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Upper Bucks Living Magazine

January 2009 

The Perk: A Neighborhood Eatery That Feels Like Home

By Alina Makhnovetsky 

If you always wanted to go where everybody knows your name, The Perk just might be the place, with Larry Nacarella as your host. Nacarella is also the man who has spent more than a decade ensuring The Perkasie Hotel would be the Cheers equivalent of its namesake borough of Bucks County. Today, with its nostalgic interior—a nod to Perkasie’s past as a major league baseball manufacturer—an expansion of what was already a colossal menu and virtually the same prices since the late 80’s, it simply is. 

It was Larry’s father, George Nacarella, who in 1975 bought the historic and at the time dilapidated property at a backyard auction, envisioning a neighborhood pub. Ten years later, George handed over the keys to his son and The Perk, beginning its culinary focus, transitioned from a mere pub to an eatery, with an addition of a new dining area and a remodeled kitchen. “When dad had it, it was more of a taproom, then dad gave me the opportunity to add,” said Larry Nacarella. 

Nacarella invited local chefs and along with them, created a habitual pub style menu, embracing the usual bar fare, while also adding higher end entrées, at conscientiously friendly prices. In the last four years, with Dan Wenger as the head chef, the menu has transcended the expectations once again with the variety and quality of products offered. From Roasted Maple Glazed Salmon to Orecchiette Pasta served with Sweet Sausage and Broccoli Rabe, the menu often boasts extraordinary selections that keep customers coming back several times a week, year after year. 

“I like to give the chef the opportunity to be creative and add things to give more of a choice to the people who come in two to three times a week, the constant change and additions also keeps us creative,” suggested Nacarella. Many of the items Wenger initially introduced as specials have been so well received, they now found a permanent spot on the menu. “We had a goal to be the best neighborhood eatery in the community and now we have become it,” chirped Nacarella.

Like its menu, the reflective décor of the restaurant, also casts a seductive spell over Perkasie locals. “Our customers have spotted their grandparents on our walls,” exclaimed Nacarella. The Perk is decorated with a plethora of baseball memorabilia and old black and white team photos of Perkasie baseball leagues. Other trinkets from years past also blanket the dining area with comforting warmth. The loyal patrons, many of whom grew to count on Nacarella and freely let him know which entrée specials they enjoyed the most, are also largely responsible for the home-like feel the eatery infuses. When most walk in, they are greeted by their friends and neighbors and before settling in for their own meal, spend time shuffling back and forth between The Perk’s two dining rooms, exchanging hellos. 

“We are always changing and trying to make The Perk even better,” said Nacarella. “Our commitment is to keep the quality and keep the prices reasonable, especially now with the bleak economy,” he concluded. Surprisingly, Nacarella’s concern is not towards his business, but his devout regulars, who have gotten so used to visiting the restaurant several times a week. For them, Nacarella has fashioned a place away from home. Luckily, this family setting always has room for fresh faces, which after a hefty sampling, are sure to become familiar ones. 

The Perk is located at 501 E. Walnut Street. For more information, visit or call (215) 257-8483. 

Alina Makhnovetsky is a freelance writer and lives in Philadelphia, PA.

Happy At The Perk

The Perk, on the corner of Walnut and Main Streets in Perkasie, is a hot-spot to the Sellersville/Perkasie/Hilltown crowd. Built in 1854 as a hotel, the sports posters and photos around the restaurant let diners see into the past of Perkasie. From a baseball manufacturing company to old sports jerseys to photos of Perkasie as no one today could remember, the Perk is proud of its and the town’s history.

On any given night you’ll witness the awkward first dates, the romantic anniversaries, and everything in between. It seems that almost everyone here is a regular. Depending on the night, the atmosphere can be quiet and subdued or loud and boisterous.

In the last two and a half years, I’ve visited the Perk too many times to count. I’ve yet to have a “bad” experience dining there. I have my usuals: Raspberry Chicken Salad, French Onion Soup, Bourbon Chicken Sandwich, Fries with Old Bay seasoning, and Perk Pierogies. The rib eye steak special was a meal worth its weight in gold. For Bucks County Taste, though, I wanted to stray from my norm. The best way to do that, of course, is the specials of the day.

I chose the Scallop Capellini with French Onion Soup and a glass of Avia Pinot Grigio. I’m a huge fan of the soup, which the Perk serves slightly cloudy with huge croutons and not as much salt as most onion soups out there. Going easy on the salt really allows the onion and beef flavors to come through. After the soup, I was completely content – until the next course came into view: a pasta bowl brimming with fresh scallops and corn with a light corn-cream sauce and chunks of tender pork belly, all atop a healthy serving of angel hair pasta and garnished with sliced scallions.

It was difficult to hold off on tasting while I took pictures. I managed to through 30 seconds of photography, then dug into the scallops, which were neither overcooked nor overseasoned. But while the scallops were supposed to be the main attraction, what really made this dish was the corn. Sweet corn right off the cob, delicately cooked so that it was still crisp.

