Server Johnny Parziale displays Tina’s spring mix salad, which includes walnuts, apples and Gorgonzola cheese in homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

Tina’s owner Ed Abouelela holds a Brooklyn-style pizza while Hamilton resident Mark Souders enjoys lunch in the background Nov. 20, 2013.

Tina’s Italian Restaurant offers gourmet dishes for diners on a budget in Hamilton

By Lisa Zola-DeLibero

For Ed Abouelela, owner of Tina’s Italian Restaurant and Bagel Factory, the most important thing is that customers enjoy a delicious meal at his restaurant without breaking the bank.

Tina’s, located at 1470 S. Olden Ave. in Hamilton, was once known as “the place with all of the clown pictures on the wall.” Abouelela, after buying the business last January, has redecorated, and there is not a trace of the circus stars anywhere on the walls.

Instead, pictures of life in the city, waterscapes and nature scenes add an ambiance of city chic and nature at its best, while customers eat fresh meals prepared daily by Chef George Campos, who came in with Abouelela at the start of the business venture.

“George makes the best soups around,” Abouelela said. He said the staff, especially waitress Tina Migliaccio, enjoy seeing customers leave with smiles on their faces.

Abouelela said his vision for Tina’s is fine dining at a very low cost. He believes Tina’s offers meals comparable to those customers can get at much pricier venues.

Many dishes are priced between $7 and $12, with Early Bird specials available daily from 11 to 6 consisting of an entrée, two vegetables, soup or salad and dessert, often for less than $10.

“The portions are very generous and delicious,” Abouelela said.

Abouelela came to the United States in 1984, after he graduated from university in Egypt with a degree in math and education. He was offered a job to be a teacher, but loved the restaurant industry. He took a job at the Golden Dawn, where he bused tables for many years before becoming a waiter.

He started up a pizza shop in Willingboro, and enjoyed it. A year ago, he saw the opportunity to buy Tina’s, and did so. He said he wants to be able to pay for his son Waleed’s college education at Rutgers University, and when his daughter Rhonda and son Rommey graduate from Nottingham High School, he wants to be able to pay for their college educations as well.

With years of experience under his belt, Abouelela knew that fresh food cooked daily would bring customers to Tina’s. Regulars come in for date nights, anniversaries, birthdays or just a meal, he said.

Favorite dishes include the popular Tina’s sampler, which is a variety of all kinds of appetizers; New England clam chowder; and baked meatloaf. Tina’s, which has a BYOB policy, also serves seafood dishes, sandwiches, chicken, veal and steaks, panini, subs with additions like mushrooms, peppers, onions, bacon, cheese sauce, hot peppers and tomatoes, salads, gourmet burgers, wings, pizzas, and a Brooklyn pie that “Chef Marvin makes better than anyone in town.”

And that’s only the half of it. Tina’s may be best known for their bagels and breakfasts, especially the Triple Play, which consists of two eggs, two pancakes and a choice of bacon, ham or sausage. Breakfast sandwiches are very popular, too.

“Our customers absolutely love our bagel, egg and cheese sandwiches with a fresh cup of New England coffee, “ Abouelela said. He also said the pork roll sandwich, which features Case’s meat, is “better than delicious.”

Tina’s has also hosted sports functions for local schools on premises, and has offered discount takeout food for large school celebrations, such as the Hamilton West and Nottingham football Homecoming games. Tina’s also offers off-premises catering for special business events and family holidays.

Tina’s is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Phone: (609) 890-1446 or (609) 890-9090.