Well Served
Horsham’s Buona Via brings the cuisine and service of Center City dining to the heart of Montgomery County
by Bill Donahue

The dramatic Tuscan façade, complete with its elegant terracotta roof and outdoor veranda, is nothing if not distinctive. It’s fitting then, because it gives guests the impression that, when they walk through the building’s entrance, they will participate in something truly unique.

Welcome to Buona Via Italian Seafood & Grill in Horsham. Since opening in 2007, the restaurant has been proving to guests—quite convincingly, in fact—that they don’t have to head to Center City to experience some of the most memorable cuisine and service they will ever enjoy. 

“What excites me the most about what we’re doing here is the quality of food we’re creating, using a diversity of fresh, great ingredients,” says David Marques, executive chef at Buona Via. “I think people in the suburbs have gotten used to settling for a certain level of restaurant, but the same people who live up here also go downtown, so they are educated customers. I think we stand out because we treat them that way. You’re going to find things here that you’re not going to find anywhere else.”

In other words, Buona Via takes chances with its inventive menu and welcomes guests to come along for the ride. A recent example of the inventive daily specials that enable Chef Marques to put his considerable talents on display: tiger shrimp imported from Nigeria that weigh more than 1 pound each. Chef Marques, who is of Portuguese descent, has elevated Buona Via into one of the Philadelphia area’s best-kept secrets. Based on the regularly full parking lot and the elbow-to-elbow closeness of the beautifully appointed bar area during happy hour, however, the secret is getting out.

Having earned his degree in culinary arts from The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, Marques cut his teeth in the kitchens of some of the city’s finest restaurants, namely The Striped Bass and Dante & Luigi’s. He also spent several years in Portugal, where he had his own restaurant, to perfect his craft before coming back stateside. His Mediterranean heritage pairs perfectly with the gastronomic passion of co-owner Salvatore Carratta, who himself hails from the coastal town of Gallipoli, Italy.

At Buona Via, Marques’ specialties are whole fish and meat dishes, as well as other seafood recipes that blend the innovative with the traditional—everything from Cioppino and paella to veal osso bucco and a range of freshly made pastas. Although seafood is perhaps Buona Via’s greatest strength, the kitchen is surprisingly adept.

“The menu here is well rounded, and it’s geared to the people who come here every day,” Chef Marques says. “We like to take risks [with the menu], and the clientele trusts us to do that. We try to be as diverse as we can, but if there’s something specific a customer would like, we try to never say no.”

Buona Via thrives not only as a restaurant but also as a destination for events and private parties. It can accommodate parties for as few as 10 guests and as many as 110, though it also provides catering services for off-site events, whether it’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Regardless of a guest’s needs, the family-owned establishment aims to please. In addition Carratta and his wife, Patsy Sheremeta, general manager Aprile Marques (stepdaughter of Carratta and also wife of Chef Marques) ensures a memorable experience from the moment one walks through the door.

“When people come in, there’s always something exciting going on,” says Chef Marques. “I love that we’re always here. In fact, the night before Superstorm Sandy we were here till 9:30. With a lot of places, you rarely see the chef or owner anymore, but here you always see the same faces here to help you out. … It’s a hectic business with long hours, but we’re creating great food right here in the suburbs for an educated clientele, and that’s what interests me most about where we are right now.”

Buona Via Italian Seafood & Grill
426 Horsham Road
Horsham, PA 19044
215-672-5595 | www.buonavia.com

Photograph by Kim Billingsley