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Best of the Main Line & Western Suburbs 2009

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CRITICS PICKS
Food & Drink
Shopping & Service
Health & Beauty
Media, Sports, Culture, Trends, Etc.

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Food & Drink
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FEATURED PROFILES
Celeste Giuliano (Best Niche Photographer)
Bam Margera, of The Note (Place to Rub Shoulders with Rock Stars & Bam Margera)
Todd S. Chusid, of Johnnie’s Dog House (Best Local Treat Gone National)
Vince & Lou Durso, of Vince’s Barber Shop (Barber Shop & Recording Studio in One)
Justsnarky (Best Local Blog)
 

Food & Drink (Critics) on page 2 …
 

Food & Drink (Critics)


Al Fresco Dining: Brodeur’s on State Street
When the sun is shining, the outdoor tables at Brodeur’s are the best seats in the house. If you want to see and be seen, choose one on the restaurant’s front patio, where you have a front-row view of all the action in downtown Media. Or, if you prefer a meal in a more private setting, try the quaint dining area off to the side. 1 W. State St., Media, (610) 566-5515, brodeursonstatestreet.com

Al Fresco Dining in Philadelphia: 1225 RAW Sushi & Sake Lounge
Along with a flashy assortment of nigiri, maki and sake, RAW serves up some of the hottest seats in town on its outdoor courtyard. Brick walls, black wooden trellises, and sleek upholstered chairs and stools add swankiness to this hip yet relaxed sushi spot. 1225 Sansom St., Philadelphia, (215) 238-1903, rawlounge.net

Al Fresco Lunch: Susanna Foo Gourmet Kitchen
Potted trees, a towering brick wall adorned with festive strings of lights, and the soothing sound of running water make Susanna Foo’s twin patios a delightful midday retreat. For a light but robust lunch, try the grilled Vietnamese seafood salad, with jumbo lump crab meat, grilled prawns, calamari and avocado; or the spicy salmon and tuna maki with a side of damame. 555 E. Lancaster Ave., Radnor; (610) 688-8808, susannafoo.com

Appetizers: Brickside Grille
Brickside’s knockout appetizers set the pace for the great meal to come. Actually, their nachos—a pile of crisp tortilla chips in rainbow colors, served with refried beans, pepper Jack cheese and homemade salsa—are a meal in themselves. Drunken littleneck clams and Prince Edward Island mussels bring a taste of the sea, while a pronounced Asian flair is evident in the crunchy crab cakes and mini chicken egg rolls. Eagleview Town Center, 540 Wellington Square, Exton,  (610) 321-1600, bricksidegrille.com

Bakery: Sweet Potato Café & Bakery
Sweet Potato’s Jeff and Virginia Deal make everything from scratch, trimming the fat and the bad stuff from customers’ diets. Nothing is frozen, canned or artificial, so you can feel pretty good about downing one of their oversized muffins or sticky buns. 21 W. State St., Media, (610) 566-6791

Carmine's crab meat and smoked gouda tart with crab claws and Creole coulis (Photo by Steve Legato)Baklava: The Mediterranean
Once it hits the table, it’s a goner. But savoring the Mediterranean’s home-baked Lebanese baklava is a must. The moist, sticky honey, apple (in summer), chopped walnuts, pine nuts and pistachios cut through the flaky, sweet phyllo dough with just one intention: to turn off your mind and turn on the taste buds. Double your pleasure and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 150 W. Gay St., West Chester, (610) 431-7074

Bar Noshes: Carmine’s Creole Café & Blues Bar
Regulars can’t get enough of the crawfish spring rolls—moist, sweet bites tucked into a crispy, crunchy wonton wrapper and served with a light soy-based dipping sauce. Also irresistible are the tapas-size portions of étoufée and jambalaya, and sweet potato fries. 818 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 520-9100, carminescafeonline.com

Bartender: James Kennedy at Teikoku Restaurant
Known for his creative cocktails, impressive manners and all-American good looks, Marple native James Kennedy knows how to have a good time. His infamous sake bomb shooter, signature St. James, strawberry sake mojito, Tang margarita and Ginger’s Pearadise cocktail will be sorely missed this summer when he heads to Europe for a month. But he’ll be back. 5492 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, (610) 644-8270, teikokurestaurant.com

James Kennedy of Teikoku Restaurant (Photo by Heidi Reuter)Beer Selection: Ron’s Original Bar & Grille
Ron’s is about as close to Lushville as it gets—in a good way. The next time you’re having a bad day, point your compass west and drown your sorrows in any one of their 20 microbrews on tap, or 60-100 different bottles. If that doesn’t do the trick, you can always dive into a flight of scotch, vodka or tequila. Or take home a customized six-pack. 74 E. Uwchlan Ave., Exton, (610) 594-9900, ronsoriginal.com

Brand Extension: Alison two
A bigger, bolder version of her original Alison at Blue Bell just minutes up the road, Alison Barshak’s second coming has plenty of bells and whistles, including wine lockers for regulars (even though there’s a full bar). But it’s the food here that counts—and Barshak’s kitchen delivers plenty of one-two punches while retaining the organic energy of its older BYO sibling. 424 S. Bethlehem Pike, Fort Washington, (215) 591-0200, alisontwo.com

Brunch: Georges’
Every Sunday at 11 a.m., Georges’ rolls out the culinary red carpet, stocking its buffet with artisan breads, assorted cheeses, croissants and mini-tarts baked in-house, plus made-to-order omelets and fluffy buttermilk pancakes. Lunch-type fare includes steamed salmon and prime rib au jus, with side dishes like baby bok choy and pasta. Chances are you won’t be hungry for dinner. 503 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 964-2588, georgesonthemainline.com

Burger: TJ’s Everyday Restaurant & Drinkery
At TJ’s Everyday, the spotlight frequently falls on a beer selection that stretches off into the horizon. But those brews serve as the perfect complement to the Paoli taproom’s hearty (and substantial) burgers. They’re available five ways and feature everything from a Cajun-seasoned patty to one with blue cheese, Rauchbier barbecue sauce, bacon and cheddar cheese reminiscent of a backyard cookout in heaven. 35 Paoli Plaza, Paoli, (610) 725-0100, tjseveryday.com

Butcher: Ivan Heebner Meats
Based in Kulpsville, Montgomery County, Heebner Meats’ traveling butcher shop is well stocked with beef, pork, veal and lamb. It’s been the go-to source for countless Main Line holiday gatherings, special occasions and summer barbecues. Lancaster County Farmers Market, 389 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 687-0307, lancastercountyfarmersmarket.com

BYO: Sovana Bistro
A French bistro with an Italian soul, Sovana has a farm-to-table mindset and respect for the land, and its kitchen operates on the premise that classic techniques never go out of style. Eclectic would be a fair assessment of the Mediterranean-inspired menu. Its signature pizzas are prepared in a gas-fired hearth that utilizes water-soaked wood chips—its distinct aroma pervades the restaurant. The tapas-style antipasto of the day weaves sweet-sour-salty tastes and a variety of textures into savory combinations. 696 Unionville Road, Suite 8, Kennett Square, (610) 444-5600, sovanabistro.com

BYO in Philadelphia: Little Fish
Over the past year, Little Fish chef/owner Mike Stollenwerk’s straightforward, expertly prepared seafood dishes have earned accolades from the likes of Bon Appétit. Culinary highlights include skate with spinach spaetzle, pancetta vinaigrette and toasted breadcrumbs; and Loch Duart salmon with ramps, Yukon gold potatoes, and poached egg vinaigrette. And at $28 per person, the Sunday five-course prix-fixe special is one of the best deals in town. 600 Catherine St., Philadelphia, (215) 413-3464, littlefishphilly.com

BYO Mexican Restaurant: La Tolteca
There’s nothing nouveau or trendy about La Tolteca’s no-nonsense Mexican cuisine. Just hefty portions at reasonable prices, fresh ingredients, traditional sauces with bite and character, and an easygoing staff that couldn’t be more accommodating. Bring your own bottle of tequila, and they’ll even provide the margarita mix—and remember to eat. May we suggest one of the luscious enchilada combos or, if you’re really hungry, the carnitas—tender hunks of pork perfect for piling into a warm, homemade flour tortilla. 907 High St., West Chester, (610) 429-8101

Cajun-Creole Cuisine: High Street Caffé
When it comes to bringing the flavors of NOLA to the Main Line, nobody does it better than West Chester’s High Street Caffé. Whether you’re going for the honest-to-God jambalaya, the blackened crab cakes or the andouille-laden Cajun linguini—not to mention the exotics like alligator and bison—you’ll leave with your palate entertained and your spirits raised. 322 S. High St., West Chester, (610) 696-7435, highstreetcaffe.com

Cheesesteaks: Pie in the Sky Restaurant
A cheesesteak done right: finely chopped meat and onions, diced fresh and fried to perfection—all held together by a velvety-perfect layer of melted cheese. Thanks to the soft (but never soggy) roll, every bites finds the steamy, mouthwatering center. And Pie in the Sky subtly shows off its expertise by wrapping all takeout steaks in foil—a too-often-dismissed gesture. 102 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 293-1390, pieintheskyofwayne.com

Sola chef David Clouser (Photo by Steve Legato)Chef: Sola’s David Clouser
It’s year three in the reincarnated life of Bryn Mawr’s Sola, and chef/partner David Clouser is busting out like a perennial garden at full tilt. His seasonally inspired cuisine supports local farmers, and his sophisticated palate brings us all kinds of delectable dishes—like espresso-braised short ribs and wild Tasmanian salmon. 614 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 526-0123, solabyob.com

Chef Dinners: The Café at Terrain at Styer’s
One Thursday a month, chef David Berg breaks from the routine with a decadent chef’s dinner that typically runs $45 a person and features seasonal, eclectic combinations of locally grown vegetables, sustainable fish, all-natural meats and intoxicating desserts. 914 Baltimore Pike, Glen Mills, (610) 459-2400, terrainathome.com

Chicken Salad: Elegance Bakery & Café

Easy on the mayo and heavy on freshness, Elegance Bakery & Café mingles hearty chunks of home-baked chicken breast with a myriad of ingredients, from pecans, celery, grapes and apples, to spinach, bowtie pasta, artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes. Sandwich the contents between Elegance’s homemade bread and rolls, and you’ll be lamenting your last bite. 82 E. Lancaster Ave., Paoli, (610) 640-0404, elegancecafe.com
 

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Food & Drink (Critics)


Chinese: Yangming

Yangming has long been considered one of the area’s top Chinese restaurants, but that moniker doesn’t really do it justice. The restaurant’s talented chefs routinely turn out creative Asian fusion cuisine that is mouthwateringly delicious. Perfect for a lunchtime getaway, dinner or family banquets. 1051 Conestoga Road, Bryn Mawr, (610) 527-3200, yangmingrestaurant.com

Chips and Dip: 320 Market Café
Closer to guacamole, 320’s velvety thick pico de gallo is packed with chunks of meaty avocado, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno and lime. The chips come without salt, and they’re thick and ultra-crispy. While sublime, this pairing barely skims the surface of the tantalizingly delicious inventory awaiting you at this popular Swarthmore specialty market. 713 S. Chester Road, Swarthmore, (610) 328-7211, the320marketcafe.com

Closest Thing to Mother’s Milk: Yum & Bum Natural Baby Market

More than a store, Yum and Bum is a state of mind—and a brilliant business concept. Its patrons are more than just customers; they’re a community of parents who share a passion for the healthiest sustainable products for their little ones. Its tidy shelves are stuffed with an array of biodegradable, eco- and health-conscious options, from all-natural baby food to adorable gift baskets. 105 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 688-9866, yumandbum.com

A cocktail at Pietro's Prime (Photo by Steve Legato)Cocktails: Pietro’s Prime

They pour a generous martini at West Chester’s premier steakhouse. Choose from a list of 23 innovative varieties that includes the Philly Twist—made with Bluecoat Philadelphia gin, midori, pineapple juice and a splash of sour—and the Frank, a blend of Stoli raspberry and orange vodkas, Cointreau and a squeeze of lime juice. Juicy non-martini options include the Pearberry Mojito (a fruitier take on the classic) and the Grapefruit Collins. 125 W. Market St., West Chester, (484) 760-6100, pietrosprime.com

Contemporary Asian: Auspicious
Lively, light and flavorful Asian dishes make up a moderately priced menu that’s got a little something for everyone, including the kids. Try the firecracker tilapia, Cantonese-style baby-back ribs, Sriracha Buffalo wings, Penang paella or mango chicken—or create your own stir-fry. 11 Cricket Ave., Ardmore, (610) 642-1858, mastersofkungfood.com

Creative Cakes: Cream Valley Farm Catering & Cakes
A background in pottery, costume design and decorative arts has translated into a steady cake business for Chester County’s Kristyn Marchus, who’s been baking since age 8. Whether you’re looking for a whimsical or a sophisticated cake—one that’s as good to eat as it is to look at—Marchus is up to the task. And her creative touch will have your guests “oohing” and “ahing” long after the last crumb has been snatched up. 786 Kulp Road, Pottstown, (610) 326-3982, creamvalleyfarm.com

Crêpes: La Belle Epoque Wine Bistro
Chef-owner Loic Barneau has transformed his quaint bistro into a snazzy wine bar with a chic new look, a full bar and an affordable by-the-glass wine list. What hasn’t changed is Barneau’s hearty buckwheat crêpes, made on a large griddle called a billig. Try the La St. Jacques, filled with pan-seared scallops and leek reduction, or the La Forestière, brimming with wild mushrooms, shallots and béchamel sauce. 38 W. State St., Media, (610) 566-6808, labellebistro.com

Charlestown Cooperative Farm's Lisa Wimble (Photo by Steve Legato)CSA: Charlestown Cooperative Farm
Founded by two of the area’s leading local food pioneers, Liz and Bill Anderson, this 40-acre noncertified organic vegetable CSA offers a wide variety of fresh-picked vegetables, flowers and herbs to its members—many of whom have waited up to two years to join. Along with a U-pick garden, the farm offers a variety of educational programs and internship opportunities for aspiring chefs. 2565 Charlestown Road, Phoenixville, (610) 917-0252, charlestowncooperativefarm.org

Bakers of Buffington pastry chef Amanda Brooks (Photo by Heidi Reuter)Decadent Cakes: Bakers of Buffington
While the moms at kids’ birthday parties tend to either shun dessert or lunge toward the first iced object they see, dads are the true taste-testers of a great birthday cake. To watch one put the first piece of a Bakers of Buffington creation in his mouth is a beautiful thing; it’s surprise, bliss and a bit of divine ecstasy all rolled into one. From the kiddie to the classy to the avant-garde, the decorations are stunning. You’ll never buy another supermarket birthday cake. 131 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, (610) 873-8033, bakersofbuffington.net