Corn husks and cobs were used to flavor the sauce. I’m not a fan of overly thick cream sauces (like Alfredo), but this sauce was delightful. Light, sweet, buttery, with a slight saltiness from the pork belly. And, may I mention the pasta was perfectly cooked? Overdone pasta just kills a place for me. If you can’t properly cook pasta, how can you possibly cook anything else? None of those worries here.

While never hungry or let down after a meal at the Perk, straying from my usuals paid off.

For those looking for a place with modest prices, great food and easy conversation, the Perk’s worth a visit. The best time to go is Sunday, Monday, Wednesday or Thursday evenings, or Friday and Saturday for lunch. For the crowd looking for excitement, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights are the time to go. Reservations aren’t accepted Friday or Saturday nights, but you can call in to inquire about wait times.

News Herald

October 2009

Hometown son makes it big in a hometown eatery

By Brendan Purves

Associate Editor

The Perk has been serving up hometown favorites since 1854. Today those favorites are being prepared by a hometown chef using a lot of hometown ingredients.

Executive Chef Dan Wenger, 30, Perkasie, has returned home to Perkasie and has used his love of the culinary arts and local ingredients to make The Perk the perfect place to get the taste of home and homegrown.

“I always like to keep it fresh, always seasonal, and always keep it local,” Wenger said.

Wenger, who has been at The Perk for the last five years and the executive chef for four, said, depending on the season, he gets about 90 percent of his produce from Blooming Glen Farm in Perkasie, and that he tries to get as much of his meat as he can locally.

“We’re a local eatery with a local theme and feel and atmosphere, and it just really fits us well,” owner and general manager Larry Nacarella said about using local produce and meat.

Using these local foods gives Wenger the ability to have an ever-changing menu based on the season. Right now he said he is using a lot of squash and sweet potato to create fall favorites for The Perk regulars.

“His passion and his talent is really coming through,” Nacarella said about his restaurant’s seasonal specials.

Although Wenger is now passionate about his craft and has come home to showcase his talents, 10 years ago he was just like so many other Pennridge graduates trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life.

“I kind of got into it by accident,” Wenger said about getting involved in cooking. “I was kind of a jock in high school. I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”

Wenger said that while at Bloomsburg University he was working as a dishwasher to make some extra cash. During one of his shifts, a cook did not show up for work, the chef called his number, and the rest is history.

From that point forward Wenger did his best to learn about cooking in any way that he could.

“I’m a cookbook junkie,” Wenger said about his thirst for cooking and food knowledge.

But he does not do all of his learning with his nose in a book. Wenger pulls information from wherever he can to help him in the kitchen.

“Pretty much everyday is a learning experience,” Wenger said. “You can learn from everyone.”

A lot of Wenger’s skills are self taught and come from his experiences cooking for himself over the years.

“I was vegan for a long time, and that taught me a lot about cooking, because I was always trying to find something I could eat,” Wenger said.

Wenger also likes to continue the learning process by exploring, toying with and incorporating different ingredients and cooking styles used across the country and across the globe.

“We take little bits from everything,” Wenger said. “We’re always taking things from other countries and other regions.”

Wenger is able to explore his inventive side because of the confidence Nacarello has in him and the rest of his cooking staff.

“We have a ton of creative freedom,” Wenger said. “He’s very supportive.”

This support and creative freedom has trickled from Narcarello down to Wenger, who says he does not run his kitchen like some of the chefs that you can see screaming and yelling on television.

“People know where they stand with me,” Wenger said. “I try to keep a level head.”

In addition to keeping it cool in the kitchen, Wenger makes sure that the rest of his staff knows that they are all part of a team.

“I’m working side by side with the guys,” Wenger said. “When I come here we all have that line-cook attitude. I will do any job in the kitchen. We’re all in this together.”

For all of these reasons, Wenger has been a great fit as the executive chef of The Perk, but there is a difference between being good and being good and part of the community.

“It’s exciting,” Nacarella said about having a hometown chef. “Because that’s truly what we’re all about. He fits The Perk like a glove.”

Nacarella said that when Wenger was in high school he used to come in on cheesesteak Tuesday nights, and just like so many Pennridge graduates have done, after a few years of living out in the world, he has come back to his home town and now helps make those same sandwiches.

“It says a lot for this place,” Wenger said about The Perk being a favorite hangout for people returning to the area where they grew up. “When people go away, and come back, this is where they go to eat.”


Channel 69 News "Local Flavor"

October 2009

Check out the video of The Perk featured on WFMZ CHannel 69 News Local Flavor by clicking on the link below

2009 Reader's Choice Awards

"Best Business Lunch"

"Best Place to Meet People"

2008 Reader's Choice Awards

"Best Business Lunch"

2007 Reader's Choice Awards

"Best Burger"

"Best Cheesesteak"

"Best Family Dining"

"Best Pub/Bar"

1999 Best of Bux Mont

"Best Burger"

"Best Crabcakes"