The Newtowne Grille has come a long way since Socrates Toulopoulos opened its doors in Cambridge's Porter Square in 1966. And by a long way I mean 12 miles, as Socrates' family has extended the reach of the still-standing Porter Square eatery to Boston Road in Billerica.
Mike Toulopoulos and his family opened the second Newtowne Grille five years ago, less than a mile from the Burlington line in the space that was most recently Antonio's. Toulopoulos chose Billerica because of its proximity to his family-owned liquor store.
While the Cambridge location has a nostalgic feel to it (its booths were from the family's first restaurant venture, the now-closed Mystic Diner), Toulopoulos tailored the space at Billerica Newtowne Grille, and the restaurant's menu, to the area and its clientele.
"We focus more on family dining," Toulopoulos said, adding that the eatery draws a large crowd on game days, which is not surprising because six flat screen TVs border the walls of the bar and lounge area.
To say the menu at Newtowne Grille is eclectic would be an understatement -- there is seriously something for everybody.
"It's because of that variety that people come back more than once a week," Toulopoulos said. "The biggest thing is that we need to make sure we are giving (our customers) a good product. In this area people want to eat... and they know what quality food is."
Some of the menu mainstays include Toulopoulos' favorite, the Mediterranean Pasta (the diner's choice of noodles, tossed with sautéed spinach, feta, garlic, kalamata olives, chopped tomato, onion, and olive oil), and a lengthy list of Neopolitan-style hand-tossed pizzas, made with Socrates' recipe.
"Ever since my grandfather opened the doors it's been the same sauce, same recipe," Toulopoulos said.
The Grilled Lamb Chops are another classic Newtowne Grille dish. The chops continue to be cooked traditionally with salt, pepper, oregano, garlic and lemon, but are served with more lemon and a side of brown mushroom gravy, an accompaniment added at the suggestion of a new chef.
"My grandfather never would have allowed it," Toulopoulos said. "But he would be proud to see how far we've brought both Cambridge and here."
838 Boston Road, Billerica, 978-667-0021, www.newtownegrille.com
- Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Sunday, noon-1 a.m.
- Parking: Limited offstreet parking
- Reservations: Accepted for large parties
- Menu: A little bit of everything, game day specials at the bar (including two pounds of wings for $10)
- Price range: Entrees $10.95-$21.95
- Atmosphere: Casual, family-friendly, lots of TVs in the bar area for game days
- Try this: Honey Chipotle Wings, Rosie's Cheese Fries (steak fries covered with cheese, bacon bits, and sour cream -- sirloin chili is optional), Steak Tips (served with green beans and mashed potatoes), Newtowne's Own Cacciatore (sausage and chicken cacciatore with melted mozzarella), Grilled Lamb Chops.
- Cocktails: Stop by for a few seasonal favorites including the Cinnamon Apple Rum Rita (Bacardi Oakheart Rum, Grand Marnier, lime, cinnamon, apple cider) and the Angry Harvest (Absolut Mandarin, peach schnapps, cinnamon syrup, and Angry Orchard Crisp Apple cider).