Comforts of Home

Writing about food is always fun, but it isn’t always easy—especially in this down economy, when cash-strapped readers might not be so thrilled to read about $25-plus main courses at local eateries. So, rather than extolling the virtues of higher-end cuisine, we decided to highlight everyday eats—the stuff that keeps us nourished and provides a bit of a sensory thrill as we go about the daily grind.

To come up with the content for “First-Class Eats,” we reached out to Main Liners via a Web-only ballot to find out what they’ve been turning to for comfort and sustenance in the past year. Among the best tips from readers: the hearty, rare eye-roast beef sandwich at Ithan Food Market in Villanova, Luigi & Giovanni’s hefty porchetta sandwich—and the accompanying weekly pig roast—and the decadent eggs Benedict combos at Malvern’s ever-popular Classic Diner. 

Naturally, as our resident food expert, I had to chime in with a few favorites of my own—like the amazing fried chicken at Ardmore’s Soulfed Café, Elevation’s luscious veggie burger, Five Guys’ Cajun fries and Bertucci’s roasted eggplant pizza. Speaking of the latter, we conducted a little experiment, ordering in from three well-regarded pizza joints within a short distance of Villanova University. The results were far from a culinary breakthrough, but it was great fun deciphering all the nuances that make or break a delivery pie—primarily the crust (thin and crispy, please); tangy, not-too-sweet sauce; gooey (as opposed to rubbery) cheese; and, of course, heat (or a lack thereof). We also clocked actual delivery times to see if they measured up to those promised over the phone.

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And seeing as we’ve devoted a good portion of this issue to the joys of daily consumption, it seemed as if some acknowledgement of another unsung institution was in order. Hence the series of savory images from staff photographer Jared Castaldi taken inside the funky train-stop coffee shops that’ve popped up along the R5 (“Right Side of the Tracks”). As for me, I’m a sucker for the steamy, foamy (even without milk) cups of La Colombe at Guppy’s in Bryn Mawr. They’re enough to get me through my day—and night.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: Just in time for Valentine’s Day, senior editor Tara Behan checks in with Broomall-bred jewelry designer Steven Lagos to get the scoop on his latest lines. And while she’s at it, Behan encourages Lagos to spill a little dirt on his first Main Line job, and let us in on the uncanny convergence of creativity, drive and good fortune that made him what he is today—plus landed his influential, trend-setting work in every Neiman Marcus in the country.

Our Best of the Main Line & Western Suburbs Party is July 25!