Double-Date Place: Teca
OK, so a Saturday night at Teca can be on the loud side. That’s why it’s best to ask another couple to join in the revelry at this boisterous-in-the-best-way, Euro-flavored eatery in downtown West Chester. Its Italian tapas-style appetizers and salads—all under $10—are perfect for sharing, and the wine list is impressive. And if all the convivial chatter gets a little overwhelming, you can always grab a table outside (weather permitting). 38 E. Gay St., West Chester, (610) 738-8244, tecawine.com

Eclectic Desserts: Majolica
This BYO has induced swoons with its revolving roster of luscious desserts. Chef/owner Andrew Deery has dazzled with pineapple sorbet, coconut tapioca and macadamia nut brittle; coffee cardamom or chocolate pots de crème with spiced doughnuts; fennel panna cotta with strawberries and aged balsamico; and fragrant shortbread cookies served with Meyer lemon curd and Earl Grey tea ice cream. 258 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 917-0962, majolicarestaurant.com

Eco-Conscious Mexican: Chipotle Mexican Grill

At Chipotle, the meats are hormone- and antibiotic-free, and the produce is sourced from local growers. Two of its franchises are LEED certified, and all locations have sustainable practices in place and utilize recycled serving products. Chipotle even has recycling bins on the premises for customers to help them maintain their mission. Try the pork carnitas tacos with a side of corn salad and guacamole—and opt for the spicy salsa. Various locations, chipotle.com

Family Place: D’Ignazio’s Towne House

There’s no place like home—except at the Towne House. This ageless 1951 creation offers comfortable rooms perfect for holiday dinners and milestones big and small. Families love the $9.99 pasta nights and a well-varied kids’ menu. And the amicable staff is always the cherry on top at this family-owned and -operated neighborhood favorite. 117 Veterans Square, Media, (610) 566-6141, townehouse.com

Farmers’ Market: Phoenixville Farmers’ Market
More than just a place to stock up on locally grown, raised or produced meats, poultry, produce, cheese and other specialty items, Phoenixville Farmers’ Market is a community that promotes eating healthy, supporting the local economy and fostering friendships. Every week, there’s live music at 10 a.m.; on Second Saturdays, local artists join the market. Bridge Street and Taylor Alley, Phoenixville, phoenixvillefarmersmarket.org

First-Date Place: Azie
The Azie experience is like a night downtown without all the traffic, making it a welcomed choice for anxious first dates. Executive chef Takao Iinuma’s exquisite culinary creations—inspired by Japan, Thailand, France and Italy—are a total conversation starter. So let those butterflies go in the chic bar/lounge before moving to the charming dining room or the roof deck under the stars. 217-219 W. State St., Media, (610) 566-4750, azie-restaurant.com

A La Maison Bistro's French onion soup (Photo by Steve Legato)French Onion Soup:
A La Maison Bistro

Packed with sweet, caramelized onions slow-cooked in a rich chicken- and beef-based stock, this new BYO’s onion soup gratinée makes a stunning entrance in an antique-ish crock capped with a baguette hunk and lightly bronzed layer of Gruyère. All you need is a spoon—and a vintage cabernet. 53 W. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (484) 412-8009, alamaisonbistro.com

Friday-Night Specials:
Patty Mac’s Café

Who knew that the place with the best breakfast chow in the neighborhood also offers exceptional dinners? Patty Mac’s chef Joseph Mascio—who deals flapjacks and home fries by day—turns out Friday-night deals like chicken Kiev, Caribbean-style catfish, crab cakes worthy of the Chesapeake, and milk-fed veal sautéed in white-wine sauce. 814 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, (610) 804-7383

Gourmet Pizza: Mom’s Bake at Home Pizza
When you can choose from a menu packed with more than 25 gourmet pies—like the Primo Prosciutto (with prosciutto, sweet onions, sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese) and the Clams Casino (chopped clams, bell peppers and crispy bacon)—there’s no excuse for walking out of Mom’s with just a plain. Picky types can create their own from the more than 30 toppings. 4007 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, (610) 356-4099, momspizzanewtownsquare.com

Grilled Trout: Bistro on the Brandywine
Chef Seth Harvey takes fish to a whole new depth with this French bistro’s seasonal grilled Idaho brook trout: two plump, tender filets drizzled in a savory, warm bacon vinaigrette atop a baby-leaf spinach salad. A dish this easy to enjoy—and hard to forget—has to re-emerge on the fall menu (we hope). 1623 Baltimore Pike (Routes 1 & 100), Chadds Ford, (610) 388-8090, bistroonthebrandywine.com

Handmade Chocolates: The Painted Truffle

We were more than happy to dive into the box of chocolates one of our colleagues received as a gift. Beautifully decorated, impressive on the palate, rich, and as potent as a double-shot of Italian espresso, each creation has a unique, well-balanced flavor profile that will keep you guessing. (Don’t worry, there’s a cheat sheet.) The salty-sweet caramel will have you salivating, as will pretty much everything else thought up by chocolatier Tom Sciascia, who’s a painter in his spare time. (215) 996-0606, thepaintedtruffle.com

Happy Hour Specials: Totaro’s

Happy hour starts early at this illustrious Conshohocken watering hole: 3:30-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 3-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The bar menu has plenty of drink deals—$6 for a glass of premium wine and $5 martinis. But the best deals are tasty items like lobster mac ’n’ cheese—usually $16, but half off during happy hour. 729 E. Hector St., Conshohocken, (610) 828-9341, totaros.com

Homemade Ice Cream: La Michoacana Homemade Ice Cream

This unassuming Mexican ice cream shop scoops up all the attention with inventive flavors like avocado, corn (a surreal must-try) and even mushroom around September. Of course, you can’t go wrong with a classic like mint, which boasts both a velvety freshness and a brisk kick. 231 E. State St., Kennett Square, (610) 444-2996

Hot and Sour Soup: Hunan Restaurant

Made with a mix of chicken and vegetable broth seasoned with ground cayenne and white pepper, rice wine vinegar and soy, this special recipe includes sweet, shredded pork, crunchy bamboo shoots, Chinese black mushrooms and fresh eggs (added just when the soup begins to boil). Go for lunch or dinner—you’ll get a fresh batch each time. 47 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (610) 642-3050

Hoagies: Our Deli & Meats
A great hoagie isn’t rocket science—though you could argue that this Paoli institution has the secret formula for the somewhat subjective balance of meats, cheese, condiments and roll. Granted, it’s tough to go wrong with Boar’s Head and Liscio’s Bakery in your corner, and these torpedo-shaped beauties are overstuffed with all the right ingredients (i.e. light on the veggies). And it can’t hurt to have a real butcher in the back—or that life-size Black Angus statue out front. 39 E. Lancaster Ave., Paoli, (610) 296-3350
 

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Food & Drink (Critics)

Italian Lunch Buffet: Fellini’s Café
Huge portions and reasonable prices have given this humble Italian BYO a reputation as the go-to trattoria for pasta lovers of all ages. But what regulars really like is the weekday lunch deal: $8.95 for an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring two pastas, a chicken entrée, mussels, veggies, soup, and two salads. 19 E. Lancaster Ave., Paoli, (610) 644-6767

Indian Cuisine: Khajuraho

It’s been 13 years since Bharat Luthra first started tempting us with the exotic flavors—and erotic statuary—of Khajuraho, Northern India’s mecca of edible and physical sensuality. With a name chosen to convey parallel enjoyment of food and flesh, this Khajuraho is less racy than it sounds, an ode to the aromas and textures that make up Luthra’s homestyle Indian fare. The weekend lunch buffet is one of the best—and tastiest—deals in town. Ardmore Plaza, 12 Greenfield Ave., Ardmore, (610) 896-7200, khajurahoindia.com

Kids’ Menu: McKenzie Brew House
Kids are picky eaters—but ever-so-pleased picky eaters at McKenzie. Tots to teens can enjoy a rare variety, from grapes and buttered noodles to pigs in a blanket, London Broil and kids’ calamari. The classics are there, too—like chicken fingers, grilled cheese and pizza. All in all, a very happy meal. 240 Lancaster Ave., Malvern, (610) 296-2222, mckenziebrewhouse.com

Local Food Champion: Sean Weinberg at Restaurant Alba
Restaurant Alba’s seasonally driven, fire-inspired chef must’ve had parents who prodded him to be a leader, not a follower. Long before the local food movement was considered cool, he was combing the countryside for organic, free-range, hormone-free, locally grown or produced ingredients. A farmer’s best friend, Weinberg has done more than his share to bridge the gap between farm and table, and to turn customers on to some of the freshest, most delicious food in Chester and Lancaster counties. 7 W. King St., Malvern, (610) 644-4009, restaurantalba.com

Local Treat Gone National: Johnnie’s Dog House
See story. 11 Louella Court, Wayne, (484) 582-0151; Philadelphia International Airport, (215) 815-4044, johnniesdoghouse.com

Lox by the Pound: Genuardi’s
The nova goes for $20.99 per pound, kippered $16.99. Devotees recommend calling ahead for this “steal”—especially at the St. Davids location, home to slicer extraordinaire Aaron Blumenthal. What’s the big deal? You try slicing this soft, bony fish without making salmon salad. 550 E. Lancaster Ave., St. Davids, (610) 989-0781; 50 E. Wynnewood Road, Wynnewood, (610) 896-4540, genuardis.com

Lunch Deal: $10.95 Indian/Thai Special at Spice Indian Thai Bistro
On the Indian end of things, we can’t get enough of the sneakily spicy lamb vindaloo, the creamy, tomato-y chicken tikka masala, and the fragrant, spicy tandoor-cooked Indian butter chicken makhani—all served with fluffy basmati rice. For Thai, it’s a crispy roll stuffed with ground chicken, bean thread and veggies; so-bad-for-you fried cracker crisp; and pungent curry made with beef, chicken or shrimp—and, for our palates, a little extra spice. 4843 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, (610) 356-5262

Lunch Stop Between Errands: Così
From Così’s signature Tuscan bread to fresh, made-to-order salads and sandwiches, this is fast food that’s actually good for you. Everything is marked with nutritional information to help diners make smart choices; low-cal substitutions are noted. The quick, friendly service, brightly lit interior and free Wi-Fi draws a diverse crowd of moms and kids, business types, students, and others looking for reasonably priced food on the go. Various locations, getcosi.com

Mexican Food on a Budget: Don Gabriel’s

The no-frills curb appeal of Don Gabriel’s hasn’t scared off adventurous foodies who rave about its affordable, simple, refreshingly authentic Mexican cuisine. We love the overstuffed $2 tacos and $5 burritos; the enormous enchiladas, rellenos and fajitas; and the Pastor Burrito, peppery-sweet pulled pork in a spicy sauce with pineapples. 611 W. Strasburg Road, West Chester, (610) 431-3212

Microbrew: General Lafayette Inn

This rustic, seven-barrel brewhouse (the fourth oldest tavern in the country) is best known for its Chocolate Thunder Porter, kick-your-butt Raspberry Mead-Ale and hearty Sunday brunches. The beers here are big—especially the Abbey Blonde, which has been known to send some patrons home stumbling. Hats off to brewmaster Christopher Leonard and his accomplice, Russ Czajka. 646 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill, (610) 941-0600, generallafayette.com

Modern Mexican with Star-Chef Flair: Distrito

Jose Garces’ hip, neon-emblazoned Mexican eatery has become the destination for whimsical but refined Mexican fare and an amazing assortment of tequila and margaritas. Everything is worth the trip—from the five types of ceviche to the skirt-steak nachos, yellowtail tuna tacos, pork belly mole, jumbo lump crab enchiladas and more. 3945 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, (215) 222-1657, distritorestaurant.com

McShea's owner Neil McShea (Photo by Steve Legato)Neighborhood Bar/Tavern: McShea’s
This popular Narberth hangout takes pride in its Irish heritage with warm hospitality and a fun atmosphere that makes for a relaxed drinking or dining experience. The menu includes a waistline-busting Sunday brunch, adventurous salads, sandwiches and Asian-inspired dishes, and a 16-ounce pan-seared prime rib. Take the McShea’s Beer Box challenge and earn a personalized mug. 242 Haverford Ave., Narberth, (610) 667-0510, mcsheas.com

Neighborhood Restaurant: Old Guard House Inn
Cozy, friendly and consistent, the Guard House never fails to warm customers’ bellies with its hearty German-Continental-American served fireside. Or grab a comfy seat at the bar, where you can savor Chef Albert’s cooking as you catch up with friends. 953 Youngsford Road, Gladwyne, (610) 649-9708, guardhouseinn.com

Sit & Stay Café at Braxton's Animal Works in Wayne (Photo by Steve Legato)New Addition to Haverford: Saxbys Coffee
An upscale coffee shop was long overdue in Haverford, so its no wonder Saxbys—the West Coast-born franchise—has been enjoying capacity crowds since brewing its first cup of locally roasted beans back in the fall. Spacious but cozy, with a secluded porch and free Wi-Fi, this latest Saxbys is the first to serve food. Along with healthy froyo (frozen yogurt) and all kinds of fresh fruit toppings, you’ll find an impressive variety of affordable breakfast fare, fresh lunchtime salads and sandwiches—including PB&J for the kids. 346 Lancaster Ave., Haverford, (484) 416-3781, saxbyscoffee.com


New Café for Dogs (and People): Sit & Stay Café at Braxton’s Animal Works
You won’t find coffee at this café—unless you bring it yourself. But then, dogs don’t drink java, do they? This quiet corner offers pets and their people a taste of the drink everyone needs—water—at table and floor level. The idea is to give animals and their companions a quiet, pet-friendly spot to gather, sit, read, chat and play “people” games like checkers. 620 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 688-0769, braxtons.com

Marty Grims of White Dog Café (Photo by Shane McCauley)News for Eco-Conscious Gourmands: White Dog Café
This year started with a bang for restaurant mogul Marty Grims, who rang in the New Year with the purchase of White Dog Café in University City. Now Grims is taking the concept west. The Wayne outpost will have outdoor dining, a full bar and the original’s same commitment to all-natural, humanely raised local ingredients, including grass-fed beef, free-range, hormone-free poultry, and sustainable fish. 200 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne

New Thai Restaurant: Jazmine Authentic Thai Cuisine
See review. 344 W. Gay St., West Chester, (610) 696-3332, jazminethai.com

North Carolina-Style Barbecue: Pig Out BBQ Pit

Kansans and Texans can brag all they like about their brisket, but when folks in the Carolinas say “barbecue,” they’re talking about pork. Pig Out BBQ Pit (in both its eat-in and take-out incarnations) excels at the pepper-and-vinegar-soaked pulled pork folks in North Carolina claim as theirs. The meat strikes a sublime balance between lean and moist, and boasts just enough heat on the back end to make you wish you could boast Southern roots of your own. 134 E. Gay St., West Chester, pigoutwestchester.com, (484) 887-8107; Pig Out Take Out, 138 Glen Mills Road, Glen Mills, (610) 361-8200, pigouttakeout.com

