Cornered by the landmark Katz Pharmacy, the brick-façade storefronts along Darby and Eagle roads have served as the visual focal point of Havertown for almost a century. But once inside L’angolo West, diners are transported to somewhere much closer to Porter and Broad streets in South Philadelphia.
This is the second iteration of Kathryn and Davide Faenza’s long-running Italian restaurant. Their three-year-old suburban spot is quite similar to the 19-year-old original, right down to the menu and the modest prices.
Rustic simplicity abounds at this 54-seat BYOB. Grandmotherly chandeliers, salvaged barn doors, wrought-iron-framed mirrors and hand-carved wooden cornices give the space a distinct charm. The mismatched silverware furthers the homespun vibe.
Dinners begin with fresh breads from Faragalli’s Bakery in South Philly, where wood-fired ovens produce robust crusts. Chunks of it are perfect for dipping in bowls filled with a Mediterranean medley of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sundried tomatoes and basil.
Hearty appetizer highlights include a hazelnut-studded beet salad with orange vinaigrette, and littleneck clams topped with spicy sausage and broccoli rabe. We were also glad that we opted for the grilled zucchini and roasted red peppers, served with balsamic-fig-glazed slices of pan-seared smoky Wisconsin mozzarella, which had a tangy, toothsome bite.
Lamb osso buco over fresh cavatelli.
Pappardelle All’Anatra, with braised duck,
Entrées read like a traditional Sunday supper. The homemade gnocchi comes stuffed with ricotta cheese (in lieu of the typical potato filling) and is served with wild mushrooms and a rich truffle cream sauce. The classic chicken Parmesan is huge, served over a hearty tangle of spaghetti pomodoro. For the creamy Pappardelle All’Anatra, tender shreds of braised duck are married with a thyme-flecked white-wine vegetable broth for an exquisite bowl of early spring comfort. The Pork Milanese is a hit with regulars—as are the specials, which change nightly.
Burrata and prosciutto with arugula, tomatoes and a fig balsamic.
If you can find room, indulge in one of the house-made desserts—like tiramisu, Nutella cheesecake or a flourless chocolate truffle torte. The gelatos and cannoli are also sweet send-offs.
While atmosphere and cuisine at L’angolo West ooze comfort, one wishes the same could be said of the service. During our visit, one waiter took orders, and another played a guessing game on delivering our five entrées. Neither engaged us with the friendliness bestowed on apparent regulars. Still, with a little more polish, L’angolo West could easily become the beloved South Philly-style spot it obviously aspires to be.
L’angolo West, 26 E. Eagle Road, Havertown, (610) 446-8400.