Bala Cynwyd's La Collina Falls Short of Culinary Expectations

The dishes at this long-standing Belmont Hills institution look enticing, but the flavor doesn’t sing like the live music in the bar area.

Salmon and mixed veggies. (Photo by Jared Castaldi)You wouldn’t think a view that includes I-76 makes for prime restaurant real estate, but there’s something about La Collina’s hilltop perch that’s quite nice—scenic even. The Belmont Hills institution has been going strong for more than 20 years, and it certainly has its share of regulars. There’s the romance of the Venetian Room just off the main dining area, and the wine cellar is a popular spot for private parties. The bar keeps things upbeat with live music several nights a week.

But as far as the food goes, nothing at La Collina particularly warranted the high prices (pasta and entrées run $19-$32). A simple Italian chopped salad was tasty enough, but too heavily dressed and oily. The fried calamari appetizer was on the greasy side, as was the soft-shell crab entrée special.

La Collina’s signature dish is the Dover sole, grilled and served tableside. The fish itself was good, but the side of green beans was a bland disappointment. The large bowls of pasta brimming with seafood looked enticing. Alas, I chose the tortellini, which was overcooked and smothered in a heavy gorgonzola sauce. A sautéed chicken entrée with onions, mushrooms and white wine, topped with mozzarella cheese, was nothing special.

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Dessert looked promising. A selection of four cakes arrived on a pastry cart. But none were made in-house, and the chocolate and vanilla-pineapple varieties we tried were dry. Today’s La Collina could use a little more attention to detail.

37-41 Ashland Ave., Bala Cynwyd; (610) 668-1780,
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