Place for a Casual Business Meeting: Market Street Grill
At this unassuming café, you’ll get all the space you need to talk shop, plus good eats on the cheap. Breakfast and lunch have always been Market Street’s thing, but they recently added a dinner menu (5-9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday). No entrée is over $15, and the low-key, unpretentious vibe can still be had for free. 6 W. Market St., West Chester, (610) 429-5328

Place for a Decadent Breakfast Date: Du Jour
Forget your usual bowl of cereal—this happening Haverford breakfast stop’s menu oozes decadence, with overstuffed omelets, smoked salmon eggs Benedict, scrambled egg sandwiches, coconut-crusted brioche French toast, and flavored pancakes. And the granite-topped community counter is a great place to strike up conversation if you’re dining alone. 379 Lancaster Ave., Haverford, (610) 896-4556, dujourmarket.com

Place for a Family Celebration: Trattoria Giuseppe
Reasonable prices, a diverse menu, and ample portions make this popular Italian restaurant a good choice for families—and its BYO status helps keep the cost in check. Depending on the size of your party, the semi-private dining room tucked behind brick arches is a perfect spot to hide from the usually very busy restaurant. Our one piece of advice: Be patient. A devoted clientele often amounts to slower-than-desirable service. But the food is well worth the wait. 4799 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, (610) 353-4871

Place for a Private Party: Nectar

Make a date for your next party at Nectar, which is easily one of the most posh restaurants on the Main Line. Rent the balcony that overlooks the main dining area, or one of the more private rooms. Then again, if you really want to wow your guests, the entire restaurant can accommodate you and 249 of your closest friends. 1091 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, (610) 725-9000, tastenectar.com
 

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Place for a Private Party in Philadelphia: Osteria

Osteria’s secluded, rustic-chic wine room, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, farmhouse-style furnishings and sienna-hued walls, can accommodate 30 for a sit-down meal and 45 for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. The four-season patio is equally charming, and it can handle 50 seated and 75 for stand-up celebrations. The wonderful selection of wines, paired with the culinary creations of either Marc Vetri or Jeff Michaud, will leave you feeling like you just spent the weekend in Tuscany. 640 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, (215) 763-0920, osteriaphilly.com

Place for a Romantic Meal: Birchrunville Store Café
It’s easy to be swept off your feet at Chester County’s most revered culinary destination—especially when you’re tucked away in one of the corner tables at this homey country store with your significant other, a primo bottle of wine and one of chef Francis Trzeciak’s inspired preparations. Be sure to indulge in the warm butterscotch cake with caramel gelato, and bring along some port to make the moment last. 1403 Hollow Road, Birchrunville, (610) 827-9002, birchrunvillestorecafe.com

Place for an Intimate Wedding: Pond
Shielded from bustling (though convenient) Lancaster Avenue, couples find newlywed bliss on Pond’s lovely, landscaped property. From the drifting resident swans and sparkling lighted bridge to the four-season garden and charming fireplaces, this smaller-capacity wedding and reception venue creates a truly private and memorable experience. Add chef/owner Abde Dahrouch’s fine French and Mediterranean fare to the mix, and it’s love at first bite. 175 King of Prussia Road, Radnor, (610) 293-9411, pondrestaurant.com

Place to Buy Artisanal Bread on a Budget: LeBus Bakery
If you’re in the mood for fresh-from-the-oven muffins, hearty breads or crispy croissants, it’s well worth the trek to LeBus Bakery’s outlet store. Tucked into a suite of nondescript industrial buildings off Shoemaker Road in King of Prussia, the outlet sells overstock from the day’s bakery run. For the best selection, get there mid-morning. Grab a cup of coffee while you make up your mind about which mouthwatering creation to take home. 479 Shoemaker Road, King of Prussia, (610) 337-1444, lebusbakery.com

Place to Dine Alone: Tango
The bartenders at this train-side restaurant understand your “just want to be alone” mood, so give them the look and sidle up to the bar on one of the more private stools farthest away from the action. Eat to your heart’s content without having to stop chewing before you speak, and slyly take in all the conversation—which is sure to be intriguing with this old-guard Main Line crowd. 39 Morris Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 526-9500, tastetango.com

Place to Dine at the Mall: California Café
Shopping at one of the biggest malls in the nation can do a number on your wallet and your appetite. With its trendy dining room, impressive dishes like crab-crusted tilapia and filet mignon (with Gorgonzola smashed potatoes), and a cocktail list filled with a variety of yummy martinis and margaritas, California Café makes you forget where you are. KOP … remember? 160 N. Gulph Road, Suite 5203, King of Prussia, (610) 354-8686, californiacafe.com

Place to Dine with Your Undergrad: The Grog
Any college kid can tolerate an impromptu visit from Mom and Dad if a meal at the Grog is part of the deal. The restaurant’s laid-back vibe and plasma televisions should provide enough of a calming distraction as you try to grill them about their grades. Younger diners gravitate toward one of the Grog’s signature burgers (with a side of Old Bay fries); adults appreciate more sophisticated dishes like filet au poivre, Atlantic salmon and tuna steak. 863 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 527-5870

Place to Eat and Stay: Mendenhall Inn Restaurant

Located between Longwood Gardens and Winterthur Museum, this Brandywine Valley inn offers several romantic—and educational—getaway packages that include a hot buffet breakfast, a bottle of house champagne and a box of Godiva chocolates. Two packages include admission to area museums or the Chaddsford Winery, a five-course dinner featuring Mendenhall’s renowned continental fare and signature Maryland crab soup, plus a complimentary glass of wine. 323 Kennett Pike (Route 52), Mendenhall, (610) 388-1181, mendenhallinn.com

Place to Kiss and Make Up: Duling-Kurtz House

A Main Line tradition for special occasions and weddings, the Duling-Kurtz House overflows with three centuries’ worth of history and charm. A $225 overnight package includes a four-course dinner for two, with soup or the Duling-Kurtz house salad, choice of entrée, and dessert. Celebrate your arrival with a bottle of house champagne for an additional $25. 146 S. Whitford Road, Exton, (610) 524-1830, dulingkurtz.com

Place to Mix a Six (Pack): Gullifty’s
Owner Gene Johnson has been serving up a noble selection of draught and bottled beer for more than three decades. His best idea yet: “Mix Your Six” to-go packs, a clever marketing move aimed at customers looking for a little adventure and a great gift idea. There’s also a suggested menu (for those of us who haven’t passed “Beer 101”) that includes his and hers lists. With a selection of more than 130 beers to choose from, getting bored with your brew is not likely. 1149 Lancaster Ave., Rosemont, (610) 525-1851, gulliftys.com

Place to Please All Palates and Budgets: Spamps Restaurant

There’s something for everyone at this family-run steaks, sushi and pasta restaurant. That makes it a good option for groups and for picky kids who can never agree on anything. The menu boasts heaping bowls of linguini and clams or mussels, eggplant Parmesan, herb-roasted chicken with portobello mushrooms, and other $15 dinners. Pricier fare includes the jumbo-lump-topped filet and the ahi tuna steak. 16 E. First Ave., Conshohocken, (610) 825-4155, spampsrestaurant.com

Place to Prep for a Party (High-End): Whole Foods
Hit the flower bins before heading straight to the locally supported produce section, where you can also grab a variety of nuts and other crunchy nibbles. Then load up on peel-and-eat shrimp, smoked salmon, tasty gazpacho soup and roasted chicken. The latter is perfect in a pasta salad with grilled radicchio, leeks, corn, sun-dried tomatoes, chunks of hormone-free bacon and kalamata olives. Various locations, wholefoodsmarket.com

Place to Prep for a Party (on a Budget): Trader Joe’s
Whipping up summery fare is a breeze with TJ’s fully cooked baby-back ribs or citrus-marinated pork carnitas (don’t forget the taco shells) topped with smoky garlic chipotle or tangy corn salsa. Pasta fans can opt for a heaping bowl of lemon pappardelle, chunks of balsamic or lemon grilled chicken, feta cheese crumbles, and a jar of marinated grilled veggies, or bruschetta. We could go on and on. Various locations, traderjoes.com

Place to Relive Your College Days: Kelly’s
Unlike some other college bars along Lancaster Avenue—which are too small and too dark—Kelly’s has plenty of seating for lunch, dinner or happy hour. The second floor has a lounge area with leather couches and flat-screen TVs, and another dining space. The younger crowd typically arrives en masse after 11 p.m., so there’s plenty of time to catch up with friends after dinner. 1107 Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 520-9344, kellystaproom.com

Place to Take an Out-of-Town Client: XIX at the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue

First-time visitors will love you for showing them Center City from this perspective—looking out from the 19th floor of the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue. Architecturally stunning and seafood-centric, XIX serves sophisticated cuisine in an opulent dining room with a panoramic view of the city, a more casual café, and a swanky bar. It also has one of the most spectacular outdoor public balconies in all of Philadelphia. 200 S. Broad St., Philadelphia,  (215) 893-1234, parkphiladelphia.hyatt.com

Place to Unwind after Work: Cedar Hollow Inn
Cedar Hollow Inn’s relaxed atmosphere and nightly beer specials offer a welcome respite for Great Valley’s frazzled corporate minions. When it’s time to eat, there’s Monday’s all-you-can-eat king crab legs. And on Tuesday, purchase two dinner entrées and get a bottle of wine for half price. Deals like these should make the rest of your workweek go down a little easier. 2455 Yellow Springs Road, Malvern, (610) 296-9006, cedarhollowinn.com

Pork Sandwich: McCloskey’s Restaurant

Kick it old-school with a long roll, Provolone and house-made gravy. Or take it gourmet, served on a panini with a generous handful of spring mix and a pleasantly bracing swoosh of Craisin horseradish. For dinner, this monster comes with a side of fries—so if you’re planning on going to McCloskey’s at night, you might want to skip lunch. 17 Cricket Ave., Ardmore, (610) 642-9280

Power Lunch in Philadelphia: 10 Arts

It’s hard not to feel like a highroller when you’re sipping a swanky cocktail and nibbling upscale lunch fare courtesy of celebrity chef Eric Ripert and leading lady Jennifer Carroll. Stealthily negotiate your next big deal over wild boar prosciutto, a braised pork belly BLT, a fish burger, a grilled flatiron steak, or an ample side of macaroni ham and cheese for two—all beneath the Ritz’s magnificent rotunda or in the opulent dining room. 10 Avenue of the Arts, Philadelphia, (215) 523-8273, 10arts.com
 

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Raw Bar: Creed’s Seafood & Steaks

Creed’s clubby atmosphere and reputation for great steaks make it a stalwart in King of Prussia—but don’t miss the salty delights of the raw bar, which boasts fresh oysters and clams shipped in from esteemed hot spots like Rhode Island, British Columbia and Washington State. The briny delights are served without the typical heavy, red cocktail sauce, replaced with light-but-spicy red pepper and lemon mignonette. 499 N. Gulph Road, King of Prussia, (610) 265-2550, creedskop.com

Reason to Go to Limerick: Craft Ale House
Another great place to foster your lust for hops and barley, Craft Ale House serves an eclectic mix of macro- and microbrews on tap. The list includes Old Rasputin Impy Stout, Twin Lakes Pale Ale, Stoudt’s Double IPA and Founders Centennial IPA, and several local Belgian and darker brews, along with rarities like Pliny the Elder. The tap puts out about 16 different beers, and regulars rave about the melt-in-your-mouth burgers and homemade seasoned fries. 708 W. Ridge Pike, Limerick, (484) 943-8180, craftalehouse.com

Reason to Go to Royersford: Sly Fox Brewery
There’s not much to complain about at Sly Fox Brewing, other than the fact that both locations are just far enough from the Main Line to make sampling more than a couple of their signature brews not such a good idea. We’re a long way from December, but the Christmas Ale is yummy, as is the bold and spicy Route 113 Pale Ale and the smoky Rauchbier (which took home a gold medal at the 2008 Great American Beer Festival in Denver). 312 N. Lewis Road, Royersford, (610) 948-8088, slyfoxbeer.com

Reason to Go to Wilmington: Domaine Hudson
Grazing means casually sampling—and that’s just what Tom Hudson wants customers to do at Domaine Hudson Wine Bar & Eatery. Hudson’s creative small plates and seemingly endless variety of small wine pours allow diners to cover an awful lot of ground in one sitting. 1314 N. Washington St., Wilmington, Del., (302) 655-9463

Reason to Love Summer: Capri Homemade Italian Water Ice

Nothing says summer better than convening with fellow Main Liners outside this petite water ice shop—a tradition that starts as soon as we turn back the clocks and reclaim an extra hour of daylight. Served up in simple, clear plastic cups, with big scoops, Capri’s tantalizing flavors refresh and reenergize. 238 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 386-1999

Restaurant: Talula’s Table
You still have to wait a year for a chance to try chef Bryan Sikora’s swoon-worthy creations, but stop in early enough on a Sunday afternoon and you might just be rewarded with a delectable cheese board. The tantalizing prepared-foods menu changes daily, but count on a variety of handmade pastas, locally grown and inspired cold veggie soups, and naturally raised meats—perfect for grilling—along with a growing selection of artisan cheeses. 102 W. State St., Kennett Square, (610) 444-8255, talulastable.com

The New Bar at Limoncello Ristorante (Photo by Carlos Alejandro)Restaurant Addition: The New Bar at Limoncello Ristorante
Limoncello’s tasty Southern Italian cuisine, generous $9.95 lunch buffet, and gracious service are enough to draw a steady stream of hungry customers day and night. That said, the new bar area has provided additional energy, space and convenience—not to mention killer martinis—to this already-bustling eatery. 9 N. Walnut St., West Chester, (610) 436-6230, limoncellowc.com

Restaurant Re-Concept: Cooper’s Brick Oven Wine Bar
At Cooper’s, you can steal menu items from the more formal Jake’s right next door, which makes for a well-rounded, casual yet sophisticated dining experience. Be sure to try one of their sizable martinis or a glass of wine (most priced under $10). And the brown-bag potato chips—thin, crispy, light on oil, and seasoned with malt vinegar powder—are so worth the calories. 4367 Main St., Philadelphia, (215) 483-2750, jakesrestaurant.com

