Behind the Plates: Olde New York brings ethnic blend to State College

Restaurant big on German food, Oktoberfest

Mirror photo by Cherie Hicks / Olde New York is located on East College Ave. in State College, away from the downtown area and Penn State.

STATE COLLEGE — Bernie O’Hare, a local scientist whose research takes him to Germany and Switzerland regularly, stops in the Olde New York restaurant here about once a month.

“This is an eclectic, neat restaurant that a lot of people just don’t know about,” said O’Hare, who lives about 25 miles away near Kylertown. “The German food is quite good. The Jagerschnitzel is excellent, and their spaetzle is very good. My kids love those noodles. It’s one of the few places around that you can get authentic German food.”

Tucked inside a strip mall off East College Avenue here, away from downtown and the Penn State campus, Olde New York Restaurant and Taproom actually can be so popular at times, you better make a reservation, said Andrew Waite, assistant manager.

“I recommend reservations on game day,” he said, referring to home Nittany Lion football games.

A lot of locals come in to watch the game on several large-screen televisions; other out-of-town fans come in to eat before heading over to Beaver Stadium.

“We’re outside of downtown, and a lot of people like to come here to avoid all that” traffic, Waite said. To make a reservation, call the restaurant or use the “Open Table” button on its website.

Olde New York has been open here for 10 years and formerly was a German-themed restaurant, called Schnitzels, in downtown Bellefonte. When that restaurant burned, owners Kenny and Susan Kempton decided to open anew in State College and expand beyond a simple German theme to capture “a plethora of different ethnicities in a friendly, warm, and inviting atmosphere,” Waite said, pointing to a history of the company. “It has the feel of being in New York at the turn of the century.”

Although the dining room and bar create for a large, open space that can accommodate nearly 240 people, you can sit away from the noise of the television and bar in a quaint corner, perhaps by the fireplace, or check out the walls lined with photos of old New York scenes.

You can order like you’re at a New York deli by building your own sandwiches, or select from a rotating daily sandwich special. Menu sandwiches and burgers have names such as Harlem, Brooklyn and Broadway. The Hell’s Kitchen Burger includes jalapeno peppers and spicy barbecue sauce, and the Little Italy is house-made hot Italian sausage smothered with sauteed peppers and onions on a sausage roll.

A lighter fare of more than a dozen soups and salads includes Manhattan Clam Chowder — the red one — and the Manhattan Salad that features red potatoes, roasted red peppers and anchovies among other ingredients.

Appetizers are all over the map, from a Cajun seasoned shrimp dish to Suzie Wong Egg Rolls to the Polish favorite pierogies, which are deep fried or sauteed and topped with caramelized onions, bacon, sour cream and cheddar cheese. Or you can opt for the Reuben Fries — which are topped with corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese baked and drizzled with Thousand Island dressing.

You also can get a regular Reuben sandwich, which is what customers Molly Gnan and her Penfield neighbor, Ray Stotler, ordered for lunch recently. It was his first time in Olde New York, but Gnan says she makes the nearly 70-mile drive over several times a year.

“I really like the Reuben sandwiches and the pierogies,” she said.

Steve Hinckley, a law professor at Penn State, and his wife eat lunch regularly here, at least once a week.

“The service is great,” he said. “I always get the Buffalo Chicken Salad, and I love it.”

The true German specialty dishes are only available after 4 p.m. and the most popular are the Jagerschnitzel and the Bavarian Schnitzel, said Waite.

“Most everything we serve is homemade in house,” including the schnitzels, sausage and sauces, he said.

Waite said ONY is ahead of the game when it comes to celebrating Oktoberfest in style.

“You’ll see some restaurants starting to put on some specials, but we do it all year long,” he said.

Of course, the restaurant beefs up its celebration, and has added rotating feasts each week through Oct. 29: Wiener Schnitzel a la Holstein, or a veal cutlet specialty from Vienna; Schweine-haxe, or a large smoked pork shank; Octoberfest Sausage, or a house-made sausage of venison, pork and Oktoberfest beer; and Apfel Schnitzel, or pork schnitzel over a bed of spaetzle, covered with sweet apple jus.

The accompaniments vary and include hot German potato salad, red cabbage and sauerkraut.

The Deutsch flavor doesn’t stop for the bar either. At least a half-dozen Oktoberfest beers are on tap, too, along with a regular, large selection of libations, including area craft beers. Daily drink and pub specials rotate, such as wings on Thursday, five for $3.75. The Bavarian variety, a barbecue style flavor “with a kick,” is one of the most popular, said Waite.

Of course, it is made in-house.

Mirror Staff Writer Cherie Hicks is at 949-7030.

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Olde New York Bar & Grill

2298 E. College Ave., State College

(814) 237-1582

Online: www.OldeNewYork.net, www.facebook.com/OldeNewYork/

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Bar open later if busy)

Atmosphere: Casual

Specials: Specialties of Olde New York

Capacity: 240

Notes: Takeout; reservations (recommended on game days)

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