Allegria hides in plain sight along a busy stretch of Pottstown Pike. Known for his robust risottos, Salvatore D’Aprano also excels at traditional veal Saltimbocca Alla Romana, Melezane Rollati (tender sliced eggplant stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses and baked in tomato sauce) and a variety of pastas. The cozy ambiance makes it feels like you’re dining at someone’s home.
8 Welsh Pool Road, Exton, (610) 524-6060
Ten years after owner/chef Jonathan Amann and his wife Janine debuted their farm-to-table experience, its seasonal menu continues to surprise. Signature dishes include smoked tomato stew, Schezwan short rib meatballs, lobster ravioli with saffron sauce, and crispy duck confit. A lively kitchen view provides spontaneous ambience.
105 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, (484) 237-8179
Andiario. Photo By Steve Legato
This James Beard semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant continues its gastronomic reign thanks to owner/chef Anthony Andiario’s artful command of his open kitchen. House-made pasta garners much of the attention—and rightfully so. But don’t overlook the fluke crudo with Jimmy Nardello chile peppers and borlotti beans, or the braised rabbit with aji dulce sweet peppers and Cipolle di Tropea onions. There are adult beverages on the menu, including Victory beer and a selection of wine, but toting along a favorite vintage is OK for a $10 corkage fee. Note: Reservations are still hard to come by.
106 W. Gay St., West Chester, (484) 887-0919
At Francis Pascal’s charming 21-year-old bistro, the chef continues to assert his considerable skills in sublime seasonal dishes. Recent highlights include boar stuffed with capicola, Gruyère and sun-dried blueberries, fresh halibut with wild mushrooms, and a local venison filet crowned with black trumpet mushrooms and huckleberries. Save room for pastry chef Jane Urban’s warm butterscotch cake with vanilla gelato. Note: Book well in advance; cash or check only.
1403 Hollow Road, Birchrunville, (610) 827-9002
Chef Bualoy Phengmisouk crafts dishes as exotic and flavorful as they are affordable. Tender hand-pulled tapioca noodles fill aromatic bowls of khao piak sen, a traditional Laotian soup with a cilantro-scented chicken broth. Equally tasty is the nam khao, a crunchy rice salad tossed with crushed peanuts, scallions and lime and served on a fresh bed of lettuce. Thai-inspired selections include marinated chicken and pork satays, coconut milk curries, and pad stir-fries.
300 W. Lancaster Ave., Devon, (610) 341-8162
The original urban iteration of this family-owned spot is in Philadelphia’s resurgent Passyunk section. The Delaware County version has repurposed church pews and the same homey, well-crafted menu. Chefs Albi and Dejvi Furxhui tap South Philly’s Italian Market for the ingredients that lay the foundation for the seafood, poultry and pork that accompanies its house-made pastas. As you’d expect, the namesake burrata with peppers, prosciutto and a drizzle of fig balsamic is a must-try, as is the tiramisu.
26 E. Eagle Road, Havertown, (610) 808-9933
Byrsa Bistro. Photo By Ed Williams.
Open weekends only in winter, Byrsa is known for its house-made pastas and Mediterranean flavors—in particular, the paella, chicken tagine, seafood linguine, cavatelli and lamb. The enticing menu pairs well with its curated wine selection, including owner Ahmed Chraga’s signature reds. Patrons are encouraged to bring their bottles, with no corkage fee.
128 Glen Mills Road, Glen Mills, (610) 558-4700
At this small family-owned spot, Imad Slim shares his passion for Lebanese cuisine, making everything to order—falafel, baba ganoush, tabbouleh, chicken shawarma, baklava cigars, hummus and more.
Among the noteworthy weekly specials: a baked kibbeh wrap and shish kebab.
