La Fava’s baked fusilli and meatballs / Photos by Steve Legato
Another in a long line of newer Italian restaurants in the area, La Fava Restaurant and Bar could easily get lost in the fray. But managing partner Michael Buono has tried to make sure that doesn’t happen, hiring a passionate executive chef, opting for high-quality food purveyors and crafting a great wine list, for starters.
Debuting this past February in a Glen Mills shopping center, La Fava is refined yet casual, its kitchen leaning heavily on Milan, Italy’s Marco Passante to execute a menu of authentic Mediterranean-accented dishes. Meals begin with Passante’s signature fava bean puree and a basket of warm grilled garlic-and-herb focaccia bread. The vivid green dip is a far more flavorful (and addictive) choice than the typical pour of olive oil at other eateries.
Lobster ravioli with chopped shrimp, fire-roasted tomato, white wine sauce and baby arugula
Antipasti starters include chargrilled Spanish octopus tendrils splayed across a thick and spicy ragu of cannellini beans. Mini meatballs are done Pomodoro-style with San Marzano tomatoes. There’s also a clever tempura of vegetable chips with tzatziki and sweet-pepper dipping sauces, plus a daily selection of cured meats and artisanal cheeses.
My grilled langostino burst with coastal flavors, though its meager size didn’t warrant the hefty market price tag. Fortunately, the zesty tangle of fried calamari with pickled pepper aioli was spot-on. Chewy pan-cooked flatbreads like the Calabrese—layered with hot soppresata and provolone—are perfect for sharing.
Pastas are either housemade or sourced from De Cecco in Fara San Martino, Italy. The guanciale-flecked Bucatini All’Amatriciana is a true-to-form classic, as is the Fusilli Al Forno, which is laden with fragrant meatballs and baked in a cast-iron skillet. Passante’s lasagna is hearty and rich.
For those after some protein, the perfectly seasoned roast pork tenderloin is served with root vegetables and a sherry-thyme jus. The tender veal scallopini blends delicate shrimp and succulent crawfish in a rich brandy reduction, making for a sumptuous option. Some fish dishes are fileted tableside for extra flair, adding to the experience. Our monkfish ossobuco was outstanding. Dessert options like Strawberries Romanov and Bananas Foster also benefit from the tableside treatment.
A weekday lunch buffet ($14.95) includes two proteins, two pastas, cured meats, cheeses, breads, biscotti and brownies. And unlike many of the notable Italian BYOBs in Glen Mills, La Fava has a full bar—and this one is marble-topped. The impressive wine list includes unexpected entries like the Seeker, a German Riesling. Bottle prices are reasonable, and La Fava hosts monthly wine dinners perfect for oenophiles.
With its 12-foot ceilings, large windows, muted grays and filigree-patterned wallpaper, the spacious dining room is tastefully subdued. As for La Fava’s prospects for success, the consistent food and lively atmosphere seem to promise even better days ahead.
Fried calamari, shrimp and zucchini with pickled pepper aioli
La Fava Restaurant and Bar, 1102 Baltimore Pike, Glen Mills, (484) 840-8603
Attire: Nice casual
Atmosphere: Antique-inspired wallpaper juxtaposed with sleek patterns, cool textures and sexy photos of European sports cars
Hours: Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday. Dinner: 2-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 2-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3-9 p.m. Sunday
Extras: Happy hour specials; a private room holds up to 100 guests; look for an 80-seat patio this fall.
An Old Fashioned