Revival of Main Line Nightlife: The Paddock at Devon
Finally, a new place to go on the Main Line for an over-30 crowd looking for sophisticated—but far from stodgy—fun after 10 p.m. Granted, weekends can get a little crazy at this Lancaster Avenue restaurant and nightclub, with a packed dancefloor grooving to the sounds of a DJ Friday night and live bands Saturday. Weekdays feature happy hour specials until 7 p.m.—and the food’s pretty darn good, too. 629 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 687-3533, devonpaddock.com

Salads to Go: DiFabio’s 9th Street Catering

No skimpy greens here. The portions are generous and just begging to be topped with pieces of DiFabio’s famed pistachio chicken tenders or grilled chicken. A highlight is the Caprese—a mix of spring greens, fresh mozzarella, plum tomatoes, basil, roasted peppers and red onions drizzled with housemade balsamic dressing. 700 W. Haverford Road, Bryn Mawr, (610) 520-7300; 1032 N. Providence Road, Media, (484) 444-0850; d9catering.com

Scones: Special Teas Tea Room
This Chadds Ford treasure’s buttery handmade scones are heavy enough to stand alone, yet still light enough to be enjoyed with other afternoon-tea fare. The tasty raisin or plain pastry version sings when spread with lip-smacking lemon curd, whipped butter or Devonshire cream. Or for dessert, savor the chocolate chip toffee, cranberry white chip or wild blueberry-raspberry scones. Olde Ridge Village Shoppes, Suite 37, 100 Ridge Road, Chadds Ford, (610) 358-2320, specialteastearoom.com

Seasonal Fruits and Veggies: Oakmont Farmers Market

You won’t be able to resist Oakmont’s glorious assault on the senses—purple, green, yellow and orange cauliflower; lush strawberries, peaches and tomatoes; farm-fresh flowers; and unusual specialties like hormone- and antibiotic-free pastured bison. And you never know when one of the area’s hottest chefs will be shopping right alongside you. Oakmont Municipal Parking Lot, 2419 W. Darby Road, Havertown, oakmontfarmersmarket.org

Server: Beth Wexler at Teresa’s Next Door
You might recognize the affable Ms. Wexler from John Harvard’s, where she first made her foray into the world of brewpubs. Since joining the team at Teresa’s Next Door, her enthusiasm and knowledge for all things hops and barley has taken off. Even if you don’t know what you’re in the mood for, she does. Her method of study is simple: Take the beers home, pair them with food, and figure out how to drink them. 126 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne, (610) 293-0119, teresas-cafe.com

Short Ribs: Blue Pear Bistro

Chester County hasn’t been the same since Blue Pear chef David Fogelman started dishing out Southern comfort in the form of smoky, tender beef short ribs, grilled for intense caramelization and braised in a thinned-down barbecue sauce—a covert-ops concoction of poblano and jalapeno peppers, garlic, ketchup, chili powder, mustard, and onions. 275 Brintons Bridge Road, West Chester, (610) 399-9812, bluepearbistro.com

Sliders: Newtown Grill

Chef Mike Rigney re-imagines the bite-size burger, endowing its natural juiciness with a touch of class by laying on bacon, cheese, salsa rosa and pickles. Down the hatch! 191 S. Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, (610) 356-9700, italiansteakhouse.com

Small-Plate Menu: Riverstone Café
With its emphasis on pizzas, flatbreads, sandwiches and the raw bar, Riverstone Café doesn’t seem like your typical tapas eatery. But it’s with the small-plate menu that the kitchen shines. Selections jump from south of the border to Italy to Japan, and from land to sea and back again. Whiteland Town Center, 143 W. Lincoln Highway, Exton, (610) 594-2233, riverstonecafe.com

Savona's Melissa Monasoff (Photo by Heidi Reuter)Soft Pretzel: Philly Pretzel Factory
This is the pretzel that Philly is known for—soft, chewy and (if you time it right) hot from the oven. Once you’ve had one of these babies from the Philly Pretzel Factory, you’ll never be tempted by the street variety again. Various locations, phillysoftpretzelfactory.com

Sommelier: Melissa Monasoff at Savona
Since joining the team last fall after a brief stint at Maia, Monosoff has enhanced Savona’s highly lauded wine list with expanded by-the-glass offerings and an interesting array of 100 wines for under $100. On Friday evenings, you can pick Monosoff’s brain while exploring a selection of three whites and three reds from around the world (5:30 p.m., $25). 100 Old Gulph Road, Gulph Mills, (610) 520-1200, savonarestaurant.com
 


Soups: Zoup!

The rotating Zoup! menu has zest and zip, but it’s also hearty and heart-healthy. Low-fat, dairy-free and vegetarian “zoups” include French onion, beef barley, chicken potpie, Jamaican bay gumbo, tomato basil, split pea, spicy black bean chili, and more. A fresh French, multigrain or ciabatta roll is automatic, but soup-sippers can also opt for a sourdough boule. 235 Lancaster Ave., Suite E-3, Frazer, (610) 408-0303; 509 Wilmington Pike, Glen Mills, (610) 459-4568; zoup.com

Sticky Buns: Jacquette’s Bakery

Nuts or raisins? We went with both from Jacquette’s—and we weren’t disappointed. Firm and chewy, not too sweet, and dripping of gooey goodness, these sticky buns had at least one Main Line Today skeptic reconsidering his loyalty to the Jersey Shore’s famed Mallon’s enterprise. But does he dare bring along a box to Avalon this weekend? In a word: yum. 2076 Sproul Road, Broomall, (610) 353-2550

Strombolis: Berwyn Pizza

Any ’boli connoisseur will tell you that it’s all about the shell—and there’s nothing worse than a mouthful of dough. Berwyn Pizza’s is thin, flaky and baked to perfection, with just enough elasticity to hold the ample fillings. We love the Italian, with ham, salami, capicola, sauce and three cheeses. Or go even heartier with the Berwyn Special’s ample layers of ham, salami, capicola, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, sweet peppers, sauce and cheese. 1026 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, (610) 647-6339, berwynpizza.net
 

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Sushi: Bluefin

Manned by a handsome group of young, knife-wielding itamaes, Bluefin continues to wow its devoted clientele with new twists on old favorites, artful presentations, and a steady influx of unusual fish. The spicy tuna sundae—ruby red maguro with avocado and spicy sauce—reigns as the house specialty. For something new, try the grilled eel served over rice. 1017 Germantown Pike, Plymouth Meeting, (610) 277-3917, sushibluefin.com

Sushi and Chinese in One: Z.Wei
The tricky part about Asian cuisine is finding a spot that not only does great in-house work, but also excels at takeout. Z.Wei compiles the best items from Chinese and sushi menus, presenting a broad range of options for on-the-go diners who have trouble deciding what they crave. Whiteland Towne Center, 163 W. Lincoln Highway, Exton, (610) 363-1850, zweirestaurant.com

Take-Home Meatballs: Luigi & Giovanni
Italians are a straightforward bunch, so it’s no surprise that the chefs at this popular specialty market/deli pass on fussy, unpronounceable ingredients in favor of good homestyle recipes—just like Grandma used to make (sometimes better) and like they’re still making in South Philly. There’s nothing in these meatballs but pork, veal and beef, so they’re full of flavor and flawlessly moist. Don’t forget the sauce, the Provolone and the long roll. 3601 Chapel Road, Newtown Square, (610) 353-2080, luigiandgiovannicaterers.com

Tofu for Meat Eaters: Pei Wei Asian Diner

Tofu is a hard sell for carnivores, but Pei Wei serves up a pan-fried palate pleaser. Long, thin strips of this ancient meat substitute are cut from a baked five-spice block, leaving a tasty brown frame to each slice. We recommend Mandarin Kung Pao—with its chile-seared soy sauce, scallions, snap peas, carrots and peanuts—to enhance the tofu’s natural flavor. It’s addicting. 950 Baltimore Pike, Springfield, (610) 549-9060, peiwei.com

Tea Room: A Taste of Britain

This quaint teahouse has sustained a devoted audience despite location changes and economic downturns. Must be the delicious nibbles—old-school, petite and oh-so-cute tea sandwiches, precisely crafted with sophisticated fillings. You’ll also find a selection of larger sandwiches and salads, comfort fare like chicken potpie and quiche, and decadent sweets. And if you want loose tea, there’s plenty of that—more than 41 blends. 40 Berkeley Road, Devon, (610) 971-0390, easyelegance.net

Traditional Pizza: Garrett Hill Pizza
This casual pizzeria is a lifesaver for Villanova students and busy moms, who buzz in and out with plain cheese, margarita, barbecue chicken, chicken parm, chicken fajita, white, or any other pie variety they might dream up. Great sauce, thin but hearty crust, and a disdain for canned mushrooms make this one of our favorite pizza spots. 910 Conestoga Road, Rosemont, (610) 525-8813, (610) 525-8814, ghpizza.com

Traditional Sichuan and Taiwanese Cuisine: Han Dynasty
Sichuan-inspired and milder, Taiwanese cuisine take center stage at this unassuming Chinese restaurant tucked into an inconspicuous strip mall just off of a busy stretch of Route 100. For starters, try the generously stuffed steamed dumplings (moist, tender and even better with a dash of chili oil) or the spicy, stir-fried calamari. For more curious diners, there’s cold rabbit in chili oil, cold beef and tripe in hot sauce, and pork belly with preserved vegetables. 260 N. Pottstown Pike, Exton, (610) 524-4002, handynasty.net

Twist on a Philly Tradition: The Cheesesteak Egg Rolls at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
What can we say about these fully loaded, bite-size cheesesteaks wrapped in a crispy wonton and served with a zesty dipping sauce—other than “yum”? Oh, and please pass that pitcher of our favorite Iron Hill beer. Various locations, ironhillbrewery.com

Brian McConnell of Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery (Photo by Jared Castaldi)Unsung Brewmeister: Brian McConnell at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery

You can knock this local brewhouse for being a chain, but Rock Bottom’s brewmasters are among the best. One such fellow is Media’s Brian McConnell, who’s hailed by local beer expert Lew Bryson as “talented and oft-overlooked.” Personable and passionate, McConnell has been quietly winning accolades. Most recently, his Barleywine won a gold medal at the 2008 Great American Beer Festival in Denver. 1001 King of Prussia Plaza, King of Prussia, (610) 230-2739, rockbottom.com

Unsung Main Line Haunt:
Roach & O’Brien

Yes, Virginia, there is a real bar on the Main Line—not a club, not a disco, and not just for the college crowd—just a straight-up, old-school establishment. And, oh, if those walls could talk. Regulars praise the prices, the socio-economically diverse crowd, great burgers and bar food, darts, beers, and friendly service. 560 W. Lancaster Ave., Haverford, (610) 527-6308

Veggie Burger: MilkBoy Coffee

Neither mushy nor over-flattened, MilkBoy’s all-natural, no-filler veggie burger packs a produce punch. Topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese (vegan, if you prefer) and vegan Thousand Island dressing, all between a Kaiser roll (or any style bread you’d like), this generous take on an oft-overlooked and underappreciated meat alternative makes a whopping first impression. 2 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (610) 645-5269, milkboycoffee.com

Wine List Restaurant: Taquet
It just wouldn’t be summer without a night—or three—spent sipping wine and nibbling sophisticated appetizers on the porch at Restaurant Taquet. No matter what else comes to town, this humble, cozy hideaway offers one of the most relaxing dining and drinking experiences on the Main Line. The wine list is 180 bottles long, with a fine selection of French and American labels. Elsewhere, the by-the-glass offerings equate to about 27 (if you count champagne and dessert wines). 139 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 687-5005, taquet.com

Wine List in Philadelphia: Ristorante Panorama at Penn’s View Hotel

Located in the boutique-chic Penn’s View Hotel, this Old City trattoria boasts a vast and distinctive wine list. Choose from more than 530 vintages on the Proprietor’s Reserve List (ranging in price from $100 to $900); 27 flight combinations; by-the-glass pours from 150 labels; and select “vertical” collections (different vintages of the same wine). But Panorama’s biggest claim to fame may well be its custom-built preservation and dispensing system. 14 N. Front St., Philadelphia, (215) 922-7800, pennsviewhotel.com
 

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Shopping & Service (Critics)


Antique Shop: King Street Traders Fine Arts and Antiques

Among the antique-sleuthing set, it’s probably no surprise that King Street Traders is housed in a former general store. Owner Lynda P. Williams has a reputation for selling everything and anything—as long as it’s rare, elegant or has exceptional craftsmanship. That includes 18th- and 19th-century furniture, packed like a jigsaw puzzle into two floors and a back yard full of statuary. Still, it’s the American art—including sporting, sailing, and pastoral landscapes by graduates of the Pennsylvania Academy—that’s kept it in business for more than 25 years. 16 E. King St., Malvern, (610) 296-8818, kingstreettraders.com

Barber Shop and Recording Studio in One: Vince’s Barbershop and Optimus Recordings
See story. 11 St. Alban’s Circle, Newtown Square, (610) 356-4199, myspace.com/optimusrecordings

Sorella's Prom Lounge (Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli)Bookstore for Grownups:
Reader’s Forum

This old-fashioned spot is for serious readers looking for something a little different from what they’ll find at the big chains. Though you will find the works of mainstream authors displayed on its shelves, the crux of the Reader’s Forum mission is getting the word out about the lesser-known titles that aren’t backed by the big boys. 116 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne, (610) 254-9040

Bookstore for Kids: Children’s Book World
This small wonder remains an active force in helping parents foster a love of reading in their children. It works closely with area schools to do the same with its students. Lots of visiting authors and illustrators means your kids can build a timeless collection of autographed books to pass on to the next generation. 17 Haverford Station Road, Haverford, (610) 642-6274, childrensbookworld.net

Bookstore to Discover Local Authors: Chester County Books & Music

If bookselling was baseball, then local authors would be relegated to the outfield. But at Chester County Books & Music, there’s that old bookstore vibe that welcomes—and even highlights—authors from the neighborhood. As lovers of great literature (rather than just the bottom line), they’re not afraid of placing locals alongside nationally and internationally established authors. That gives even the greenest area writers a shot at hitting a home run. 975 Paoli Pike, West Chester, (610) 696-1661, ccbmc.com

Boutique Customer Service: Skirt
At Skirt, the needs of the customer come first—which is why owner Maureen Doron hires “stylists,” not salespeople, to work at her boutique. They all have backgrounds in the fashion industry, and they don’t work on commission. So if a stylist seems a bit too enthusiastic about that Catherine Malandrino dress or perfect pair of Hudson jeans, it’s because you really do look fabulous. 931 Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 520-0222, shop-skirt.com

Boutique for Prom Gowns: Sorella’s Prom Lounge
Charlene Mulholland and Jeanine Sherry have transformed the lower level of their women’s boutique into a luxe prom lounge, with racks of stunning gowns from hip designers like Aidan Mattox, Mori Lee and Tony Bowls. And since no girl wants to see a mirror image of her look, Sorella won’t sell two of the same dress for any prom. Where, oh where, was this place when we were in high school? 23 E. State St., Media, (610) 566-2393, sorellashop.com

