Francisco’s on the River – A Second Look

by artfuldiner on July 29, 2019

in Artful Diner Review, Opinion, Pennsylvania, Review, Wining and Dining

Francisco’s on the River

1251 River Road

Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania

(215) 321-8789

Francisco's on the River - ExteriorFirst reviewed in December 2017, Francisco’s remains a local (and personal) favorite. Chef/proprietor Francisco Argueta, a native of El Salvador, has stated that something like ninety percent of his customers are regulars; and I certainly have no reason to doubt his word. So, if you happen to be cruising by on a journey to or from the New Hope/Lambertville area, this charming little BYOB makes the perfect stopover for a casual dinner.

During my most recent visit, on a warm & inviting Saturday evening, my dining partner and I lucked out and managed to snare one of the coveted tables on the outdoor patio. Which, as it turned out, was quite fortuitous, as the interior dining areas were packed to the gills, and the noise level (when the door was left ajar), even from our vantage point, was nothing less than lethal.

Not a great deal has changed here since my initial review… From the moment you’re seated, servers still hawk the establishment’s famous whole wheat garlic bread. It isn’t complimentary, but $3.00 is a paltry sum to shell out for something so utterly delicious. In point of fact, it’s downright sensual and guaranteed to get those gastric juices flowing for the good things to come.

Francisco's - Arugula Salad with Shrimp Citrus VinaigretteThe first thing you’ll undoubtedly notice when you check out the appetizers is that salads make up a lion’s share of the possibilities (and are also noted as daily specials). So, in case you missed the not-so-subtle hint, let me spell it out for you (as I did in my initial review)… when it comes to starters, greenery is clearly the way to go here. I’ve been treated, for example, to such delicacies as a Blueberry and Pear Salad with goat cheese & white balsamic vinaigrette, as well as an incomparable Caprese Salad spruced up with a fabulously flavorful basil pesto. Most recently, however, a special Arugula Salad adorned with shrimp, chunks of tomato & orange segments tossed in a lemon/olive oil vinaigrette (pictured) filled the bill quite nicely.

Francisco's - Herb-Crusted HalibutAlthough Francisco’s is best known for its hearty, old-fashioned Italian cuisine, on this particular occasion both my dining partner and I settled on the slightly more innovative seafood specials… she with the Tilapia topped with Crabmeat; I with the Herb-Crusted Halibut (pictured) adorned with an excellent fennel citrus sauce. The accompanying vegetable medley, while adding a welcome splash of color to the proceedings, was strictly generic on the palate. The red-skinned mashed potatoes, on the other hand, were decadently rich & creamy, beautifully seasoned… and worth the price of admission.

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If Francisco’s has a house specialty, it is undoubtedly Chef Argueta’s brilliant take on the two ultimate paradigms of Neapolitan comfort cuisine. His Eggplant Parmigiano, which usually suffers from plebian overtones, is deliciously picturesque and decidedly upscale. Fourteen (14) layers of wafer-thin sliced eggplant are bathed in the restaurant’s red sauce and enhanced with a sprinkling of parmesan and basil. Equally pleasing to both eye and palate is his Lasagna (pictured). Luscious layers of perfectly cooked pasta are interspersed with ricotta cheese & Bolognese supplemented by porcini mushrooms, smoked bacon, mozzarella cheese, and more of that irresistible red sauce.

Francisco's on the River - Coconut Cake, House FavoriteDesserts include such first-rate items as Crème Brûlée, Flourless Chocolate Cake, Coconut Cake, Chocolate Torte and Lemon Tart. The Coconut Cake (pictured) is the house favorite; and, in my estimation, deserving of that accolade. The cake itself is marvelously moist; the icing appropriately sweet… but not cloyingly so. On the other hand, after a hearty Italian dinner, a light, citrusy, palate-cleansing dessert might be just the ticket… And, when it is available, the aforementioned Lemon Tart is just what the doctor ordered.

As noted above, Francisco’s is a BYOB restaurant… and a good bottle of Italian vino is certainly called for. However, if you also happen to be in search of an enjoyable preprandial libation, allow me to suggest the cozy, comfortable, and extremely casual Bowman’s Tavern, just up the road toward New Hope.

Bon Appétit!


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