EXETER — Pull into Sabatini’s parking lot on Wyoming Avenue in Exeter on a weeknight, and you might think it’s a Friday.
While it may very well be a Tuesday, as it was when I visited, you’re not crazy for suspecting
the aforementioned. If you’ve never been there before, you probably didn’t expect to see several dozen cars on a weeknight.
That’s was the case, though, in the parking lot nestled between Sabatini’s Pizza and its companion property, Sabatini’s Bottleshop & Beer Bar – a business, which now exists as one, that’s been around since 1958 when John and Catherine Sabatini opened shop.
Since then, ownership passed to Joe and Carol Sabatini in the early 1970s, and now it’s their son Lindo’s time to run the family business.
He’s done so since 2005, making expansions and modernizations – the biggest of which being opening the Bottleshop & Beer
Bar in June 2015. It’s quickly become a hotspot for lovers of craft and imported beer due to the “overall selection, environment and effort we put forth to make sure people are getting the best possible beer,” Sabatini said last week after my dining partner and I finished a meal next door at the famous pizza and pasta establishment.
After dinner, we had to check out the Bottleshop & Beer Bar, with its long, poured concrete bar and seating for nearly 100. In
addition to the bar, which is known as the country’s top seller of Delirium Red Belgian Golden Ale and the Netherlands’ La Trappe Witte Trappist, it’s also sells 3,500 brands of beer to take home.
Customers can make their selections as they push shopping carts that have a spot designed for a fitting pint of beer, making for the ultimate beer-browsing experience.
It was no surprise to me to hear that Men’s Journal has voted it spot number one in the state to buy beer, in addition to being ranked ninth in the country.
Men’s Journal calls it the “front of the pack” when it comes to tasting room-style stores in Pennsylvania.
While my dinner partner and I could have sat at the Beer Bar and enjoyed an evening of pizza and beer, we wanted to try some of the Italian dishes and other features on the menu at Sabatini’s Pizza, so we started the night there.
As we sat in a booth with high wooden backs, we were immediately impressed with the intimacy the seating provided – perfect for holding court with a business partner, friend or signifi cant other.
My Chimay, a Trappist Belgium beer that the simplest of beer drinkers can enjoy, came out served with a specialty glass, and
my dining partner choose a glass of Moscato off the wine list. Both the beer and wine lists had something for everyone.
We started off with a salad and an appetizer. The selected salad, for starters, was the Insalata Di Fratelli – a salad complete with homemade mozzarella and roasted peppers on a bed of romaine lettuce with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Since it was so tasty, we had no problem splitting and finishing the entire thing.
The breaded shrimp, crisp and golden, was served with a cocktail sauce and fries.
We savored both before our pizza, fixed with the perfect blend of sauce and cheese, came out. We both remarked about its beauty and even moreso about its light, sweet taste as we dug in, nearly finishing the whole pie in about 10 minutes.
The recipe is the original from the days when John Sabatini was at the helm.
Since we were both set on pasta for dinner, we were pleasantly surprised when our entrees arrived.
The baked ziti was served with loads of cheese baked atop the scrumptious penne pasta and lightly spread marina sauce. This
was truly a dish worthy of having an Instagram presence and it wasn’t long before the “likes” began, following upload.
It was fi lling, and with the generous portion size we were able to save the remainder for lunch the next day.
We also treated ourselves to the cheese ravioli with meat sauce – and I mean real, chunky meat sauce. It came out decked in sauce, which left this pasta fan more than satisfied.
While we were too full for a dessert this time, the Banana Foster Bites looked especially inviting.
After dinner, as mentioned, we walked a few steps next door to see the bar, packed with beer lovers and tasters on this Tuesday, as well as shoppers purchasing six packs, crowlers to go and more.
“All the time, people say I can’t believe this is here,” said Lindo, mentioning that even though the Bottleshop & Beer Bar has been open since 2015, new customers still come in on the regular.
And, if you take this writer’s advice, eating or drinking at this spot regularly is sure to heighten your palate’s sensations.
Happy dining … and drinking.