A Winning Combination
A dish called crab and sausage amatriciana strikes a chord with guests of Ron’s Original Bar & Grille
by Bill Donahue

Some restaurants have such expansive menus that guests might come away with the impression that the chef lacks focus or confidence. The menu at Ron’s Original Bar & Grille (74 Uwchlan Ave., Exton, ronsoriginal.com) is rather wide ranging, mostly because there are few, if any, menu items guests would choose to do without.

“We sell a lot of everything,” says owner Ron Inverso, who, although not a classically trained chef, creates the majority of the recipes behind his award-winning menu. “We do well with jumbo lump crab cakes, hormone-free strip steak, filet mignon. Pretty much everything we do is made from scratch; that’s just the way I was taught.”

One of the newer dishes to have struck a chord with guests is the crab and sausage amatriciana. When Inverso “just came up with” this specialty dish and added it to the menu about a year ago, it quickly became a crowd favorite.

“We seem to do well with dishes that have a combination of different proteins,” he says. “It has sausage and crab, but it has pancetta in it also. So we take some shallots, the pancetta, the sausage coins, and we sauté that together and add some sliced garlic, a little white wine, some Pomodoro sauce, which is a chunky tomato sauce, and some Calabrese pepper spread, which is like a chopped spicy pepper. We take a little bit of that, together with some crab meat and some fresh basil, and serve it with Fettuccine. Then, it’s ready for the table.”

Inverso’s path to becoming a restaurateur was anything but typical. He spent time working as an engineer and on the wholesale side of the automotive business before he chose to pursue his “calling” at age 30. He opened his first restaurant in 1982, the Pepper Mill in West Chester, using the lessons he learned there to create the blueprint for Ron’s Original Bar & Grille in Exton, which opened eight years later. Now celebrating its 25-year anniversary, Ron’s has become a destination with a vibrant bar scene, offering live entertainment every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Of course, Ron’s main attraction is its copious lineup of made-from-scratch dishes, most of which have an Italian influence.

“We’re not 100 percent Italian, but we give people what they want,” Inverso says. “A lot of what we do is available gluten free. You wouldn’t believe how many requests we get for [gluten free]. … Our meatballs are gluten free, and even our bread crumbs are gluten free. We try to make almost everything that way because that’s what people are asking for. It’s not that easy, but we think it’s important.”

Photograph by Jody Robinson