Are you craving a taste of the Mediterranean? If so, it’s as close as Manheim Township, where Gibraltar Restaurant makes its home in the Worthington complex on the Oregon Pike.
Gibraltar, which opened in 1997, was originally located in Lancaster. Next month, the restaurant will celebrate its eighth anniversary at its Manheim Township location. The restaurant is owned by Carl Vitale, who also serves as executive chef, Salvatore Mancuso and Pete Keares. Its décor and menu are inspired by the Mediterranean. “We offer a casual, fine-dining experience. We don’t have the white linens of traditional fine dining, but we do have the attentive service,” says Salvatore. “We want people to enjoy the atmosphere, the food and the service. And both the service and food are consistent. We strive to be the best in the county.”
Light and airy is the first impression, due to the many windows and soaring ceilings that define the space. The lighting elements add a touch of modern styling. The walls of the restaurant are painted a hue of Mediterranean blue. Additionally, a wall in each area features a colorful hand-painted map that depicts a region of the Mediterranean. Art from area artists is also highlighted.
Indoor seating accommodates about 120 guests. “At our former location, it was more of one large open space, so it’s nice to have the separate dining areas,” Chef Carl says of the two dining rooms and the private wine room. “It’s a bit quieter for our guests.”
The bar area is located right off the entry lobby and is situated between the two dining areas. It seats about 30 at the bar and at high-tops and offers a small, casual seating area.
There’s also a seasonal outdoor dining area that seats about 70. A pergola shades the area; patio lights are strung from it to provide a festive atmosphere at night.
Classically trained with an Italian background, Chef Carl says sustainability is an important element of Gibraltar’s menu. “We like to keep it local [as much as possible] and fresh; we use the best ingredients we can find,” he says, adding that he often works with local farmers to source produce, including ingredients such as Kennett Square mushrooms. “Spring and summer are the most exciting time of the year for me as a chef. There’s lots of fresh, local ingredients and we lighten up the menu by adding some fruits,” he explains.
The menu includes a raw seafood bar (among the selections are Blue Point oysters, littleneck clams and shrimp or lobster cocktail); shellfish platter (three options with selections that include lobster, oysters, shrimp, blue crab and more); and caviar (selections include Siberian baerii, white sturgeon and Italian osetra). Appetizers include tuna tartare, a crab cake and Bang Island mussels among others. Soups, salads and sides (truffle fries with garlic aioli are among the choices) are also on the menu. Main dishes range from pasta (fettuccine with lobster) to seafood (sesame-seared yellowfin tuna is among the choices) and dry-aged steaks. Chef Carl considers lobster fettuccine to be one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. The dish features Maine lobster, sweet corn, fresh herbs, Americaine (chef’s special sauce) and Parmigiano cheese. “A lot of people come just for that dish,” he says.
Other top sellers are the whole-roasted branzino, a mild white fish that he says may be served whole-roasted or fileted tableside. Daily chef’s specials are also offered. “Every day we get a fresh fish in and decide how to prepare it. Any dish that’s created is paired with its own accompaniments,” Chef Carl notes.
“In-between courses we provide a warm towel and lemon so guests can freshen up. We think it’s a nice touch, especially after someone has had items from the raw bar. We care for our guests and want them to have a wonderful experience,” Salvatore adds.
Gibraltar offers a children’s menu with items such as soft tacos, crisp chicken tenders, a little Angus burger with fries and spaghetti with marinara sauce.
Dessert offerings include a cheese board, lemon mascarpone cake, vanilla bean crème brulée and tableside flambé items. “We began offering tableside flambés earlier this year. We can do things like crepes Suzette and bananas flambé,” Chef Carl explains.
Gibraltar has a wide selection of spirits, cocktails and wine by the glass or bottle. “Our specialty cocktails and wine-by-the-glass selections change seasonally and our servers are trained not only on menu offerings but also on wine pairings and beverage offerings,” Salvatore explains, noting that Gibraltar’s wine-by-the-glass pour is six ounces.
Although Gibraltar is usually closed Sundays, the restaurant will be open from 1 to 6 p.m. for Mother’s Day, May 14. Chef Carl will be creating a menu with featured specials for the occasion.
Gibraltar is located at 488 Royer Drive in Lancaster. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 4:45-9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 4:45-10 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday. Reservations are required and may be made online via a link on the website or by calling the restaurant at 717-397-2790. For additional information, visit gibraltargrille.com, Facebook and Instagram.