The homemade chips were great - fried, lightly salted and served fresh in a basket. The salsa looked pale but was surprisingly tasty. It was not hot, but it was full of flavor - tomatoes, onions, peppers, celery, cilantro, garlic. One bite led to another and soon we had eaten all the chips. There was enough salsa to take home for later.
I had ordered the California burrito which came with pico de gallo and sour cream, but the burrito in front of me did not fit the description. Yes, it was a beef burrito and the meat in the flour tortilla was a generous portion of shredded beef. But this burrito had no pico de gallo - a fresh salsa made from tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, lime and cilantro - and no sour cream. Instead, it was covered with a cooked red sauce.
I looked at the menu again and saw that the waitress had brought me the first item on the Mexican special menu - a beef burrito costing a couple dollars more. The difference between the California burrito and mine was the red sauce. But what a red sauce! This sauce was rich and full, savory and authentic.
I asked the waitress about the sauce. She said the cook made the red sauce and also a green sauce, and she pointed to the enchiladas verdes or rojas on the menu.
"The cook makes everything fresh, the refried beans, the rice, the chips and the salsa," she said. I made a mental note to order enchiladas verdes and enchiladas with ranchera sauce on subsequent visits.
The beans were cold, but when they were reheated, they were delicious. I could taste the original bean and imagine how the cook had soaked the red beans, cooked them, mashed them, flavored them and refried them. The rice was a simple white rice with bits of carrot, but real and fresh. I was delighted with my unexpectedly authentic Mexican meal.
My friend was equally happy with her pizza. "It tastes like pizza," she said. "Good crust, good cheese, good sauce." We waved at the man standing by the pizza ovens but he was far away and could not see us.
We sat back to chat and to look around. There were six booths, four tables, one big party room. The restaurant was clean and simple. There was no artwork and no background music, except for the sounds of a distant radio from the kitchen area. The floor and some of the walls were decorated in green and white tiles. The ceiling fans were like stained glass. A Penn State Mont Alto pennant hung on one wall. There was open seating around the kitchen area, cozy and friendly, staff and locals talking and laughing at lunch time.
We decided to share a dessert. We had a choice of fried ice cream or cheesecake. We chose the cheesecake and it came decorated with a puff of whipped topping and drizzled with Hershey's chocolate sauce. The taste was delicious, light and airy, sweet and milky, with a graham cracker crust. But Jo said it was carmel mocha cheesecake and I said it was chocolate light. We both agreed that it was a generous slice, a nice way to end a meal, and definitely not dense New York cheesecake.
The waitress made sure I received a senior discount without my asking. Our experience was a good one, a wonderful first day of spring. The forsythia broke into bloom as we drove home south across the border.
Arturo's Pizzeria and Mexican Cuisine
5 stars (out of 5)
Ambience - 3 stars
Service - 4 stars
Food - 4 stars
Value - 5 stars
Address: 8160 Anthony Highway, Quincy, Pa.
Hours: Open 7 days a week, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Style: Mexican and Italian