Rhyno Café & Gourmet Pizza might look like a pizza place. It might smell like a pizza place. It’s even housed in a former pizza place. But whatever you do, don’t just call it a pizza place.
“We do so much more than just pizza,” said co-owner and chef Marcell Cleinow. “We want people to know that we’re different.”
Rhyno Café opened just over a year ago on William Penn Highway across the street from Walgreen’s near the intersection of William Penn and 25th Street. The restaurant celebrated its one-year anniversary on Sept. 15.
Cleinow has been a chef for more than 25 years, working in country clubs and restaurants in the Lehigh Valley area. He and co-owner Beverly Powell decided a couple of years ago that it was high time to open a place of their own.
Rhyno Café has all the appeal of a hometown pizzeria, with a few twists on the décor--like hardwood wainscoting and its signature Rhyno mural--and more than a few unique spins on cuisine.
Take the gourmet pizza, for example. Some of the menu specialties include shrimp and pesto pizza, barbecue chicken pizza and chicken fajita pizza. But Cleinow has taken it further.
“I’ve put smoked duck on pizza, I’ve done pear and brie… it changes as the whim comes,” Cleinow said.
His influences, which he cites as Southwest and American-fusion as well as his fondness of experimentation, show in the café’s changing specials, which currently encompass dishes like the crab cake sandwich and smoked-chicken quesadilla.
Wings are a popular pick at Rhyno Café. The chef uses panko, a light, flaky Japanese style of breadcrumbs, to coat his wings, and serves all sauces on the side so they stay crispy.
“There’s nothing worse than soggy wings,” Cleinow said.
Rhyno Café makes all of its dressings and sauces in-house, and uses only high-end cheeses. Cleinow is proud to say that nothing comes out of a can. Yet the price range doesn’t reflect it--you can expect to spend $10 to $20 per person for a full meal.
Rhyno Café also has a catering side, which the proprietors have been trying to emphasize in recent months. But here’s the catch: They don’t have a catering menu.
When Cleinow accepts a catering client, he says, “Just tell me what you want.”
“I’ve done sit-down dinners for 400 people,” he said, referring to his work as a sous chef for Saucon Valley Country Club. “It’s not just about a menu. We can do anything.”
Rhyno Café & Gourmet Pizza is at 2600 William Penn Highway. It is open Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and weekends, noon to 9 p.m. The café offers delivery to the Easton area and is a BYOB establishment.
And a fun fact, for anyone curious: The café’s namesake comes from the rhyming nickname “Cleinow the Rhyno,” given to the chef at a former restaurant. Keep that in mind when you visit so you can request the chef by name.