It could be the irresistible bread that’s baked slowly overnight, or the house-made sausage. As it happens, there are just so many things to relish about this quaint BYO, from its comfy surroundings to its large antipasti menu and luscious pasta entrées. Owners Barbara and Alfredo Giannaccari bring lots of love to their fresh Italian preparations—and you don’t have to dig deep into the menu to taste it.
668 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn; (610) 640-2962, alfredobyo.com.
You’ll feel right at home in chef John Wolferth’s humble BYO, just a few blocks from Narberth’s main drag—and he wouldn’t want it any other way. Content and at ease in an open kitchen, Wolferth works effortlessly with his staff to deliver unpretentious fare that’s as comforting as it comes. He even manages the occasional surprise with an unexpected preparation or two. Almost everything’s a keeper on Aperto’s European-inspired menu. If you’re looking for specifics, Wolferth’s braised veal cheeks are a sure bet, as are the house-made desserts.
232 Woodbine Ave., Narberth; (610) 660-0160, apertobyob.com.
John Brandt-Lee’s West Chester BYO is already an odds-on favorite for solid, rustic Italian cuisine—and his new tapas-style eatery in Downingtown is headed in that direction. Smaller portions afford the opportunity to try a wide range of items. And you’ll want to. Brandt-Lee turns simple ingredients into delightfully complex and composed mouthfuls, from homemade pastas with savory sauces to his classic baby meatballs. Don’t skip the cheese-and-salumi pairings.
78 W. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown; (610) 873-4200, pastabistro.com.
Desert Rose may not have the visual pizzazz of other Main Line eateries. But it hardly matters when the food tastes this good. The excellent, reasonably priced fare includes everything from knockout sandwiches and hummus platters to hearty soups and salads. The fresh-baked pita is addicting, and the convenient market offers key Mediterranean staples.
305 W. State St., Media, (484) 442-8012.
Ekta’s Raju Bhattarai also owns and operates a location in Fishtown—and we couldn’t be happier that he made his way to the Main Line. The menu is one of the most expansive around, and we have yet to taste anything that hasn’t impressed—fragrant sauces, hearty vegetarian entrées and perfectly spiced items hot from the tandoor. The weekend buffet and mid-week lunch specials are reasons enough to stop by.
1003 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr; (610) 581-7070, ektaindianrestaurant.com.
Have a seat at the beautiful sycamore bar for a pint of craft beer and some Palm Beach pickle fries. Or grab a table in the classy, equine-themed dining room. Either way, chef Chad Jajczyk will wow you with ever-changing, seasonally inspired cuisine elevated by a forward-thinking way with ingredients. The nightly specials are a treat, and so is the Sunday brunch.
214 Sugartown Road, Wayne; (610) 964-3552, ellasamericanbistro.com.
It’s a wonderful thing when city chefs decide to move their namesake eateries west. Han Dynasty is one of those places, recently adding Manayunk to its four existing locales. So much more than what most of us have come to expect from an Americanized Chinese menu, the Szechuan cuisine here can be numbingly hot. Fiery or not, almost every dish offers something unique—like meat or fish served in a small, sizzling wok or the ever-popular noodles.
4356 Main St., Manayunk; (215) 508-2066, handynasty.net.
Ambitious young chef Michael Cappon melds traditional Spanish tapas and Mediterranean flavors with Italian pastas and Neopolitan pizzas. He isn’t afraid to get creative with his execution, and he takes chances with ingredients—risks that pay off. The mussels and the house-made mozzarella (with truffled honey and Marcona almonds) are just two of the many small-plate standouts.
382 E. Elm St., Conshohocken; (484) 532-7470, barisabella.com.
Matador is the Main Line’s most accurate representation of a Spanish tapas bar, complete with a vibrant atmosphere, rich color scheme and flamenco performances by internationally recognized dancers. A Spanish/Mexican menu marries the best of both regions, from dishes blanketed with rich mole sauces and vibrant green salsas to selections of Spanish cheeses and charcuterie. A glass of sangria is the perfect accompaniment.
110 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne; (610) 688-6282, matadorrestaurante.com.
Chef Michael Giampa has worked in kitchens around the world. Now he’s back home and at the helm of the Wayne Hotel’s sophisticated new eatery. Besides the exceptional food, one of the best things about Paramour is choosing where to settle for the evening, whether it’s in the modern lobby/lounge, the elegant main dining room, the spacious bistro bar area, or out on the airy veranda. Wherever you decide to sit, Giampa will make sure you’re well taken care of with seafood-centric contemporary dishes inspired by his world travels. Don’t miss the Sunday brunch.
139 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne; (610) 977-0600, paramourwayne.com.
Win Signature Restaurants made the right move in teaming up with Michael Chow of Chinatown’s renowned Sang Kee Peking Duck House. This suburban offshoot reminds us of everything we love about Sang Kee and its culinary consistency. While the traditional Asian dishes are reliably tasty, the amply portioned noodle bowls—customized with ingredients you choose—are hearty and robust.
4755 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square; (610) 353-5353, sangkeenoodlebowl.com.
Garnering epicurean inspiration from the historic section of old Rome known as the Jewish ghetto, this relaxed BYO is a stellar representation of its centuries-old culinary roots. Simple, unfussy dishes include artichokes cooked in olive oil (a Roman-Jewish staple) and feathery-light homemade pasta. Soulful, uncomplicated preparations shine, especially when it comes to the grilled seafood and meat dishes. The convenient takeout menu is a nice mid-week option.
720 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn; (610) 906-3299, tiramisuberwyn.com.
Xilantro has had a few inconsistencies since opening its ultra-modern doors last summer. Even so, CIA-trained chef Juan Pablo Quiroz satisfies our craving for traditional Mexican fare with refined preparations and a menu that covers everything from piquant, sauce-covered enchiladas to lighter seafood entrées. The sleek bar has become a magnet for margarita fans and tequila sippers, making it a prime people-watching spot.
103 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne; (484) 580-8415, xilantro.com.