Bosom Buddies Lingerie (Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli)Boutique to Get Your “Girls” Expertly Fitted: Bosom Buddies Lingerie
Bosom Buddies’ Gina Mastrangelo—the queen of matching a woman to the perfect bra—buzzes around her boutique measuring busts as she explains the importance of a proper cup fit and why the band of the bra shouldn’t be giving you “back fat.” Mastrangelo’s caring approach, coupled with her full line of specialty bras and accessories, is a godsend, especially for those who’ve undergone breast-related surgery. 36 Chestnut Road, Paoli, (610) 296-7626, bosombuddieslingerie.com

Bridal Boutique: Suky
After years in Ardmore, Suky moved to a more intimate location in the heart of Bryn Mawr last fall. The boutique is filled with stunning gowns from the most renowned names in bridal fashion, including Vera Wang, Bagley Mischka, Romona Keveza, Anne Barge and Ulla-Maija. Suky also caters to mothers of the bride (or groom) with gowns from Kevin Hall, Rose Taft and other hot designers. 1038 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 520-0122, sukyoccasions.com

Bridal Registry: Home Grown
You’ll find the best of the best throughout this Haverford boutique, everything from beautiful Simon Pearce stemware and elegant Bernardaud dinnerware, to amazing crystal from William Yeoward and Baccarat, and whimsical pieces from the MacKenzie-Childs collection. 393 W. Lancaster Ave., Haverford, (610) 642-3601, homegrownpa.com

Camps with Academic Cred: High School/Pre-College Camps at Julian Krinsky

Overachievers take note: Julian Krinsky’s High School/Pre-College Camps offer incredible opportunities, many in consort with the University of Pennsylvania—like an intensive four-week studio program in art and architecture at Penn’s School of Design and internships in a chosen field of interest. And for your budding M. Night Shyamalan, the WHYY Film Production Academy camp immerses students in the movie-making process, the end result shown at a festival that caps off the three-week session. 610 S. Henderson Road, King of Prussia, (610) 265-9401, jkcp.com

Childproofing for the Home: Kidproteq

Main Line grandparents Rachelle and Jeff Gansky first launched Kidproteq online before opening their Wayne store last year. The place has everything a worried parent could want, from outlet covers, baby helmets and edge-blockers for tables, to the Kidproteq tube, which measures whether an object is a choke-free size for children under 3. The Ganskys are even available for in-home baby-proofing. 532 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 688-7404, kidproteq.com

Petunia's Consignment Boutique (Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli)Consignment Shop for Fashionistas: Petunia’s Consignment Boutique
When it comes to her inventory, Petunia’s owner Lauren Handel is exceedingly label-conscious, so you can expect items that look almost new priced as low as a third of their full retail price. On a recent visit, we lusted over a pair of Manolo Blahnik patent-leather sandals, a Christian Dior evening dress, and a Louis Vuitton handbag. 22 Ardmore Ave., Ardmore, (610) 649-4005, petuniasconsignment.com

Consignment Shop for the Home: Great Estate Consignment Shop
Bobbie Cameron and Marcie Reber couldn’t have opened their year-old Great Estate Consignment Shop at a more opportune time, since most Main Liners are looking for recession-friendly shopping alternatives. This cozy corner shop in Bryn Mawr is stocked with almost-new settees, lamps, desks, tables, chairs and other unique pieces. If you want something you don’t see, leave your request on Great Estate’s wish list—and when the owners are on a buying trip, they’ll keep an eye out for it. 701 County Line Road, Bryn Mawr, (484) 380-2174

Custom Closets: Closets by Design

Get it together once and for all with an organizational system from Closets by Design—each customized to meet specific needs and maximize space. Begin the process with a complimentary design consultation and explore endless storage possibilities. Take it to the next level by adding crown and base molding and raised panel doors. 928 Springdale Drive, Exton, (610) 644-4143, closetsbydesign.com

Denim: Katye K Boutique

Katye K manages to make the unnerving task of finding the perfect pair of jeans a pleasant experience. The staff will recommend styles that flatter your assets and de-emphasize, well, what you need de-emphasized. And don’t leave without checking out the boutique’s “Be Green Recycle Your Jeans” section, where you can donate a pair and pick up a gently worn replacement from the likes of True Religion and Citizensof Humanity at a fraction of the original retail price. 510 Lancaster Ave., Haverford, (610) 525-5552, katyek.com

Framer: Framers Market Gallery
Keeping it in-house is a business formula that seems to work quite well for this onetime mom-and-pop shop that’s expanded into a two-store operation complete with its own 10,000-square-foot factory. The diverse selection of moldings suits any style, whether your artwork’s backdrop is sleek, contemporary or stone-barn rustic. Best of all, prices are low and turnaround is quick. Whiteland Towne Center, 195 W. Lincoln Highway, Exton, (610) 363-1371; 5028 West Chester Pike, Edgemont, (610) 356-1033; framersmarketgallery.com

Handcrafted Furniture: Origin & Ash
The hunt for one-of-a-kind furnishings for the home could easily begin and end here. All of owner T.R. Risk’s sustainable pieces are made from reclaimed lumber, vintage hardware and antique glass. He also makes house calls; many homeowners commission him to do custom installation projects. And Risk’s wife and business partner, Marcie, is an interior designer. What a duo. 876 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 527-6627, originandash.com

Home Accessories: Bittersweet Farm
Not many home stores are actually in a house, but Bittersweet Farm is the charming exception to the rule. Owner Jane Panasiti-Watkins has every room staged beautifully—custom furniture in the bedrooms, hand-loomed rugs in the living room, and custom floral centerpieces and tableware in the dining area. She’ll even make house calls to help infuse the Bittersweet aesthetic into your home. 8 Reese Ave., Newtown Square, (610) 355-1776, bittersweetfarmpa.com

Hostess Gifts: A Taste of Olive
This one-of-a-kind shop in West Chester stocks a variety of extra-virgin oils from Italy, Greece, Spain, Australia, Morocco and Tunisia, plus balsamic vinegars harvested in Modena, Italy. The Sampler Set features four of their most popular extra-virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars, including the tasty blood orange olive oil and pomegranate balsamic vinegar. 40 S. High St., West Chester, (610) 429-0292, atasteofolive.com

Makeup Artist: Julia Glikman at Mademoiselle Salon & Spa
Makeup artist extraordinaire Judy Glikman has the expertise to accentuate your best features and de-emphasize all the rest, resulting in a polished, flawless look. The private-brand mineral makeup line she uses is all natural and safe for a variety of skin types. 510 W. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (610) 525-8100

Modern Furniture: Dane Decor
Dane Decor’s Scandinavian inventory is as beautiful as it is easy to care for. Customize selections by choosing from a wide variety of fabrics, glass colors, wood types, etc. The furniture’s durable craftsmanship ensures longevity—and the company stands behind its product, offering a free 25-year warranty. Various locations, danedecor.com

Mother-Daughter Shopping: Just Girls and Elizabeth Maar Boutique
Mother-daughter shopping is twice the fun now that Elizabeth Maar has moved across the street and doubled in size to include its younger counterpart, Just Girls (already a hit in Newtown Square). The hip, sophisticated and not-too-racy teen boutique is wooing a whole new clientele with its ever-evolving inventory. Right now, you’ll find enamel and rhinestone jewelry from cc skye, oversized designer handbags, multi-colored maxi-dresses, ruffled dresses, and smocked halter and tunic tops. 390 Lancaster Ave., Haverford, (610) 649-7677; 3515 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, (610) 325-3731
 

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Shopping & Service (Critics)

Music Shop: Troubadour Music Shop
This pocket-size music store on the main drag in Wayne is a favorite with the after-school crowd, who lines up for lessons on everything from piano to violin (the only exceptions: no banjo or mandolin). There’s nothing fancy or intimidating about Troubadour. You’ll find free, friendly advice, a nice selection of basic acoustic and electric guitars, candy-colored ukuleles, and enough sheet music to inspire anyone to let their inner rock star shine. 125 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne, (610) 687-1721

Ed Heald of Wendell August Forge (Photo by Jared Castaldi)New Place to See Traditional Craftsmanship: Wendell August Forge
It’s a good bet that even if you somehow miss the clues—incessant hammering and traces of black smoke rising from the chimney—you’ll know how a metal forge operates after you visit the restored Ashbridge barn and see Wendell August’s skilled artisans working around a large hearth. Take a free tour, where you’ll learn how the company’s namesake pioneered the use of aluminum. Main Street at Exton, 103 Woodcutter St., Exton, (610) 363-2426, wendellaugust.com

New Women’s Boutique: Gramercy Boutique
Khaki Young knew what Main Line women wanted when she opened Gramercy Boutique last fall: fashion-forward clothes that are the perfect balance of reserved and trendy. Young fills the racks of her Spread Eagle Village shop with some of New York’s hottest names, including Dakota Martin, Kage Handbags and Tracy Reese. Just added: jewelry from acclaimed NYC designer Margo Morrison. 503 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 420-3074

Niche Photographer
: Celeste Giuliano
See story. Bala Cynwyd, (610) 220-7707, lunarlightstudios.com

Nightlife Attire: Blink
The clothes at Blink cover the three F’s: feminine, flirty and fun. Whether you’re looking for a fabulous dress or the perfect top to go with your best-fitting jeans, you’ll find it among top-selling lines like Holly Morgan, Jenny Han, Susana Monaco, Sky and Ella Moss. After all, why should hip moms have to dress older than they feel? 136 W. Gay St., West Chester, (610) 431-2212, shopblink.com

Person to Know When You’re Expecting: Shannon Choe of Premier Baby Concierge
Shannon Choe, mother of three and founder of Premier Baby Concierge, has made it her mission to make the journey into parenthood easier. She’ll help you create your baby registry, shop for maternity clothes, plan your baby shower, arrange for meals to be delivered, take care of pets while you’re in the hospital, and send birth announcements and thank-you cards. And she just launched Premier Sitter Services, which introduces parents to babysitters. (484) 716-4795, premierbabyconcierge.com

Place for Kids’ Birthday Parties: Young Sports
Let them run wild at the Main Line’s hippest indoor athletic center devoted to the under-13 crowd. Experienced professional coaches teach children sports basics and team-building skills during a one-hour clinic designed with age groups in mind. After class, kids dine on cake and ice cream in one of their classrooms. And parents can watch the fun from the overhead viewing balcony. 133 Sugartown Road, Wayne, (610) 687-2737, young-sports.com

Tango 411 Studio/Gallery in Media (Photo by Shane McCauley)Place to Add Global Flair to Your Home: Material Culture
For funky, one-of-a-kind, globally inspired finds you won’t see anywhere else, this is your resource. You’ll find beautifully crafted Mamluk, Khotan, Tibetan and Turkish carpets; antique Chinese furniture and Asian chests; hanging lanterns; garden accessories; copper dining and coffee tables; marble columns; and other architectural relics. Odds are slim to none that you’ll walk out empty handed. 4700 Wissahickon Ave., Philadelphia, (215) 849-8030, materialculture.com

Place to Beautify Like the Pros:
Beans Beauty

Arrive feeling like a crumpled dollar bill and leave feeling like a million bucks. That’s what we love about this one-stop beauty outlet. Stocked with a wide variety of hair, skin and beauty products from big and lesser-known names, Beans knows how to help you put your best face forward. There’s no hard sell, and with so many price points, you’ll never leave feeling like you had to settle for second best. Various locations, beansbeauty.com

Place to Dance Like a Star: Tango 411 Studio/Gallery
If all you want to do is dance, get yourself to this combination dance studio, social hall and art gallery in the heart of Media. It offers a fun, friendly atmosphere where the music is hot and the action is fast. Don’t fret if you have two left feet—Tango 411 offers lessons for beginners. If you’re up to speed, drop in on El Ocho Loco Thursday nights from 9 to midnight. 119 Gayley St., Media, (610) 565-0300, tango411.com

Place to Dress up Your Windows: The Curtain Exchange
Go ahead, keep telling yourself how much you like the light streaming into the house and the open, airy feeling of naked windows. Then turn to the Curtain Exchange, and revel in its gorgeous fabrics, fashionable designs, more than 100 styles of ready-to-hang draperies in stock (and access to 500 other fabrics), online assistance, and a 48-hour “live with them” policy. You’ll soon realize that you’ve been living a lie. Spread Eagle Village, 503 W. Lancaster Ave., Suite 520, Wayne, (610) 765-1142, thecurtainexchange.com

Inside the Wayne Art Center with Marybeth Hurley (Photo by Jared Castaldi)Place to Dress Your Kid Like a Main Liner: Peanut Butter & Jane
With adorable vintage skirts from Matilda & Company, poofy party dresses from Zuccini, and girly smocked dresses from Avavini, it’s no wonder that Main Line moms make Peanut Butter & Jane their first stop when they need just the right outfit for their little ones. And there’s plenty for the little guys, too—like colored khakis from City College and preppy polos from Wes & Willy. Spread Eagle Village, 503 W. Lancaster Ave., Suite 320, Wayne, (610) 254-9300, peanutbutternjane.com

Place to Dress Your Son for the Prom: Iacobucci Formal Wear

Few teenage boys relish the thought of putting on a monkey suit and a pair of dress shoes, but give them five minutes with the younger generation at this Main Line mainstay, and they’ll be proud to show off their new threads. Now that you’ve turned your son into a clotheshorse, you’ll no doubt have to up his allowance. In the meantime, you can save a few bucks on a rental with the generous discount Iacobucci’s has worked out with your school. 107 W. Eagle Road, Havertown, (610) 449-1212, iacobuccitux.com

Place to Find the Perfect Seat: Just Chairs & Tables
Finding the perfect throne for you kitchen counter or dining room table can be a tricky endeavor. Luckily, there’s Just Chairs & Tables. For the past 33 years, this store has been dressing up Main Line’s kitchens and dining rooms with the latest looks for far less than its competitors. With more than 150 stools on display, plus casual and formal dining room sets, hutches and buffets, you’ll find everything you need. 333 W. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (610) 896-5155, justchairsandtables.net

Place to Indulge Your Inner Monet: Wayne Art Center
Established in 1930, the oldest art center on the Main Line is midway through a four-phase expansion. Classes in pottery, painting, jewelry making and more are taught by professional artists and held in large, light-filled classrooms. Exhibit and performance spaces round out the facilities. You have to join to take classes—but in return, you’ll enjoy excellent instructors, diverse subject matter, discounts on trips, and lectures. 413 Maplewood Ave., Wayne, (610) 688-3553, wayneart.org

