Old Favorites, New Faces Combine to Create Innovative Restaurant and Cuisine Scene

Licking County's dining scene is a mix of old favorites and newcomers, all with a family-friendly flair and enough choices to make even the finickiest foodie happy.

On Sunday, May 8, 2011 - 11:01

With everything from pot roast to pasta, and sopapillas to salsas, even the pickiest palates can find plenty to like on the Licking County restaurant scene.
There’s American and international cuisine to be had, for starters, and fresh breads and pies for those who are preparing their own tables. And these family-owned businesses are a part of the community as well, so it’s like dining out with friends every time.

Riley’s Bakery
Newark’s third-oldest business, Riley’s Bakery has been turning out legendary custom cakes, pies and breads for more than 80 years. All of those, not to mention the legendary doughnuts, are made from scratch, not a preservative in sight.
Over the years the bakery has grown to add a line of deli products and catering, and continues to be a local landmark in downtown Newark.

La Paloma Restaurants
Still looking for something to precede the sweet stuff? Try the sopapillas at one of La Paloma’s three restaurants in Newark, Heath or Mount Vernon. But no matter what you pick off the menu, be assured that it’s from a family recipe brought by Gabriel and Marcia Buena when they settled here in 1975 and opened their first restaurant.

The sopapillas rule the day, filled with everything from beef and cheese to chicken or vegetables, and all tucked into a flaky crust created by Marcia Buena to resist the frying oil.

The Grill on Twenty First
For fare with roots a little closer to home, be sure to check out The Grill on Twenty First, part of a growing chain that now includes The Grill Works Deli, the Water Front Grill at Buckeye Lake and the Grill’s Chop House. The four are the brainchildren of restaurateur Eric Mason, who launched his first restaurant in 2007 and has been growing in every direction ever since.

The menu’s upscale-casual at The Grill on Twenty First, ranging from soups and pizzas to an array of sandwiches including Reubens and BLTs. More traditional menu items include the pot roast and pork osso buco, which are almost as popular as the 28-ounce signature Porterhouse, served strip style for one or two diners.
There’s also a lounge area that’s become a favorite watering hole for locals, and a second area that serves as a gathering place, so that adults and families alike can enjoy an evening out all under one roof.

The Grill at the Works, housed within The Works science and technology museum, takes care of patrons and nearby workers with a full deli-style operation, while the Buckeye Lake location is a full-service dining, catering and special-event facility. The latest addition is Grill’s Chop House, another successful Mason adventure in downtown Newark’s former Natoma restaurant.