a few things they were still working out, and it seems there were. However, the management has plenty of experience and a real desire to earn customer loyalty, so we think they will settle into their space and find their voice.

We were paid a visit by the owner, who really wanted to share his vision and desire that we enjoy the place. He explained that he owned an Italian restaurant, but decided to expand the Italian offerings to include Portuguese and Spanish dishes, too, and that he plans to refine and reduce the selections in the next months. That is good news, as the menu is quite large, requiring the diner to do a lot of thinking before making a choice. The portions are also quite large and I recommend that you bring home the leftovers, as they taste even better the next day. The wait staff could be bit more enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the menu, since there are so many choices, but they are efficient.

We started with four appetizers: the garlic shrimp, the mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat, the fried calamari, and the antipasto. A Portuguese favorite, the shrimp were not overly garlicky and were good, despite being on the edge of overcooked. The mushrooms were very stuffed and the crab was sweet and plentiful. The calamari was fried well, but the calamari was a little rubbery and the breading needed a little salt. The antipasto is a must try if you like all the classic cured meats. It is big enough for dinner, with plenty to share and lots left for the next day…salami, soppressata, prosciutto, provolone, gorgonzola, artichoke, roasted pepper, and more. It is a terrific opener, lunch, or late snack. Europa Grill also has salads, soups, sandwiches, paninis, wraps, burgers, and heros; who could try it all? We were so full, we could barely eat our entrees.

We picked a pizza, penne with shrimp, and filet mignon with scallops. The pizza was robust and quite filling. The crust was thick enough to support all the toppings and was well balanced. A couple could make a casual dinner of an appetizer and a pizza and be quite satisfied, indeed. The penne was very al dente, and the vodka sauce a little loose, but there were plenty of shrimp and peas. This dish tasted great for lunch the next day, as the penne absorbed some of the sauce. The restaurant offers at least five filet mignon dishes. We picked the one with scallops, in a cognac sauce, accompanied by steamed vegetables, mushrooms, and homemade potato chips. Hmm. It was good; not great, but not bad. I think next time, if I want beef, I will try a simple steak.

Now for dessert. We chose two and I wish we had tried more. They are all homemade and each looked delicious. Both of ours were really good. We choose the chocolate mousse, which was very chocolatey, silky-smooth, rich yet light. A good pick. We also chose a traditional Portuguese dessert called Serradura, which translates into sawdust in Portuguese. It is a layered dish of mango and pina-colada cream with crumbled Maria cookies in the middle (that’s the sawdust). It was light and not too sweet, and the summery flavors were a nice treat on a cold December night. The coffee was fresh. In general, Europa Grill is off to a good start and if they stay focused, they will build on their already growing following. It is worth a try and I will be back, as it will take several visits to sample all the items on the menu. It is a good place for a party and the owner will be just as excited as you to help you plan it. Europa Grill is BYOB.

The cost: Low to moderate

What we liked: The owner’s excitement about his new venture, the generous portions, the unhurried pace of the meal, the décor, and the desserts.

What could be better: A more managed menu, a more involved staff and a little more personality in the food.

We give it 4 J’s, plus a quarter more for what the future holds.

Europa Grill is located at 555 Shrewsbury Avenue in the Shrewsbury Village strip mall in Shrewsbury. They’re open seven days a week from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Call (732) 301-7100. The website is not launched at the time of this writing, but you can see the menu on Yelp and Facebook.

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