All-Star Baseball Academy (Photo by Carlos Alejandro)Place to Pamper Your Pooch: Dogma Premier Dog Spa
If Dogma Premier Dog Spa sounds like a place where you might like to spend the day (instead of your pooch), it’s no surprise. The former ice cream store offers and array of creature comforts, including an underwater treadmill, fluffy towels, nifty bejeweled collars and doggy facials. Pampered pooches are spruced up by Dogma’s skilled groomers, and the injured or elderly benefit from Dogma’s resident rehab veterinarian. There’s even daycare. 105 N. Aberdeen Ave., Wayne, (610) 341-3647, dogmadogspa.com

Place to Train Your Kid to Be the Next Chase Utley: All-Star Baseball Academy
Since its inception back in 1998, All-Star Baseball Academy has helped 300 high school players reach the college level, with a number of those winding up in the majors. Last year alone, 24 seniors went on to play Division I college baseball. With group or private instruction, kids hone their skills in pitching, hitting, catching and fielding. Various locations, allstarbaseballacademy.com

Wagsworth Manor in Malvern (Photo by Shane McCauley)Pool for Pets: Wagsworth Manor
They can’t guarantee Fido will learn the backstroke, but the good folks at this luxury pet resort will make sure he gets to dog-paddle to his heart’s content in their specially designed indoor pool. Wide steps run the width of the pool, so even the smallest canine can enjoy a dip. No word yet on the kitty hot tub. 27 Spring Mill Drive, Malvern, (610) 251-9247, wagsworthmanor.com

Printer: Professional Duplicating
No matter the printing, copying or graphic design task—everything from invitations and designer napkins to promotional letterhead and yo-yos—ProDupe’s saavy staff draws from 30-plus years of industry know-how to create clean, noticeably superior products. 33 E. State St., Media, (610) 891-7979, 866 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 520-1234; produpe.com

Shop for Lovers of the Great Outdoors: Out There Outfitters
Outdoor enthusiasts make regular stops at Out There Outfitters to shop for the latest clothing, footwear and accessories for adults and kids. The knowledgeable salespeople—all outdoorsy types—are more than willing to educate customers on the ins and outs of brands such as Patagonia, Horny Toad, Arc’teryx, Mountain Hardware, Maui Jim, Barbour and many more. 123 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne, (610) 688-6383, outthereoutfitters.com

Pants in Bryn Mawr (Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli)Shop for the Well-dressed Man: Pants
Owner Jon Segal is extremely selective in the lines and styles he features, focusing on what he defines as “Friday-Monday and casual workday wear.” You’ll find tailored dress shirts from Philly-based Commonwealth Proper and slacks from Theory, along with designer jeans from Citizens of Humanity and AG, polo shirts from Splendid Mills, surf shorts from Relwen, and button-downs from Just a Cheap Shirt. 931 Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 527-6900, shop-pants.com

Shopping Perk: Wardrobe Revamping at Malena’s Unique Boutique
If you love vintage (and vintage-inspired) clothing and you’ve never been to Malena’s, you’re missing out. Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Steady, Sourpuss, Bang Bang Baby and Nicole Rae Styer are just some of the names you’ll find at this very au courant shop. Of course, not all of us can work our closets the way Malena Martinez can, which is why her wardrobe consulting business (a deal at $50/hour) is taking off. Her mission: update, coordinate and eliminate—all to fit your budget and lifestyle. 145 W. Gay St., West Chester, (610) 738-9952, malenasboutique.com

Sporting Goods: City Sports
Whatever the activity, City Sports has the gear—everything from running shoes and tennis racquets to the latest styles from Billabong, Quicksilver, Nike, Northface and other top brands. And lest you feel overwhelmed by the inventory on its two expansive floors, the friendly, knowledgeable staff will help narrow the many options to best fit your needs and budget. Suburban Square, 51 St. Georges Road, Ardmore, (610) 649-7497, citysports.com

Sunglasses: Starry Eyed Optical
Just because a pair of shades look hot on your favorite Hollywood star doesn’t mean they’re going to look great on you. That’s why you need Starry Eyed Optical’s Amy Bullock. She’ll pick the styles, sizes and colors that best match your face, choosing from among the latest frames by Dior, Oliver Peoples, Francois Pinton and others. 5 E. State St., Media, (484) 443-8396, starryeyedoptical.com

Sweet Wedding Favors: JustWrapz
JustWrapz starts with one of its homemade chocolate bars, wrapping it in sophisticated, personalized packaging complete with a satin or grosgrain ribbon color-coordinated to your event. Customize your favor with initials or a birthday or anniversary message. JustWrapz also offers smaller-sized bars that as an alternative to place cards. And did we mention that they not only look delicious but taste delicious, too? (610) 986-3802, justwrapz.com

Unique Lighting: Simply Cottage
Lighting is the hot commodity at this shabby chic-meets-Pottery Barn home boutique. Along with fine linens, whimsical art and other furnishings, it carries an eclectic selection of new and vintage lighting. Whether it’s petite chandeliers for the dressing room, larger fixtures for the front hall, or table lamps and funky globes for the den, you’ll find it here. 367 W. Lancaster Ave., Haverford, (610) 642-2905, simplycottage.com

Valet
: MedPark
Forget the unexplained dents and jerky attendants. MedPark’s first rule of business is service, service, service. Detail-oriented, punctual and eager to please, the 14-year-old company has earned its loyal following. It even provides driver and emergency assistance like dead-battery jumps and windshield and headlight cleaning. 1380 Bartlett Road, Wayne, (610) 647-3130, medparkcorp.com

Wedding Florist
: Petah Bashano at Alvins Flowers
Petah Bashano is in high demand among brides-to-be—and his talents don’t end with floral design. With a background in fashion, he has impeccable taste and an eye for what looks simply fabulous. He’s an expert at orchestrating every detail, ensuring a cohesive look—from invitations to place cards. Lawrence Park Shopping Center, 1991 Sproul Road, Broomall, (610) 356-7300, alvinsflowers.com

Women’s Accessories
: Knit Wit
Finish off that new outfit with a Sissi Rossi Italian leather handbag, Il Bisonte leather clutch, or maybe a beaded purse from Moyna. Knit Wit also stocks plenty of chunky bangles, funky belts and hip scarves. We couldn’t take our eyes off the display cases filled with estate jewelry from Narberth’s A. Brandt & Son—including fabulous cocktail rings and antique 18-karat-gold bracelets. 905 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (484) 592-0576, knitwitonline.com

Women’s Shoes
: Vivi G. Shoes
No need to run to a major department store to find designer names like Claudia Ciuti, Beverly Feldman, French Sole New York and Michael Kors. Vivi G. is the go-to place for high-end footwear for all occasions, from Juicy Couture flip-flops to Bagley Mischka’s Platinum Collection for brides. Accessories include Lauren Merkin clutches, Rebecca Minkoff handbags and Alexis Bittar jewelry. 587 Wilmington-West Chester Pike, Glen Mills, (610) 459-5848, vivigshoes.com
 

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Health & Beauty (Critics)


Bike Trail: Southern Section of Perkiomen Trail

Avid cyclists are well aware of this 5-mile hidden secret from Oaks to Collegeville. A pedaler’s paradise, the 10-foot-wide, multi-use paved/unpaved path weaves blissfully in and out of sun and shade along the Perkiomen Creek, with grass shoulders for most of the length. Praise and thanks to the Montgomery County Department of Parks for the quality upkeep. (610) 278-3736, montcopa.org/parks/perkiomentrail

Body Treatments
: Joseph Anthony Retreat Spa and Salon
You’ll want to work your way through each of the signature spa treatments on the menu at Joseph Anthony Retreat Spa and Salon. We’re fans of all the spa’s luxurious pampering, but we’re partial to the soft-pack float, which starts with a full-body exfoliation with your choice of scent (try the Chocolate Butter Crème Melt). The float itself is like relaxing in a warm cocoon. 243 W. Baltimore Pike, Glen Mills, (610) 459-4663, josephanthony.com

Camp for Budding Donovan McNabbs: Andy Talley Villanova Football Camp
For the past 25 years, motivated young football players have set aside a week in summer for the camp run by head Villanova football coach Andy Talley. No matter their age or skill level, they’ll undoubtedly benefit from the invaluable pointers provided by the talented squad of high school and college coaches. Camp size is limited to 350 kids, so everyone gets plenty of one-on-one attention. Villanova University, 800 Lancaster Ave., Villanova, (800) 237-CATS, athletics.villanova.edu/footballcamp

Decadent Pedicures: Currie Hair, Skin & Nails
We foolishly thought all pedicures were decadent. Then we experienced Currie’s shea butter pedicure, with its fragrant essential oils and soufflé lotions in chocolate mint, lavender, milk and honey, and other scents. Combine this with a soothing soak, a complete exfoliation, a lower leg and foot massage, and a pristine polish, and you’ve found pedicure nirvana. Glen Eagle Shopping Center, 585 Wilmington-West Chester Pike, Glen Mills, (610) 558-4247, curriedayspa.com

Eyebrow Wax: Lisa Granata at John Andrews Salon
It takes the eyes of an expert to know what brow shape works best for each face. At John Andrews Salon, it’s Lisa Granata, who never rushes, taking the time to shape an arch with precision. Many of her clients are opting to have their brows and lashes tinted, which makes the eyes pop. 27 West Ave., Wayne, (610) 688-6811

Facials: Zsuzsanna’s Salon
Owner Zsuzsanna Nagy and her fabulous staff at Zsuzsanna’s Salon specialize in European facials using all-natural products from faraway places like Switzerland and Hungary. Nagy’s signature facial, the Ilike Paprika, uses products from the extravagant Ilike Paulscerri line to rejuvenate skin with a thorough cleansing, exfoliation and extraction of impurities—topped off with a nourishing masque that aids in smoothing fine lines. 241 Conestoga Road, Suite A, Wayne, (610) 688-3969, zsuzsannasalon.com

Facials for Teens: Facelogic
Facelogic’s Teen Facial includes deep-pore cleansing, extractions, exfoliation and a treatment mask while focusing on the needs of young skin with a customized touch. Over-stressed clients will love the relaxing therapeutic massage that’s included. 4829 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, (610) 353-1232, facelogicspa.com

Hair Stylist: Traviss Kraisoraphong at NoelSy Art & Beauty
Simply put, Traviss Kraisoraphong is a shear genius, eschewing trends in favor of finding the perfect cut for your hair texture and face shape. His blowouts, too, are nothing short of spectacular, lasting for days. 321 Montgomery Ave., Bala Cynwyd, (610) 667-8777

Hot Yoga Classes: Dana Hot Yoga
The yoga craze is hotter than ever at Dana, where the rooms are a toasty 95 degrees. The 90-minute session offers a full-body workout that covers strength, flexibility and cardio as it engages the mind. Instructors guide you through each pose, offering pointers on how to adapt the technique to your skill level. 244-246 Bala Ave., Bala Cynwyd, (267) 974-9805, danahotyoga.com

House Cleaners
: Busy Bee Cleaning Co.
If your mantra is “A clean home is a happy home” or “Life is for living, not cleaning,” Busy Bee agrees. The trusty, trained specialists don’t just dust, mop and polish their way through kitchens, bathrooms and common areas; they deep clean from carpet to chandelier. Other invaluable services include leather furniture conditioning and cleaning for special occasions and moving day. Phew! West Chester, (610) 430-6888, busybeecleaningcompany.com

Neighborhood Nail Salon: Main Line Nails
Sometimes you need a no-muss, no-fuss mani-pedi. Opened seven days a week (convenient hours and walk-ins welcome), Main Line Nails may be quick and convenient, but they don’t skimp on quality. Various locations, mainlinenails.com
 

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Health & Beauty (Critics)

Park for Kids: Fenimore Woods
A favorite of the 5-and-under group, this newer park has a pint-sized play area for younger children and a larger play set for older children. Not too sunny, the park is nestled in the woods near Eastern and Cabrini colleges. Make sure to pack a lunch to enjoy under the covered picnic area and let your little explorer wander the nature trail around the duck pond—just watch out for the geese. Eagle and Paul roads, Wayne, (610) 688-5600

Personal Trainers: Vertex Fitness Personal Training Studio
It’s not enough to just show up at the gym and go through the motions. You need to bring a little game and check the whining at the door. And don’t even think about doing it wrong, or you’ll be pushing 20—extra pounds, that is. And whether you’re working out with owner Dwayne Wimmer or one of the other trainers on his staff, you’ll get it right—and get results. 24 N. Merion Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 525-6604, vertexfit.com

Philly Fitness Craze to Hit the Main Line: Lithe Method
Last winter, Lauren Boggi opened an intimate boutique studio in Dr. Louis Bucky’s Ardmore office, bringing the famed Lithe Method regime to the Main Line. And while the names of the classes may sound frivolous—“Skinny Jeans,” “A-List Abs,” “Arm-istice”—the workouts are anything but, burning fat, sculpting muscle and shaping problem areas with remarkable efficiency. 200 W. Montgomery Ave., Ardmore, (215) 545-5144, lithemethod.com

Pilates Instructor for Expectant Mommies
: Kelly McBride of Belly Pilates, Inc.
Kelly McBride is the only master Pilates instructor of pre/postpartum pilates in the Tri-State region. Her classes are intimate—usually no more than eight clients—so she can provide individualized attention throughout the workout. She’ll even make hospital or at-home visits, so you can continue your workouts right away. (610) 608-5883, bellypilates.com

Pilates Studio: Symmetry Pilates Yoga Studio
Joey McLaughlin and her team are dedicated to making sure each client has a positive, beneficial Pilates experience. They’re patient with newcomers, and they never hesitate to challenge veterans with advanced moves. The studio offers both mat and machine (reformer) classes, depending on client preference. And because not everyone can spring for one-on-one training, Symmetry offers duet and triplet sessions so friends can workout together at a lower cost. 18 N. Church St., West Chester, (610) 431-8990, symmetrypilatesyoga.com

Place to Get Your Kids Off the Couch and Moving: Youth and Teen Wellness Center at Upper Main Line YMCA
UMLY’s Youth and Teen Wellness Center has a staff of dedicated fitness experts with access to cardio, strength-training equipment and exer-gaming (think Wii Fit). Children ages 10-14 are taught the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle and including exercise in their daily routine—invaluable tips that will last a lifetime. 1416 Berwyn-Paoli Road, Berwyn, (610) 249-9622, umly.org

Pre-Wedding Pampering: Onde Spalon
Onde Spalon’s spacious spa can comfortably accommodate brides-to-be, friends and family for bachelorette parties, bridal showers or a day at the spa. Indulge in the Bridal Path package, with a full-body Swedish massage, a spa manicure and pedicure, and a professional makeup and bridal hairstyle. 224 S. Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, (610) 356-4378, ondespalon.com

