Moonlight Café in Dover: Cozy Italian restaurant with modern flair
If you go
Location: 4140 Carlisle Road, Dover Township
Rebecca's pick: Moonlight Crab Dip, $9 and ricotta gnocchi with marinara, $15
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, closed Sundays and Mondays
Price range: $4, cup of French Onion soup, $25 zuppa de pesce
Accepts: Cash and credit
Kid's menu: Yes
Details: Call 717-292-5643, visit moonlightcafeyork.com , or search Moonlight Cafe on Facebook
It can be easy to drive by Moonlight Café in Dover Township and not think twice. The tiny restaurant sits back off of Carlisle Road and the often crowded parking lot can overshadow the bustle that goes on inside.
But if you take the time to weave through the cars and find a place to park, Moonlight Café will welcome you with open arms.
The homey café seats less than 50 people. A bustling lunch crowd means diners might have to wait a few moments to find a seat, but it's worth it to many who frequent the restaurant. No empty seats to find? No worries. They'll order something to go.
While the Moonlight Café has found its home in York County for 10 years, owner Marc Dursunian is bringing it to new life. He and his wife moved from New York and purchased the restaurant in 2014 when the original owner sought to retire, Dursunian said.
"I always wanted to have my own restaurant at some point in life," Dursunian said.
With a background in restaurant management, owning the Moonlight Café was a dream for Dursunian.
While the restaurant was known to many regulars, it's now become a destination for many who live throughout the county. With fresh made ricotta gnocchi, cappuccinos and garlic bread, the restaurant keeps hungry patrons coming back.
Since taking over the restaurant, Dursunian has made some changes, but not necessarily to the menu. The restaurant used to only accept cash for payment, but now takes major credit cards. They've also stepped up their outreach on social media, as well as customer service, Dursunian said.
"The restaurant has been around for a long time, but we're just starting to be recognized by some people," Dursunian said. "It's like we're being rediscovered."
During a recent visit for lunch, my husband and I were seated in a cozy corner table. The small space appears larger thanks to the open kitchen. A counter is all that separates diners from the bustle of the cooks.
The maroon walls and ceiling give the restaurant a romantic feel while waitresses wiz around refilling water glasses and recommending dishes.
We ordered the Moonlight Crab Dip ($9) and gobbled down the homemade pita chips covered in melted cheese and smothered in the cream cheese. Each chip was a delightful combination of chewy and crispy.
Our entrees each included a fresh salad and dinner rolls. I ordered the ricotta gnocchi with marinara sauce ($15) and the plate was full of light and fluffy gnocchi pillows and a sweet tomato sauce.
My husband had the spaghetti bolognese ($12) and the serving was so large he packed it away for dinner later that night.
Those who visit Moonlight Café for lunch can take advantage of a variety of options. A variety of paninis grace the menu, including the ultimate grilled cheese ($6), the Moonlight cheese steak ($7) and the Tuscan Italian chicken ($7).
Popular pasta dishes include the chicken afumicato ($16), featuring penne pasta topped with a brandy rose sauce, fresh spinach, sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers and smoked cheese. If seafood is calling your name, try the shrimp champagne ($21), where a raspberry champagne cream sauce covers tomato, mushrooms, spinach and fettuccine.
A rotating menu of lunch specials and fresh drinks also are available to diners.
"We think if people like how we're doing things, we'll keep at it," Dursunian said. "We feel like we're on a running train and we're going to keep it chugging along."
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