What do 1 million pounds of lasagna, being voted the No. 1 restaurant in Chester County for the past 20 years, and Exton have in common? Why, it’s the delicious dining experience of Rino’s (327 E Lincoln Highway).

In 2005, QVC held a contest calling for unique recipes throughout the country, and a QVC employee suggested Rino’s submit a recipe. Lance Shortt, the owner, submitted his signature seafood lasagna dish, a masterpiece which takes three hours to make. Lance wanted to mix up the tradition of seven fishes at an Italian Christmas, so he combined it with his grandmother’s lasagna recipe.

This sweet and bountiful meal has layers of shrimp puree, a blend of mozzarella and Romano cheeses, marinara sauces with chunks of plum tomatoes, lump crab meat, sea scallops and large shrimp, and is topped with a lobster blush sauce. He won the contest and sold 1 million pounds of lasagna within three years on QVC.

Each dish starts with the freshest possible ingredients, and Rino’s strives to use as many
homemade items as possible (even their noodles). The extensive menu includes more than 25 mouth-watering Italian dishes, 50 types of pizza, salads, burgers, stombolis, sandwiches, wraps, steaks and much more.

Rino’s offers something for everyone (including vegetarians and vegans), and most items are under $15 for generous portions of high-quality food. They carry 12 draft beers, more than 100 microbrews, and six packs to go. To cure a sweet tooth, there’s an array of delectable baked goods to nibble on, created by Lance’s mother, the pastry chef.

“There is enough food you could get something different every day of the week. Everything is homemade and that’s why people like it. It’s a great thing, like a family here,” said Rino’s host Robert Nyeko.

At Rino’s, it’s all about family, and it has been a family-owned and run business since 1986. Many of the dishes are based on family recipes, and the owner, Lance Shortt, spent a large portion of his childhood by his grandmother’s side as she cooked family dinners. Servers are encouraged to treat customers like family, and often hold coloring contests for the kids. Ten percent of Rino’s profits get donated back to the community, and pennants from local sports teams line the walls.

Shortt didn’t give up after an electrical fire burned down his entire restaurant in 1994. Devastated customers showed up the next day and offered to pitch in. Within six months, staff members and customers completely rebuilt the place.

During the renovation, Shortt started his own catering company, Samantha-Julian Caterers (named after his kids). Their comfortable facility seats 185 people and is perfect for your next function. Full service, delivery or pick-up is available for off-premise catering. Lance takes care of all the catering jobs, so call 610-363-0515 or visit www.samanthajuliancaterers.com to learn more.

Lance’s next venture is a stunning bed and breakfast called White Wing Farm, nestled along the rolling hills of West Chester. Good things have certainly been the case for Rino’s, which is now considered a staple in the area. Stop by between 11 a.m. and midnight any day of the week for an unforgettable dining experience.