Salon Customer Service
: Jude Plum Co. Salon & Spa
Jude Plum and his staff treat every client that walks through the doors like royalty. For years, he has catered to cancer patients, with private rooms for consultations and attractive, natural-looking wigs cut and styled to the client’s specifications. 821 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 527-1770, judeplumsalon.com

Self-Tanning Treatment: Mineral Scrub with Body Bronzing at Toppers Spa/Salon
The mineral scrub with body bronzing is one of the most requested treatments at Toppers. A salt scrub leaves the skin silky smooth before technicians apply bronzer by hand for a healthy, golden glow you’ll be dying to show off in a sexy tank or sundress. 745 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 989-9660, toppersspa.com

Spa Boutique: Polished Spa & Boutique
Marina Selverian’s Polished Spa & Boutique is known for its ultra-fabulous manicures and pedicures, and its reputation for perfection. Also worthy of recognition is the spa’s boutique, stocked with everything from soy candles and ornate frames to luxurious Italian lingerie, cashmere robes and tanks from Dana Pisarra. 221 Conestoga Road, Wayne, (610) 688-4181, thepolishedspa.com

Workout Classes: Focus Fitness of the Main Line
The combo classes at this new boutique exercise studio are unlike anything else in the area. The YES class offers 30 minutes of spinning, followed by a half-hour of yoga, so you reap the benefits of intense cardio before stretching tight muscles with specific poses. If you’re up for a real challenge, try SAS, a 45-minute spin class, plus 30 minutes of strength and conditioning. 1111 E. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 525-5515, focusfitnessml.com

Yoga Studio: RYAH Yoga and Health
At RYAH Yoga and Health classes are offered for all levels, whether you’ve never stepped on a mat or you consider yourself a true yogi. Instructors guide you through poses in an encouraging, nonjudgmental manner. Along with yoga, this tranquil spot offers massage, nutritional counseling, Pilates and a range of alternative medicine. 424 E. Elm St., Conshohocken, (610) 834-1551, ryahyoga.com
 

Media, Sports, Culture, Trends, Etc. (Critics) on page 12 …
 

Media, Sports, Culture, Trends, Etc. (Critics)


Children’s Theater Series: Media Theatre for the Performing Arts

This season’s kid-friendly lineup has featured Blue’s Clues Live, Ebenezer (an adaptation of the classic A Christmas Carol), Honk! Jr. (a contemporary musical version of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Ugly Duckling), the classic fairy tale Cinderella and Willy Wonka Jr. And for the child who wants to be more than a spectator, Media Theatre offers a Broadway camp, where young thespians study acting, music and choreographed movement with professional directors, performers and technicians. 104 E. State St., Media, (610) 891-0100, mediatheatre.org

Green Town: Narberth
When it comes to living green, Narberth puts its neighbors to shame—although they’d prefer to call it “leading by example.” The community-based Narberth Greens initiative holds events throughout the year, including the Darby Creek Clean Up, Narberth Birdwalk, sustainability symposiums, and a flower and vegetable swap. Its website is maintained on a computer that’s powered by 100-percent wind energy, and it even includes an online Green Guide, so no one in this earth-friendly borough need go uninformed. narberthgreens.org

Local Blog: Justsnarky
See story. justsnarky.blogspot.com

Main Liner with Spirit: Bobby Mansure of the Eagles Pep Band
Every time you hear the “Eagles Fight Song,” remember that Main Liner Bobby Mansure had a little something to do with it. He was the one who formed the Eagles Pep Band, which resurrected the tune and made it the hit with fans it is today. Composed of Mansure and three other fans, the group plays before games and on the radio. They’ve even been hired to perform at wedding receptions. (Why are we not surprised?) eaglespepband.com

Moment We’d Like to See Again: The Phillies Winning the World Series

Phillies fans are still pinching themselves after the team’s long-awaited World Series win over the Tampa Bay Rays in October of last year. When pitcher Brad Lidge fell to his knees after his last strikeout of 2008, no doubt every Main Liner with a pulse knew how he felt. The rush was simply intoxicating, and the ensuing victory parade epic. (Can we see that replay one more time, please?) philadelphiaphillies.com

The Julia Fowler Planetarium at Eastern University (Photo by Carlos Alejandro)Philadelphia Export: PhillyCarShare on the Main Line
Among Volvos and Land Rovers, “car sharing” doesn’t seem like a concept that would ever really fly. But for the car-less drivers who do, in fact, live among us, the arrival of PhillyCarShare onto the verdant college campuses of the Main Line is a welcome sight. The Philly-based group combines crunchy nonprofit collectivism with an acute awareness that, even for the greenest lovers of foot or mass transit, sometimes nothing but a car will do. (215) 730-0988, phillycarshare.org

Place to Ponder the Heavens: Julia Fowler Planetarium at Eastern University
Tucked away on the bucolic campus of Eastern College, the digital, full-dome Julia Fowler Planetarium offers stunning views of the night sky. And while the staff is dedicated to teaching most of the year, they do develop special shows that run for three weekends each season. 1300 Eagle Road, St. Davids, (610) 341-1390, eastern.edu, planet@eastern.edu

Place to Rub Shoulders with Rock Stars and Bam Margera: The Note
See story. 142 E. Market St., West Chester, thenotewc.com
 

Readers Poll on page 13 …
 

Food & Drink (Readers)

Appetizers: Glenmorgan Bar & Grill
593 E. Lancaster Ave., St. Davids, (610) 341-3188, glenmorgan.com

Bagels: Bagel Factory
511 Old Lancaster Road, Suite 4, Berwyn, (610) 647-7747

Bakery: D’Innocenzo’s Pastries
389 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 687-6580

Bartender: Mike Shea at 333 Belrose
333 Belrose Lane, Radnor, (610) 293-1000, 333belrose.com

Birthday Cakes: Clay’s Creative Corner Bakery
700 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, (610) 647-2119, claysbakery.net

Bottled Beer Selection: The Drafting Room
635 N. Pottstown Pike, Exton, (610) 363-0521, draftingroom.com

Breakfast: Nudy’s West Side Café
490 Lancaster Ave., Frazer, (610) 722-9588

Brunch: Desmond Hotel & Conference Center
One Liberty Blvd., Malvern, (610) 296-9800, desmondgv.com

Burger: Great American Pub
4 West Ave., Wayne, (610) 964-9535, greatamericanpub.com

BYO: Blackfish
119 Fayette St., Conshohocken, (610) 397-0888, blackfishrestaurant.com

BYO in Philadelphia: La Fontana Della Citta
1701 Spruce St., Philadelphia, (215) 875-9990, lafontanadellacitta.com

Caterer: J. Scott Catering
189 Pennsylvania Ave., Malvern, (610) 725-9420, jscottcatering.com

Cheesesteaks: Pepper Mill
Route 352 and Paoli Pike, East Goshen, (610) 692-0100

Chef: Nick Farina at Blush
24 N. Merion Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 527-7700, dineatblush.com

Cocktails: Half Moon Restaurant & Saloon
108 W. State St., Kennett Square, (610) 444-7232, halfmoonrestaurant.com

Coffeehouse: Gryphon Café
105 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 688-1988, gryphoncafe.com

Deli: Michael’s Restaurant & Delicatessen
Valley Forge Center, 130 Town Center Road, King of Prussia, (610) 265-3265, michaelsdeli.com

Diner: Minella’s Diner
320 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 687-1575, minellasdiner.com

Draft Beer Selection: Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
Various locations, ironhillbrewery.com

Ethnic Cuisine: Margaret Kuo’s
175 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 688-7200, margaretkuos.com

Family Place: Ruby’s Diner
Various locations, rubys.com

Gourmet Grocery: FoodSource 663 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 581-7209, afoodsource.com

Gourmet Meals to Go: Carlino’s Specialty Foods & Catering
128 W. Market St., West Chester, (610) 696-3788, carlinosmarket.com

Gourmet Pizza: Peace A Pizza
Various locations, peacepizza.com

Happy Hour: 333 Belrose
333 Belrose Lane, Wayne, (610) 293-1000, 333belrose.com

Hoagies: Antonella’s Italian Kitchen
841 Conestoga Road, Rosemont, (610) 526-1966, antonellaskitchen.com

Housemade Desserts: Black Lab Bistro & Bakery
248 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 935-5988, blacklabbistro.net

Ice Cream: Handels
576 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, (610) 640-1606, handelsicecream.com

Microbrew: Victory
420 Acorn Lane, Downingtown, (610) 873-0881, victorybeer.com

Neighborhood Bar/Tavern: Casey’s Ale House
543 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, (610) 644-5086, caseysberwyn.com

New Restaurant: A La Maison
Bistro 53 W. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (484) 412-8009, alamaisonbistro.com

New Restaurant in Philadelphia: Butcher & Singer
1500 Walnut St., Philadelphia, (215) 732-4444, butcherandsinger.com

Place for Kids: Christopher’s
108 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne, (610) 687-6558, christophersaneighborhoodplace.com

Power Lunch: General Warren Inne
16 Village Way, Malvern, (610) 296-3637, generalwarren.com

Prix-Fixe Menu: Fayette Street Grille
308 Fayette St., Conshohocken, (610) 567-0366, fayettestreetgrille.com

Restaurant Bar: Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
555 E. Lancaster Ave., Radnor, (610) 688-9463, flemingssteakhouse.com

Seafood: Bonefish Grill
4889 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, (610) 355-1784, bonefishgrill.com

Steakhouse: Sullivan’s
700 West Dekalb Pike, King of Prussia, (610) 878-9025, sullivansteakhouse.com

Sushi: Kooma
151 W. Gay St., West Chester, (610) 430-8980, gokoomarestaurant.com

Traditional Pizza: Vic & Dean’s Pizzeria
409 W. Wayne Ave., Wayne, (610) 225-0025

Vegetarian Dishes: Shere-E-Punjab Indian Restaurant
208 W. State St., Media, (610) 891-0400

Water Ice: Rita’s
Various locations, ritasice.com

Wine List: Dilworthtown Inn
1390 Old Wilmington Pike, West Chester, (610) 399-1390, dilworthtown.com
 

Shopping & Service (Readers) on page 14 …
 

Shopping & Service (Readers)

Nurture baby boutique in Ardmore (Photo by Carlos Alejandro)Baby Boutique: Nurture
19 W. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (610) 649-0424, shopnurture.com

Bookstore: Borders
Various locations, borders.com

Bridal Boutique: The Wedding Shoppe
503 W. Lancaster Ave., Suite 110, Wayne, (610) 293-1299, wedding-shoppe.com

Bridal Registry: Bed Bath & Beyond
Various locations, bedbathandbeyond.com

Clothing for Kids: Janie and Jack
Suburban Square, 8 Coulter Ave., Ardmore, (610) 645-5565, janieandjack.com

Clothing for Teens: Urban Outfitters
Various locations, urbanoutfitters.com

Clothing for Men: Englund’s Apparel for Men
115 W. King St., Malvern, (610) 644-9315, englundsapparel.com

Consignment Shop: Bryn Mawr Hospital Thrift Shop
818 Glenbrook Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 526-2994

Florist: Accents by Michele
4003 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, (610) 356-5683, accentsbymichele.com

Garden Accessories: Waterloo Gardens
200 N. Whitford Road, Exton, (610) 363-0800; 136 Lancaster Ave., Devon, (610) 293-0800; waterloogardens.com

Home Furnishings and Accessories: Sheffield Furniture and Interiors
211 E. King St., Malvern, (610) 644-7450, sheffieldfurniture.com

Party Band: JellyRoll
114 Commons Court, Chadds Ford, (610) 358-9010, brandywinevalleytalent.com

Party DJ: David Frank Entertainment
700 W. Haverford Road, Bryn Mawr, (610) 520-7300, davidfrankdj.com

Place for Private Parties/Receptions: Drexelbrook Catering & Banquet Facility
4700 Drexelbrook Drive, Drexel Hill, (610) 259-7000, drexelbrookcatering.com

Teen Clothing: Justice for Girls
Various locations, shopjustice.com

Women’s Clothing: Ellie
503 W. Lancaster Ave., Strafford, (610) 293-6822, ellieboutique.com

Women’s Evening Attire: Tancreeds
1 E. State St., Media, (610) 566-2300

 

 Health & Beauty (Readers) and Media, Sports, Culture, Trends, Etc. (Readers) on page 15 …
 

Health & Beauty (Readers)


Day Spa
: Harmonia Healing Arts Spa
411 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 688-1007, harmoniaspa.com

Hair Salon: La Difference Salon and Day Spa
830 Paoli Pike, West Chester, (610) 429-1808, ladifferencesalon.com

Health Club: Main Line Health & Fitness
931 E. Haverford Road, Bryn Mawr, (610) 527-2200, mlhf.com

Health Program for Kids: Healthplex Sports Club
194 W. Sproul Road, Springfield, (610) 328-8888, crozer.org

Park: Ridley Creek State Park
dcnr.state.pa.us

  

Media, Sports, Culture, Trends, Etc. (Readers)


Phillies pitcher and part-time West Chester resident Cole Hamels, with wife Heidi (Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli)Local Pro Sports Celebrity: Chase Utley
Philadelphia Phillies, phillies.com

News-Talk Radio Station: 91 WHYY-FM
whyy.org

Pro Coach: Charlie Manuel
Philadelphia Phillies, phillies.com

Pro Sports Team: Philadelphia Phillies
phillies.com

Radio Morning Show: Preston & Steve Show
93.3 WMMR-FM, prestonandsteve.com

Radio Music DJ: Debbie Calton
102.9 WMGK-FM, wmgk.com

Radio Station for Music: 95.7 Ben FM
957benfm.com

Radio Talk Show Host: Michael Smerconish
1210 WPHT-AM, mastalk.com

Radio Station for News Talk: KYW News Radio
kyw1060.com

Sports Radio Personality: Angelo Cataldi
610 WIP-AM, 610wip.com

TV News Anchor: Jim Gardner
6 ABC, abclocal.go.com/wpvi

TV Sportscaster: Vai Sikehema
NBC 10, nbc10.com

TV Weatherperson: Glenn “Hurricane” Schwartz
NBC 10, nbc10.com
 

Web Picks on page 16 …
 

Places! Bistro  (Photo by Heidi Reuter)Web Picks (Readers)

Winners from our online ballot.

