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CPW's offers top-notch food in a welcoming space

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CPW's lasagna.

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Christina Ruotolo

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Some of the best restaurants in any given city can be found tucked away in strip malls on the outskirts of town. Well I have one that’s a real gem in the food scene, CPW’s Fine Food & Spirits, 2422 Stantonsburg Road in the Stanton Square shopping center. This casual, inviting restaurant/hangout offers guests Italian-American food as well as a rotating themed menu to keep you coming back for more. There are 12 beers on tap, a full-service bar and an extensive wine list.

Open since 1995, CPW’s continues to provide Greenville residents with top-notch food in a welcoming space that revolves around an open-air kitchen where you can watch all the action happening as chefs saute, grill and plate your meal.

Co-owner Ralph Walton has been heading up CPW’s, along with Todd McGregor, since it opened. He wants to welcome you to an Italian-American restaurant that is upbeat yet casual, where you are guaranteed a great meal with stellar service.

“We tried to create an atmosphere that is trendy and fun, yet authentic, where we serve you tasty home-cooked food with rotating themes and flavors to match your evolving tastes,” Walton says.

He says when kitchen staff members prepare a new entree, he has them ask themselves, “Would you serve this to your mom?” That is the key to their fan-favorite dishes that have been around for years, including CPW’s most popular Carolina Cajun Pasta. It’s a trio of red, yellow and green peppers, blackened and grilled chicken over penne pasta nestled in a slightly spicy Cajun cream sauce.

CPW’s is known for its flavorful pastas, pizzas, appetizers, sandwiches, salad, soups and artfully paired entrees that mix styles and flavors. It offers a diverse menu with prices ranging from $7.95-$16.95. Choose from classic dishes like Fettuccine Alfredo or Pasta Primavera, crowd favorites like the heavenly crab cakes or Cast Iron meatballs or a tasty Crawfish Po-Boy or Philly Dip. For pasta and pizza lovers, feast your eyes on Spaghetti Bolognese or a stuffed-to-the-brim calzone or stromboli. Or maybe order a “pizzzza” pie. There are so many options to delight your palate.

Let’s begin with the very best, the classic lasagna.Lasagna is one of those dishes that when done right can change your whole outlook on life. All it takes is ricotta cheese, a seasoned meat sauce, marinara sauce and plenty of cheese. But what makes it sing is the combination of all of these together. CPW’s has nailed this one-pound wonder. It has hearty layers of robust and savory flavors all topped with dreamy layers of cheese, baked in the oven and served with the perfect cheesy crust top. Dig in and you won’t be able to stop until the plate is clean. Pair this dish with a glass of Sartori Valpolicella dry Italian red wine with its rich fruit notes, and you will think you’re in Rome.

Next, I sampled some of CPW’s favorite past dishes, starting with the Seafood Diablo Pasta. It’s made with pearly perfect baby scallops, fat, juicy, seasoned shrimp and briny mussels in their shells with al dente linguine tossed in a spicy marinara sauce. The sauce was light and fragrant allowing the natural flavor of the tender seafood to be front and center. Delicious!

Then I moved on to the Jambalaya Pasta. This one packs a Cajun-inspired flavor punch with jumbo shrimp, sliced chicken, andouille sausage and trinity vegetables, which is a combination of celery, peppers and onions and a staple of French, Creole and Cajun cooking. All that goodness is tossed in low-country cream sauce. This was a perfect creole kick.

Let’s end this tasting with a signature sandwich, the CPW’s focaccia sandwich. Pizza dough is adapted to a thin, crispy sandwich style filled with ham, turkey, cheese, mixed greens, sliced tomato and red onion, then drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette. You get a great crunch and flavor from the pizza bread along with the bright veggies, tangy cheese and flavorful meats. A perfect choice for a light yet filling dinner or lunch option.

Speaking of lunch, you can enjoy a sit-down meal Monday-Friday and choose from delicious lunch specials for $10.95 that are sure to keep you full, focused and satisfied. On Monday, enjoy a meatball or Italian sausage grinder or a fish and chips basket with fries; Tuesday, a lasagna turkey club wrap is offered; Wednesday is a cheeseburger LTO and fries or a chicken tender basket with fries; on Thursday feast your eyes on a chicken Parmesan shrimp basket with fries; and on Friday, homemade salmon cakes and Caesar salad, or a pick-three trio combination. Oven-baked Italian classics, lunch combos and salads also are offered. All are served with fresh baked bread and sweet butter. You can add a simple green salad for $1.49.

CPW’s features jazz and blues from local artists the first and third Thursday of every month, or stop by for Theme Night every Thursday and enjoy live music that starts at 6:30 p.m. with no cover and a rotating specialty menu. During September, the Thursday theme menu is “Cruising the Caribbean.” Try Kuyaba dip made with lump crab meat, spicy chili and coconut milk, or the Jerk Pie pizza topped with pineapple, baby oranges, ham, and jerk chicken.

CPW’s is available for catering as well. There is an extensive catering menu and knowledgeable staff will help you plan your event from first bite to last sip.

Hours are from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays, 4-11 p.m. Saturdays and 4-10 p.m. Sundays. Starting in October and running through the end of May, CPW’s will be open for lunch on Sundays starting at noon and will offer a brunch-style menu. For more information, visit www.cpws.biz or call 757-7756.

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