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West Chester Restaurant Review: Roots Café

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Many local eateries tout their sustainable ways, but few are truly farm-sourced businesses. West Chester’s Roots Cafe is an exception—and one that appears to be flourishing.

Part of a family of restaurateurs, organic farmers and bakers, owner Dan Cellucci made it his mission in 2011 to create a sustainable spot, first offering popular breakfasts and lunches at a location on West Gay Street. This year, he and his wife, Kayana, made a big move, relocating a few blocks away to the space that most recently housed the iconic Gilmore’s.

The couple renovated the BYOB with natural stone, barn-wood elements and warm hues on walls that showcase local artist John Hannafin’s work. The result is a breathable space.

A large chalkboard lists the ingredients on executive chef Charlie Crawford’s menu, along with the local farms from which they’re sourced. Fair-weather days (or evenings) encourage al fresco dining on the garden-side patio, but we sat indoors and received enthusiastic service from the smiling staff. As one would expect from a locally sourced restaurant, seasonal dinner options change weekly.

While most dishes on the menu include seafood, wheat or dairy, the kitchen will happily accommodate vegan and gluten-free diners.

On our visit, standouts included a deviled trio of jewel-toned eggs laced with pink salmon, red beets and smoked trout. Our favorite dish was the smoked-trout carbonara—pan-fried, skin-on fillets resting atop creamy, pork-accented spinach pappardelle with a yolky egg on top.

When the check arrived and money changed hands, it was like the feel-good exchange one experiences when buying veggies direct from the farmer at market. Cellucci is as genuine as his food, which makes minor service and kitchen glitches tolerable. Indeed, you can’t help but “root” for this self-described work in progress. 

133 E. Gay St., West Chester, (610) 455-0100, rootscafewc.com

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