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Gemelli on Main: A Must-Visit in Manayunk

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Gemelli on Main’s lobster cannelloni with braised pork belly. (Photo by Jared Castaldi)For any chef, it must feel pretty good to hear gasps of delight from diners. Such is often the case at Clark Gilbert’s Gemelli on Main, the “downtown” revival of the Narberth BYO, which has found a new home in Manayunk—and scored a liquor license in the process.

What first got me was the plating and presentation. A delicate calamari salad was lightly dressed, tumbled with haricots verts, roasted peppers, potatoes and Niçoise olives, and piled atop paper-thin slices of cucumber. The chilled pea soup, with peekytoe crab salad and English peas, was visually stunning and gastronomically inspired. Everything had a place; nothing was unapproachable or overdone.

Gilbert’s background and expertise in French cuisine are perhaps most evident in his complex, soulful sauces. His subtle command of Italian ingredients and styles is also a gratifying force. The signature gemelli is a constant on the menu, the meat in this Bolognese dish changing on a regular basis. A frequent special, the lobster cannelloni was divine when paired with braised pork belly, wild mushrooms, fava beans and a richly flavored sauce.
 

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Among the seafood and meat options, the barramundi with serrano-wrapped squid, and the pork cheeks with Parmesan polenta and vegetables epitomized the beauty and refinement of French and Italian done right.

That refinement is also evident in Gemelli’s new two-story home. Minimal yet warm, with classy, welcoming touches like hanging lanterns and an open kitchen, Gemelli on Main has an urban feel without trying too hard to be something it’s not. In the end, this gem has an identity all its own—and food that shines.

4161 Main St., Manayunk; (215) 487-1230, gemellionmain.com.

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