Dive Bar: The Greeks
239 Haverford Ave., Narberth, (610) 664-8655, narberthpa.com

Local Blog: Musings of a Housewife
musingsofahousewife.com

Local Produce: Ardmore Farmers Market
6 Coulter Ave., Ardmore, (610) 896-7560

Outdoor Dining: Places! Bistro
39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, (610) 647-8060, placesbistro.com

Place for Antiques: Nannygoat Antiques
301 Haverford Ave., Narberth, nannygoatalley.com

Place for a Wedding Reception: The Farmhouse at People’s Light & Theatre Company
39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, (610) 647-1631, peopleslightfarmhouse.com

Place to Dine Alone: Du Jour
379 Lancaster Ave., Haverford, (610) 896-4556, dujourmarket.com

Tailor: Bala Cleaners & Tailors
48 Bala Ave., Bala Cynwyd, (610) 668-2885

Yoga Classes: Verge Yoga
250 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 971-0518, vergepoweryoga.com

 

Featured Profiles on page 17 …  
 

Celeste Giuliano (Photo by Shane McCauley)

A Leg Up

By the time 1950s pinup queen Bettie Page died late last year at age 85, she’d spawned several books and the 2006 biographical movie The Notorious Bettie Page. The generous curves she displayed in photographs for public consumption signaled a G-rated vitality—even in a leopard-print bikini.

For women seeking to change their spots, if only for a few hours, Celeste Giuliano (Best Niche Photographer) offers an escape from the humdrum. Whether to stoke romantic embers, snare a Hollywood agent, or simply boost the ego, subjects pin their desires on a studio session that produces eye-popping results.

And everything is legal. Cheesecake, yes; cheesy, no. Her teasing but tasteful shots that range from burlesque to Betty Grable. Giuliano also creates screen sirens (Rita Hayworth, Veronica Lake) and film noir ambiance thanks to stylized makeup, wardrobe and props.

Such classic poses are part of Giuliano’s artistic fiber and personal heritage. Her grandfather, a men’s fashion designer, apparently had more on his mind than cuffs and collars. “He loved all things vintage, and had a collection of pinup calendars on the wall of his office,” says the Havertown native and graduate of Notre Dame Academy in Villanova. “We used to draw together.”

If Giuliano inherited granddad’s eye for shape and style, the University of the Arts sharpened it. After completing a BFA in photography in 2001, she hired out as a newspaper photo editor and continued the freelance work she’d started years earlier. Her specialization in pinups happened rather by accident in 2003. Seeking to expand her portrait portfolio, Giuliano pitched a concept to the Preston & Steve Show (then on Y100, now at WMMR) and its “Philly’s Hottest” contest (moms, secretaries, waitresses, etc.). How about a pinup calendar of the winners?

“I needed models, and I thought this would be a great collaboration,” Giuliano says.

The calendar never made it to print, but Y100 posted Giuliano’s pictures online and publicized her work. She quickly learned that there were lots of local ladies pining to be pinups. A new generation of Bettie Pages beat a path to the Overbrook Farms studio space Giuliano shares with her illustrator husband, David Seidman. “I never imagined people would want to come in for that,” says Giuliano.

To boost their husbands’ morale, a few Army wives recently drove in from Reading and posed. One donned military-style outfits for her photo shoot on the eve of her first wedding anniversary. “I knew I wanted to do it for my husband,” says Cara Sharp, seven months after Sgt. Joel Sharp’s deployment to Iraq.

Her cancer in remission, Heather Rossi wanted to celebrate. With a little help from Giuliano, she transformed herself from patient to pinup. “I needed a day without doctors poking me,” says the New Jersey resident.

Giuliano’s photos may capture a kind of lighthearted allure, their potency shouldn’t be underestimated. “One guy ordered up a session [for his girlfriend], and proposed to her right then and there,” says Giuliano.

Testimony to the power of the pinup.

—Jim Waltzer

Featured Profiles continued on page 18 …  
 

Bam Margera (Photo by Shane McCauley)Understanding Bam

Forget everything you’ve heard about Bam Margera, West Chester’s not-so-golden boy and celeb about town. That’s assuming you actually know who the guy is.

For those who might not, Margera is a 29-year-old pro skateboarder, television and movie personality, music video producer, radio talk-show host, and local club owner. He’s perhaps most notorious for his infamous prankster exploits on MTV’s Jackass and Viva La Bam. The ultimate class clown, Margera has never been afraid to do the dirty work for those of us who don’t have the nerve.

Away from the cameras, it’s a different story. Get him next to his wife, Missy, and he’s a puppy dog.

“People think they know me, but they’re a little confused,” says Margera. “I’ve had fans come up to me and reenact pranks they’ve seen me do—except I’m the victim—and they’re put off when I don’t react positively or play the role. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fans. But when I’m not on camera, I’m not the guy you see on TV.”

Missy balances him out perfectly. She’s pretty, charming and gentle, but she’s also strong—and she isn’t overly impressed with life in the limelight. When they’re not traveling, the couple—whose marriage was documented on MTV—typically chills with a good meal and a DVD. Then there’s The Note, the live music club Margera opened in downtown West Chester last fall (Best Place to Rub Shoulders with Rock Stars and Bam Margera). Winning over West Chester’s business community took some patience, as the more staunch policymakers set out to portray Margera as, well, the wild guy pulling those outrageous stunts on TV and the big screen.

“I just remember this older guy holding up these crazy pictures of me, working very hard to convince everyone in the room that I was a degenerate looking to bring sin and recklessness to the borough,” Margera recalls. “I had to remind him that it’s in my contract to do these things.”

But Margera won over the skeptics. The Note is open seven days a week until 2 a.m., serving up good food and drink (including a solid selection of local brews), along with a mixed bag of musical acts that appeal to a wide age range. It helps support a musical addiction that also includes Filthy Note Records (filthynote.com), a label that also affords him the opportunity to direct music videos. He has a scholarship in place at his alma mater, West Chester East High School, which awards $5,000 to the student who makes the best short film.

Next up for Margera: Spike TV’s Bam’s World Domination, a show that highlights offbeat pseudo-sporting events around the world, and (if the West Chester School District approves) an MTV reality show that has him returning to high school. Margera left in 10th grade, but something tells us he’ll be welcomed back with open arms.

—Dawn E. Warden

Featured Profiles continued on page 19 …  
 

Todd S. Chusid of Johnnie's Dog House (Photo by Shane McCauley)

Top Dog

Think of Todd S. Chusid as the Henry Higgins of the hot dog world. Just as the linguistic expert of My Fair Lady could peg Eliza Doolittle’s neighborhood by her Cockney brogue, the founder and CEO of Johnnie’s Dog House (Best Local Treat Gone National), can nail, with some accuracy, your home turf by the type of frank you order.

Spicy mustard and onions light your fire? You’re a New Yorker. Baked beans and chopped onions? You must be from Beantown. Coleslaw and chili? That could put you anywhere from central South Carolina to southern Mississippi.

This encyclopedic knowledge comes to Chusid compliments of a long career traveling the world for management consulting firm KPMG. At every stop, he sampled the local fare, soaking up topping types and cataloging combinations. Work eventually drew the Manhattan native to Philadelphia, where he lived in Rittenhouse Square, then out to the Main Line. His dream of bringing a retail version of his own hot dog heaven to the masses was realized in 2004, when the first Johnnie’s Dog House opened in Wayne.

Since 2007, Chusid has been quietly expanding, offering franchises to entrepreneurs across the country. The Johnnie’s experience is now available to diners as far away as Louisiana and the state of Washington. So far, Chusid has sold an impressive 26 franchises, 11 of which are open for business. “I think this next year will be interesting because, as we grow, we’re going to expand rapidly,” he says. “Once you’re in three airports, there’s no reason you can’t be in 20.”

The menu at each store reads like an itinerary of Chusid’s travels. The Michigan Style Chili Dog, Tijuana Dog and State Fair Corn Dog share space with the Southern Comfort (the aforementioned slaw-and-chili dog), the Texas Tommy and the dinner-on-a-bun Chicago Style. “We’re trying to educate people that a hot dog is not just about mustard, ketchup, relish and onions,” he says. “People want to learn. In general, people are curious.”

But it’s through Johnnie, the eponymous (and fictional) little boy who gives the chain its name, that diners get to share in Chusid’s experiences. He felt the 1950s were overdone, so he rooted Johnnie’s persona in the ’40s, tying each store’s décor to the period. On the walls, scenes of World War II-era hot dog stands complement the vintage image of little Johnnie sitting on a curb chomping on a hot dog as long as his arm. “[We needed to] create a character specific to that era, who people can relate to and fall in love with,” says Chusid. “You look at that picture and go, ‘Wow! That’s a good-looking kid.’”

And little Johnnie has lots of fans. A recent lunchtime crowd at the Wayne location kept the small dining space at capacity while others streamed in the door to pick up to-go orders. No matter who you are, Chusid wants Johnnie’s to be your spot—where you take your kids for lunch on Saturdays, where they go for fries and shakes after school, and where they’ll eventually take their own children.

“People ask me, ‘What was the most exciting moment when you opened the doors in Wayne?’” says Chusid. “It was Friday at 3:40 p.m., and all the kids from the middle school had walked to Johnnie’s. The girls were in the middle and the boys were on the outside, and they were all sitting there eating hot dogs and fries and drinking milkshakes. That was success to me, because it made it that place, that destination.”

—Scott Pruden

Featured Profiles continued on page 20 …  
 

Lou and Vince Durso (Photo by Shane McCauley)Prime Cuts

Along with the faintly sweet scent of talc and tonic, distinctive music fills an old-fashioned barbershop. While severed clumps of hair drift silently to the floor, the swish of sheets, the staccato snips of clippers, and the hum of electric shears create a symphony both timeless and cutting-edge.

Such is the case at Vince’s Barber Shop, (Best Barber Shop and Recording Studio in One) which has been shaping scalps for four decades. Directly above the first-floor shop, however, the orchestration is headier and the gear higher tech. This space houses Optimus Recordings, a state-of-the-art studio that spans the musical scene from high school wannabes to top names in the industry. And the cat who owns Optimus cuts hair downstairs.

Lou Durso, a Marple Newtown High School grad, began working at his father’s shop in 1996, after eight years as a full-time musician playing club dates with various bands became a grind. Vince Durso had been barbering since the age of 13, starting in his native Naples, Italy. After immigrating to the U.S. in 1962, he grabbed a chair at a Newtown Square shop and took over the business 10 years later. In 2001, he moved the operation a few blocks to St. Albans Circle.

Before Vince’s reopened at its new digs, Lou already had turned the second floor into a studio. “It’s a place built by musicians,” says chief engineer Michael Nuceder, who learned his trade alongside rock icon Jimi Hendrix’s recording engineer.

Nuceder’s skills and temperament are a natural fit for Durso’s studio. “It’s pretty much my home,” says Nuceder, who’s also engineered at MilkBoy Recording in Ardmore.

In New York, Nuceder spent a decade at the legendary Electric Lady Studios, built by Hendrix not long before his death in 1970 and the site of recordings by Billy Joel, John Lennon and other superstars. “I try to bring that level of experience and apply it to local bands,” says Nuceder.

The Optimus reach now extends well beyond this area, and Ardmore natives Joe Mass and Michael Sembello have provided additional thrust. A guitarist and keyboardist, Mass is Sembello’s music director and an Optimus associate producer. He recently recorded several of his own songs at the studio, which has sent them (via computer, the primary means of communication in today’s music business) to Cincinnati-based producer Bootsy Collins, a bass guitar wizard who backed James Brown in the early 1970s and has recorded with Mass. Collins has been gathering material to submit to such contemporary artists as Beyoncé and Kid Rock.

Sembello, who was Stevie Wonder’s lead guitarist and wrote “Maniac” (the signature song from the ’80s hit movie Flashdance), laid down some tracks at Optimus a few months ago and plans to return to the studio.

For his part, Nuceder says the equipment at Optimus measures up to what you’ll find anywhere else. As for the studio’s owner, Durso continues to pull double-duty as upstairs musician/head-honcho and downstairs barber. And that, oddly enough, is how two businesses sharing the same domicile at the top of the circle in Newtown Square make beautiful music together.

—Jim Waltzer

Featured Profiles continued on page 21 …  
 

Solving Justsnarky

The following excerpt is from a recent string of posts on Justsnarky, our pick for Best Local Blog:

MLT: This is completely unrelated to anything except your hilarious and, yes, snarky blog. I LOVE IT. It’s about my favorite thing—so much so that I’d like to profile on you for Main Line Today. I’m guessing that you’d like to remain anonymous.
Justsnarky:
I’m floored and amused at the same time. But here is how this works: Who I am is who I choose to be, and while I have a fab collection of hats and sunglasses, I am just a virtually available gal at this point. If you want me just the way I am, this is how it’s done: You leave me the questions you want answered on a comment to the blog, and I’ll answer you on the blog.

MLT: Since we’re on the subject of anonymity, here’s my first question: Why do you choose to remain anonymous?
JS:
I ask, “Why not?” And who really cares in the bigger scheme of things? Everyone likes an air of mystery, so why such a big deal? Who cares—except those who might not like what a user of a nom de plume has to say? Except some disgruntled politicians?

MLT: Well, I suppose we could go on about the pros and cons of anonymity. But for now, let’s enjoy the mystery. I suspect that if you were public, you’d be hearing from more than a few unhappy politicians. That might really make you snarky. Speaking of which, I just looked up the term, and Dictionary.com came back with this: rudely sarcastic or disrespectful, snide. Also: irritable, short-tempered; irascible. Judging from your blog posts, all would seem to apply. What makes you so darn snarky?
JS:
LOL. The funny thing about it is, when I chose the blog name, I just thought it was catchy as much as anything else. I wanted something fun. Now, whether my content is great or not is probably open to debate, but at least I try to be amusing and not take myself too seriously … or politicians, either. I started this blog for me—no one else. I never realized people actually looked at it until I put on a counter. Have you ever done a Web-only interview before?

MLT: No, you’re my first. Did you start blogging because your point of view wasn’t represented in the mainstream media? Were you looking for other people who were more like you, or are you a lonely voice in the wilderness seeking company?
JS:
OMG, no “Desperate Housewife” here, sister! I’m neither a lonely voice nor in the wilderness. I just started doing this because it was kicky. When it stops being fun or I get bored, I’ll stop.

MLT: Well, there’s no shortage of stuff to talk about—that’s for sure. But how do you find the time to follow it all?
JS:
I watch the news and read some newspapers. And I admit I love NPR and prefer CNN to Fox “We Make Up the News” Network. An active mind is not such a bad thing to have—especially when the brains of some of my beloved friends have turned to applesauce. I look at blogs this way: It gives one the opportunity to say all those things they’d love to say at cocktail parties or dinner parties that wouldn’t be considered appropriate.

MLT: What do you think of the argument that blogs may have contributed to the political polarization of the country, since people can now just read whatever reinforces their point of view?
JS:
Political polarization? Um, I think both political parties have done that on their own with what they put on the Web and elsewhere. Don’t blame bloggers, or assume the public is stupid. We’re not.

—Sara Robins

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