Pollo al Mattone//photos by steve legato
from left: bottles on display in the impressive wine cellar; owner Chris Scarduzio in chef mode
No stranger to the region’s food scene, Scarduzio has shuffled his way through a variety of city- and Shore-based eateries, acting as executive chef and proprietor for concepts like the namesake Scarduzio’s and Table 31. He also spent notable time at Brasserie Perrier, aside the boisterous Georges Perrier, where he collected top honors from Condé Nast Traveler and the Wall Street Journal, along with nods from the James Beard Foundation. Scarduzio’s input into the creation of the short-lived post-Le-Bec-Fin gem Avance shouldn’t be discounted, either.
After a call last year from pal Alberto Guadagnini, Scarduzio jumped at the chance to oversee the expansion of Teca, a West Chester favorite, to the building that once housed the Newtown Grill and, most recently, Casale. Also partnering with Alberto’s son, Roberto, he brings the contempo Italian brand to a behemoth of a space—3,500 square feet—along Newtown Street Road.
from left: Teca’s margherita pizza; countertop dining is encouraged
Similar to their Gay Street location, the Guadagninis modeled their new multi-concept building after Alberto’s Tuscan winery, Casali di Bibbiano. Bursting with burnt-orange and red tones, funky geometric prints and sleek mahogany, the extensive dining rooms and lounge-style bar area make for prime people-watching. A swanky, tile-lined wood-fired oven—with its alluring red glow—summons guests to dine at the counter.
Downstairs, a private wine-cellar-plus-banquet-facility is equally suave, and the enchanting alfresco garden keeps with the elegant Tuscan theme.
Looks aside, the driving force behind the new Teca is Scarduzio’s menu—one that celebrates his South Philly upbringing with traditional recipes from his grandparents, who emigrated from the Abruzzi region of Italy. Great care goes into crafting Neapolitan dough from incomparable Napoli Antimo Caputo flour.
Teca’s crispy wild striped bass with stewed cannellini beans and tomato jus
Sharply clad in black, the waitstaff made some admirable attempts at tradi-tional pronunciations, and we wisely took their advice on the pizzas. Wholesome and decadent, our Uovo pie was one of nine varieties, its mozzarella, garlicky broccoli and chunks of Cotechino Modena built on a lightly charred crust and crowned with a runny egg.
Among the small plates, we tried the pillowy caprese-style burrata and a mixed-field-greens salad tossed (perhaps a bit too liberally) with estate olive oil and imported tuna.
Next was a duo of house-made pastas. My ribbons of pappardelle were deftly spun with a vibrant porcini sauce and blistered cherry tomatoes. The gnocchi really stood out, thanks to a Parmigiano cream base and sprinkles of an inventive mint gremolata. Perhaps the sort of things Scarduzio’s nonnas used to make?
Given that Alberto owns an Italian winery, you would expect the wine list to be versatile and sophisticated—and it is, equally approachable by the connoisseur and the novice-in-training. Stop by after 9 p.m. on a weeknight for a glass of wine or a cocktail (try the Bitter Old Man), and watch as the bar comes alive with an enthusiastic 50-something clientele.
THE SKINNY: Alberto and Roberto Guadagnini have hit the mark with a new version of Teca, defined by a classy but comfortable Italian menu. Highlights include Neapolitan pizzas and hand-spun pastas, along with an impressive international wine selection.
Teca Newtown Square 91 S. Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, (484) 420-4010.
cuisine: Contemporary Italian.
attire: Stylishly casual.
atmosphere: A Tuscan feel, with a touch of modern whimsy.
hours: Lunch and brunch: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday. Dinner: 4-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Happy hour: 4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.
extras: Weeklong brunch and lunch, an impressive wine cellar, daily seafood-centric menu additions.