On a recent afternoon, a few friends and I settled into our table on Mona Lisa's sunny enclosed porch for a birthday lunch. Next to the food, this bright and attractive porch is best feature of this enduring Newtown restaurant.
Since 1990, Mona Lisa and been dishing up Italian and American favorites to hungry customers. When I first moved to town, Mona Lisa was located further north on Route 25 where Steven's Diner now resides. In 2002, the restaurant moved to its current location, which used to be The Newtown Inn. The restaurant added the enclosed sun room more than two years ago.
In addition to the enclosed porch, this historic building has several rooms for general dining, a full bar and a private room for parties. Adjacent to the sunny porch is the outdoor patio, which offers further seating when the weather cooperates. Typical of old buildings, the interior rooms tend to be dark, so I prefer to eat on the porch or patio.
While we scanned the menu, our server brought a basket of assorted sliced breads with what we determined was a mild red pepper butter. My companions ordered the Chicken Club Sandwich ($10) and the California Chicken Wrap ($10). I chose the special Split Pea Soup ($3) with the Mediterranean Salad ($8).
The Chicken Club looked tempting, with a fried chicken cutlet layered on a roll with bacon, lettuce, tomato and sliced red onion. A delicious pesto mayonnaise was served on the side, as well as an unusual tasting coleslaw. The wrap was stuffed with slices of grilled chicken, avocados, lettuce and tomato and served with the same pesto mayonnaise and coleslaw. Both sandwiches came with delectably crispy seasoned French fries that I could not stop stealing from my friend's plate.
My cup of soup was surprisingly light and fresh. This wasn't your typical thick and pasty split pea soup. The slightly creamy broth was mixed with diced ham, celery and carrots, with enough peas for good flavor. The salad was a suitable size for lunch and topped with plenty of vegetables and large chunks of feta. The tangy house vinaigrette had a tinge of lemon that complemented the salty feta nicely.
Our drinks and meals were served promptly, but when we were ready to leave, it took a while to get the check even though the restaurant was relatively empty. I found the pricing to be reasonable for the quality of the food and the pleasant atmosphere.
The restaurant welcomes children and has a kids' menu featuring chicken, steak or pasta. Some pasta and Italian specialties, such as Chicken Parmesan ($12) and Penne Bolognese ($11) are available for lunch. The dinner menu offers heartier portions of Italian classics as well as other entrées, including the Grilled Veal Chop with prosciutto and mozzarella ($36) and Pan-Seared Scallops flavored with a red pepper honey glaze ($24).
Mona Lisa is a popular spot for holiday meals, such as Mother's Day, so plan ahead with reservations, especially if you want to be seated outdoors or on the porch.