Friday, February 21, 2014

Top 5 Places to Visit in a Cozy Town with Shelley Costa

Top Five Places to Visit in Quaker Hills, PA, by head chef Eve Angelotta from You Cannoli Die Once by Shelley Costa

Benvenuto! Welcome to Quaker Hills, PA. You are about forty minutes north of Philadelphia in scenic Bucks County. I’m Eve Angelotta, head chef at Miracolo Italian Restaurant in Market Square, the central commercial district. If you come to Quaker Hills for the antiques or the natural beauty or the history, stay for dinner at our place – where, inside, you’ll find antiques, beauty, and history of a different sort , if you just overlook the occasional murder. Here are five notable places in and around Quaker Hills you really have to check out:

Miracolo Italian Restaurant – Do you have a favorite place where you can count on good food, good music, good company, and just average entertainment you’re willing to overlook because of the rest? That’s my Miracolo, the Italian Restaurant in Quaker Hills that’s been driving us Angelottas for three generations. We’re no dime-a-dozen pizza joint, not us. White linen tablecloths, fine wine, and strictly northern Italian regional cooking whipped up by my cousins Landon, Choo Choo, and me. Our nonna, Maria Pia Angelotta, owns the restaurant, which pretty much means two things: (1) she gets to swan around dramatically on a daily basis, and (2) we must never, but never, serve cannoli. Poor cannoli! It was born Sicilian. . .

Eve’s tiny house – Some people like to “live large.” Not me. I’ve got a Tumbleweed Tiny House, a whopping 130 square feet of living space. It sits demurely on a utility trailer on a little patch of land just outside of town. I love my sleek built-ins, my sleeping loft, my tin roof, and the fact that I can hardly cook in it! (I save all the kitchen magic for long hours at Miracolo.) In nice weather, my idea of gracious living includes a pot of colorful geraniums and a butterfly chair on my 2’x2’ “porch.” I wanted a place small enough for my nonna, Maria Pia, to avoid it. (True peace.) And I was right: the one time she came over to check it out, she declared it would be the perfect place to store a lawnmower, not a human.

Flowers by Beck – The chief attraction in the florist shop three doors up from the restaurant is not the lavender roses, and not the ikebana classes run by florist James Beck. No, if I have to be honest about it, the chief attraction is the florist’s brother, Joe, a local lawyer who proves maddeningly helpful when my nonna is arrested for murder. When James is off at a flower show, and Joe’s got a handle on local crime, he pinch hits at the shop. If you can pass up the glorious blooms in the cooler and go all the way into the back of the shop, the Becks’ private space is a great place to kick back , sort through clues to a murder, and down some really lovely orange ginger mint tea.

Jolly’s Pub – The inscrutable Reginald Jolly, a transplanted Brit, owns the only pub on Market Square – directly across from the restaurant. I think of him as the anti-Maria Pia. He’s as reserved as she is generally Out There, and they wisely keep their distance from each other. If you walk into Jolly’s, don’t expect to find a line of flat-screen TVs – you’ll just have to, well, converse – but the dapper Reginald does have quite a fine selection of single malts. Not to mention romantic lighting.

Providence Park – Smack dab in the middle of Market Square, our Quaker Hills commercial district, is this pretty little park. It’s a great spot for hanging out with the kids on the playground or wearing yourself out doing the Stay Fit Challenge course. Or you might manage an audience with Akahana, our wandering bag lady (or. . .is she?). Check the slide – she’s there most evenings, pondering the nature of the universe. For me, the park is a pretty cut-through whenever I need to get from Miracolo to the other side of Market Square, where I might want to brood over murder clues at Jolly’s Pub, or improve my deductive skills by buying myself something gorgeous at Airplane Hangers, my favorite boutique. To listen to my friend Dana Cahill, who sings for free nightly at our restaurant, this little city acre of Providence Park is a treasured “green space.” Dana’s colossally wrong on most things, but about Providence Park, I believe she might very well be right.

You Cannoli Die Once is nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel.

You Cannoli Die Once and Basil Instinct, both published by Simon and Schuster Pocket Books, are available at online and retail booksellers. Although Basil Instinct, the second book in the series, will be released later in June, it’s available for pre-order.


  1. That sounds like a lovely place to visit. Only I would go nuts in a house that small, where would I keep all my books?

  2. Fun post! The house sounds cozy, but I agree with Aurian...I'd need somewhere for all my books!! I'd miss having physical books all around.



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