235 Lancaster Ave., Malvern, (856) 272-6339
Side-by-side on a prominent corner in Manayunk, these twin successes from executive chef Nongyao “Moon” Krapugthong have complementary personalities. The menu at Chabaa Thai offers tom kah soups, various beef, poultry and seafood dishes, and a host of signature pad thai specialties. Next door, the recently relocated Yanako has an intimate seven-seat sushi bar. Don’t miss the mini pork belly steam buns, shrimp lollipops and takoyaki octopus dumplings. The menu features an array of stunningly prepared salads, udon, teriyakis and tempuras.
Chaba Thai Bistro: 4343 Main St., Manayunk, (215) 483-1979; Yanako Restaurant: 4345 Main St., (267) 297-8151
Chabaa Thai Bistro. Photo Courtesy of Neal Santos
It wasn’t until Jay Wang was offered a spot on the ground floor of the Phoenix Luxury Apartments that he actually realized how few Japanese restaurants there are in Phoenixville. With Chikara, he’s helping change that. His tranquil yet modern sanctuary satisfies sushi-loving crowds, along with those seeking mild curried Thai dishes and an array of Chinese options, including the standout hoisin Peking-style Duck Empire with steamed mini buns.
131 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 917-8888
Gianuluca Demontis excels at Romanesque classics like tender octopus in a garlic sweet-pea stew, crispy-skinned duck atop a savory polenta. The tender New York strip is simmered in vino cotto wine and served over cannellini beans, and the classic Cotoletta di Pollo—a breaded whole chicken breast topped with mozzarella and arugula—is surprisingly light.
816 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 525-1007
Once known exclusively for their
lunchtime mastery, Mike and Ginny Hackett now offer elevated dinner options Wednesday-Saturday. Comfort classics include cheddar-and-kale meatloaf, seafood stew with shrimp, bay scallops, Parmesan polenta and fresh herbs in a spicy rosa broth, and a bun-less house burger (topped with melted Gorgonzola, bacon and caramelized onion jam) served over mashed potatoes. Brunch includes some incredible toasts—and there’s no corkage fee.
110-114 S. Jackson St., Media, (610) 566-2505
House. Photo By Steve Legato.
Existing for more than 20 years amid KOP’s mass of chains, Kabuki remains one of the best indie options around—and it recently got a refresh. Standouts include the King of Prussia Roll (smoked salmon with egg, crab, avocado, tobiko and cucumber) and dumplings filled with tuna and roe in a spicy wasabi mayo. Vegetarians will love the protein-packed tofu with deep-fried bean curd in a light, sweet sauce. The menu also has tempura, udon and hibachi options.
180 E. Dekalb Pike, King of Prussia, (610) 878-9203
Mama Wong’s Shanghai pork dumplings gush hot broth, and the spicy beef tendon is a homey, rustic treat. Those who’d rather not play it safe can opt for the griddled pork intestines or stir-fried pig kidney. But even more predictable dishes like General Tso’s Chicken are memorable at Mama Wong. Note: Spicy really does mean spicy on this menu.
268 Eagleview Blvd., Exton, (484) 713-8888
At Marokko, soft benches, vibrant plush pillows and glowing lanterns provide a fitting backdrop for a tempting tagine selection. Braised slowly until it’s fall-apart tender, the chicken (with saffron, lemon confit and Moroccan green olives) is served with soft grilled pita and bata maqli. Or try the wild-caught Pacific king salmon and fresh tomatoes, simmered with vegetables, served on a bed of couscous and topped with chermoula. Belly dancers perform on Saturday nights.
54 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (610) 658-6246
Opa Taverna. Photo By Steve Legato.
By day, Opa dispenses traditional Greek and Cypriot lunch fare—think hummus with pita, gyros, salads, souvlaki and grilled lamb, beef and pork platters. At night, out come the whole fishes marinated in olive oil and slow-cooked over hot coals. Moussaka, Greek lasagna and a Mediterranean flatbread are among the other standouts.
40 E. Gay St., West Chester, (610) 696-4100
Andrew Patten has cultivated quite the local following under the Spence brand over the past 15 years. For his latest iteration, the focus is on a seasonal menu and locally sourced ingredients. His baked oysters Spence are reminiscent of the classic Rockefeller version. Also excellent: braised short rib, seafood cioppino and a brown-sugar brined pork chop. A selection of artisan cheese boards and toasts reflects the time of year.
