One of the joys of Win(e)ding Roads is that in addition to discovering hidden gems among local wineries and wines, along the way you also discover places and people you wouldn’t otherwise meet. I have friends who have lived in Connecticut all of their lives who have told me they’ve never been to a Connecticut winery, and who are amazed that I’ve traveled more of their home state than they have. Without Win(e)ding Roads, that would have been me as well…
So when heading out on a win(e)day, I make a point to slow down and check out the surrounding area – drive through the local towns… find an interesting local restaurant… stop at local farmstands or antique shops. It makes for a longer, but far more interesting, day.
Which is how Maree and I found Rieglesville, Pennsylvania. As we finished our visit to Alba Vineyards, we asked our hosts for lunch recommendations; they pointed us towards Pennsylvania and the Riegelsville Inn.
Riegelsville lies directly across the Delaware River from Milford, NJ and a scant 10 minutes down the road from both the Alba and Villa Milagro wineries.. A National Historic District, the town is one square mile, with a population of 863. Located in the far northeast corner of Bucks County, one of the three original counties in Pennsylvania, Riegelsville is roughly 40 miles north of Washington Crossing, PA and the Washington Crossing Historic Park.
The town was named for it’s founder, Benjamin Riegel, who settled in the area in the early 19th century. Throughout the 19th century, the town benefited from the area’s growing industrialization and its proximity to the Delaware River which was used to ship coal, iron ore and goods. By the end of the 19th century, Riegelsville was a thriving mill town and paper company executives built large houses along what is now referred to as “Mansion Row.” Many of these houses have been carefully restored, including the Benjamin Riegel House, which is still owned and occupied by the Riegel Family.
The town is also known for the Roebling Bridge which spans the Delaware River providing both foot and automobile traffic with an easy crossing between Milford and Riegelsville. Designed by Washington Roebling, who also designed and built the Brooklyn Bridge, the bridge is one of the “few remaining multi-span, highway suspension bridges with continuous cables.” It’s a lovely bridge, almost ethereal looking, particularly when viewed through the trees from the bluffs overlooking the river on the Pennsylvania side.
The Riegelsville Inn, where we did stop for lunch, sits directly across from the bridge. Built in 1838 by Benjamin Riegel and continuously operating since then, the Inn still occupies the original building and offers overnight accommodations, a restaurant and a pub. The building is fronted by a large two-story porch which abuts the street and appears to be a gathering place for visitors and locals alike who come for a place to relax and have a drink or a meal. The first floor is given over to the restaurant and the pub, and there’s also a patio off the pub with additional seating. The interior of the building is carefully preserved, and the decor is carefully done to both highlight and evoke the character of the original architechtural features.
The menus were interesting and fairly extensive; the restaurant serves lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, and there is also a Pub menu. We dined off the lunch menu, selecting the house salad with shrimp (me) and the caeser salad with chicken (Maree). The salads were fresh, and while I didn’t ask, I suspect many of the ingredients were produced locally.
Unfortunately, I had not done any prior research on Riegelsville, so we didn’t know to take a drive through town and down “Mansion Row” before heading back to New Jersey. But even without the tour, it was a relaxing lunch in an atmosphere that felt like we had stepped back into the lazy summer, small-town America afternoons of a previous age.