Thanks to the new OneCard, off-campus eating has become more popular among students. Swatties now have the opportunity to assert, even on a weekday, that they are more than just students. They are diners, foodies, restaurant-goers, and more. Sitting down and eating at a restaurant provides a sense of independence that the dining hall experience does not. Being able to pick food off of a menu and have it brought to you is an experience that turns students into customers in control of their edible destinies. Walking off campus for a meal allows a students to claim freedom, even if only temporarily, from Sharples dining and seek the eating experiences they’re looking for. The options in the Ville offer a variety of food, and this week, I ate at Aria, which offers Mediterranean cuisine.
The experience at Aria is one that is incredibly convenient for students. On a weekday, the restaurant is able to seat students immediately after they order, and the food comes out quickly enough that one could grab a bite there and get back to campus in time for an afternoon class. The efficiency of Aria is what makes it so convenient. At lunchtime, patrons order at the front of the restaurant and seat themselves. Meals come out within just a few minutes of ordering, and OneCards are swiped at the end of the meal. The restaurant itself is just casual enough for quick student dining, while still holding on to the real restaurant experience. The restaurant’s relaxing ambiance stems from the minimal decorations and a wall mirror that makes the room seem larger and brighter. Natural light flows in from the outside and gives the restaurant a relaxing atmosphere after or before a stressful day of classes. A bigger adjacent dining room allows Aria to seat more diners during busier hours. The casual setting and the convenience of the dining experience makes Aria a perfect place for students to be more than students.
Aria, of course, is more than its ambiance or its dining room. What makes Aria special is its food. The menu names of a number of dishes, such as potato pancakes, babaganoush, gyros, and kabobs. The hummus is smooth and well seasoned, served with well-complementing pita bread. Its flavors are bold and tantalizing, which makes for a hearty and delicious appetizer. The hummus to pita ratio was nearly perfect while still allowing for a sizeable portion of hummus to go on each slice of the pita bread. Aria’s hummus transforms average garbanzo beans into a delicious concoction whose flavors both surprise and satisfy.
Of course, no meal is complete with just an appetizer. The chicken gyro comes out warm and overflowing with seasoned chicken, tomatoes, lettuce, and a zesty sauce that comes together for a meal like no other. The gyro is filling, and the grilled chicken inside is tasty and well-cooked. The flavors intermingle with each other and challenge the taste buds to pick up on the different elements. The vegetables within the gyro provide both taste and texture that contrast with the meat, as well as the warm bread surrounding the other ingredients. Not ideal for messy eaters, the gyro lost some of its smaller ingredients as the meal progressed. The gyro at Aria is an item that exceeds expectations in terms of its flavors and provides hearty sustenance for even the hungriest of diners. Aria’s food is tasty and flavorful — even their fries have a unique kick to them. Aria’s menu overall is guaranteed to have multidimensional flavors and spicy overtones that makes their food delectable. The menu’s prices are reasonable and offer a wide variety of choices for those who will be staying at Swarthmore for fall break coming up this week.
The Aria experience is great for those looking for flavorful food on the meal plan. Its menu items are tasty and ready quickly, and the casual dining space makes it the perfect space for a quick lunch between classes or an evening study break. The food is uniquely equipped to deliver an eating experience that is both convenient and worth savoring. A trip to Aria is worth more than an hour of a Swattie’s limited free time, and it is definitely a more than a worthy replacement to a Sharples meal once in awhile. Aria provides all of the standard elements of a good meal: delicious appetizers, a filling and flavorful main dish, as well as the convenience factor required by busy Swarthmore students. This addition to the meal plan is both exceptionally tasty, as well as reasonable priced and incredibly timely for those on a tight schedule.