131 N. High St., West Chester, (610) 918-1272
Pescatore owner Thomas Anastasi is part of the family that runs Philadelphia’s Anastasi Seafood, so it’s hardly a shock that fish is king here—branzino filets, Maryland crab cakes, Barnegat Light scallops, South African lobster tail and tender Gulf shrimp. Other favorites include a grilled pita flatbread topped with jumbo lump crab and shrimp, Nonna’s cherished meatballs, and the Veal Sinatra with shrimp, asparagus and roasted red peppers in a smooth Grand Marnier sauce.
134 Bala Ave., Bala Cynwyd, (610) 660-9400
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If you want to dine at Ravanesi, call in your dough order ahead of time and show up early, as waits can run up to two hours. And when the dough runs out, there’s no more for the day. Dave Ravanesi’s crispy Roman and doughy Neapolitan crusts have won over a slew of fanatics. The Margherita, the cheesy Bianca, the Salsiccia with sweet sausage—everything rewards patience.
790 Baltimore Pike, Glen Mills, (484) 840-8912
At Ruth and Rich Silverberg’s Eagle Village Shops mainstay, accomplished executive chef Owen Kolva steers an innovative, contemporary American menu defined by its multi-ethnic flavors and regional favorites like mushroom soup, Jail Island salmon, cod de papillote (in parchment), and spaghetti and crab. A three-course chef’s tasting menu is available on weeknights.
503 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 688-7646
Tucked away behind a pizza shop and deli, Ernesto Guzman deftly prepares American cuisine inspired by Mexico, Italy and France. The pan pizzas are exceptional—especially the Ragazza (shaved pear, Gorgonzola, capicola and arugula), Luie and Actore (shrimp, red onion, long hots, pistachios and honey) and the one-of-a-kind Maria Dolores (bone marrow, jalapenÌƒos, caramelized onion and shredded beef). Other noteworthy options include marinated skirt steak and slow-roasted pork osso bucco. Top it all off with a fresh cannoli. 2
6 N. Bryn Mawr Ave., Bryn Mawr, (484) 222-6216
Comfort abounds in the kitchen philosophy of chef Bill Rutter, who also runs Your Mom’s Place in Phoenixville. In this newer outpost, expect an inspiring Sunday brunch with shrimp and grits, eggs Benedict, and challah French toast. Lunch offerings include a burger made of beef and Andouille sausage, a crab cake BLT, and a caprese panini. For dinner, try the grilled flank steak with roasted-onion Madeira reduction or the soy- and honey-glazed seared tuna. In conjunction with Stable 12 Brewing Company, Rutter is set to introduce his own Hares Hill label—
but you can still bring your own wine.
1300 Hares Hill Road, Kimberton, (610) 933-1147
Talula’s Table. Photo courtesy of Talula’s Table.
Even after more than a decade, Aimee Olexy’s famed 10-course tasting menu should be on any aspiring foodie’s bucket list. There’s the popular 12-person farm table, plus a window-side option for two to eight guests. Because there’s just one seating a night, guests can linger over their meals. Chef Kyle Beebe’s menu might include local duck with seasonal fruit and a Dijon-scented gnocchi with cauliflower and brown butter. The composed cheese course is still a supreme indulgence. Note: Guests book up to one year in advance; check Instagram or call for last-minute cancellations.
102 W. State St., Kennett Square, (610) 444-8255
After years as a protégé at some of the area’s top restaurants, Scott Morozin is now the headliner at Verbena. He’s earned the spotlight with signature dishes like vodka-cured Ora King salmon, pork-cheek ravioli in smoked-hock reduction, fresh Pocono trout, and a ribeye with a chimichurri-and-truffle rub. The well-curated cheese platter is an experience in itself, and the six-course tasting menu perfectly showcases the chef’s ample talents.
102 State St., Kennett Square, (484) 732-7932