By Sabrina Mastronardo ‘15 & Anastasia Gayol Cintron ‘17 | Collaborative Writers
Photos by Anastasia Gayol Cintron ‘17|The Lafayette
Trying to find a place to eat at 4:30 pm on a Tuesday in downtown Easton is difficult, especially one that is open, populated, and attractive to two stylish yet college-broke girls.
Thankfully, we were able to find refuge in Valenca, a Mediterranean and Portuguese restaurant along the Centre Square of Easton. Its outdoor seating and ambiance first attracted us to view the menu, which convinced us to stay.
The menu was a bit misleading. Marketed as a restaurant that focuses on “alfresco European dining,” Valenca’s menu hardly reflects this claim. While it does offer many European dishes, its menu is a home to Asian and American cuisine as well.
Anastasia: I went with Valenca’s crispy gnocchi, a rustic Mediterranean dish and our waitress’ recommendation. Despite its name, the dish was primarily a seafood entrée that was decorated with lightly fried gnocchi. Gnocchi, a potato stuffed pasta, can be distastefully heavy, but Valenca’s was light as clouds.
The gnocchi had a tempura-like taste, which perfectly complimented the bed of swordfish it rested on. The swordfish in my dish was cut up in square chunks and actually appeared to be tofu at first glance. Despite its odd appearance, it was neither overcooked nor underdone, and tasted exactly as it should.
To top off the crispy gnocchi was a savory house-made puttanesca sauce with spinach, capers, and roasted tomatoes. Served on a beautiful hand-painted ceramic casserole dish, the meal brought me back to my Greek grandmother’s cooking and how similarly she plated her food.
One possible complaint of the dish was that as time elapsed, like most seafood, the swordfish dried out. Also, the sauce in combination with the fish might be a bit too salty for some palates. I saved a few pieces from the breadbasket to mollify the salt in this dish.
Sabrina: To contrast Anastasia’s saucy seafood dish, I ordered a sweeter and lighter meal. The Valenca Pizza is a personal pan pizza topped with fig jam, brie cheese, prosciutto, arugula, and drizzles of honey.
The many flavors balanced each other out. Melted brie and peppery arugula helped diffuse the sweetness of fig jam, while a touch of honey added a pleasantly surprising aftertaste.
The pizza’s overall flavor was extremely sweet. Experiencing this in the first slice was heavenly; by the second, I had to request a doggie bag. The sweet fruity taste of fig jam became too dominant for my liking, at least to eat all in one sitting. Anastasia recommended that the meal would serve well as an appetizer rather than an entrée.
My one complaint of the Valenca Pizza was its base. A crispy crust led to a soggy middle, which was a disappointing discovery after enjoying the top-half.
Overall, the food at Valenca was delicious, flavorful, and carefully prepared. Located in the heart of Easton, it’s a special place to dine.