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Melograno, Philadelphia

I need to have good Italian when visiting Philly in June. I keep reading about Melograno and it's not too far from King Tut. Is there any way to find out a sampling of their menu? How do people dress to go there - is casual okay? Do they take reservations?

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  1. The food is good, it is located at 22nd and Spruce, no reservations, very small/outdoor seating. You can put your name on the list and walk a block and have a drink at Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Casual

    1. It is also, BYOB. We like La Fontana della Citta - 1701 Spruce Street. 215-790-2533, they take reservations. www.lafontanadellacitta.com

      4 Replies
      1. re: BRI328

        Thanks, I think I would prefer a place that takes reservations. I've been doing more research and came up with Ernesto's also on Spruce. Is La Fontana better?

        1. re: LMRose

          Ernesto's food is nothing special, except for his mother's zuppa inglese (a.k.a. Italian rum cake), which is superb. I do like La Fontana's food better.

        2. re: BRI328

          I used to love La Fontana but just had a very disappointing experience. They made us wait a long time -- even with a reservation; service was rude and food had delclined. Melograno's always wonderful -- both food and service -- and worth the wait. Also recently loved Branzino!

          1. re: efeats

            Finally had the chance to try La Fontana last night. It was reasonably good, I thought, but IMHO definitely inferior to Melograno and Bronzino...I'd say I even like Roberto's, Bistro La Baia, and Casta Diva better in the (fairly) immediate neighborhood when it comes to Italian BYOBs. The menu at La Fontana is nothing especially unique or interesting, more your (Southern) Italian classics, fairly reasonably prepared for Center City, but not as unique as Melograno nor as expertly done as Bronzino. I will say the seafood risotto I had was pretty good. It's just...nothing I'd really go out of my way for. Bread was pretty "meh" as well...

        3. Melograno takes resevations during the week and if you are going during the week I would go to Melograno's over the other two listed. I would call and ask, but I think it's Tuesday thru Thursday (maybe Mondays too if they're open). Casual is okay, menu-wise you may be able to see a sampling on menupages.com

          1 Reply
          1. re: Tonyjlive

            Thanks, unfortunately it will be a Saturday and it would be better if we had reservations. I checked menupages.com and I'll have to come back next time during the week, to Melograno. Is there something else in that area?

          2. We prefer Branzino to either Ernesto's or la Fontana.
            It is on 17th Street, just north of Spruce. Delicious food, lovely ambience, no more expensive than the other places. BYOB. The pasta, fish and meat are all excellent. They take reservations. Try to get the back/upstairs room.

            2 Replies
              1. re: idia

                Thirded. I live directly across the street from La Fontana and next door to Branzino. Every night we hear these huge crowds at La Fontana and marvel - why, why, WHY eat there when you are so close to exquisite Branzino?

            1. alot of people like illuminaire, though i think they are hit or way miss. but to each their own. i am surprised people aren't liking ernesto's. my family is italian-american and many off the boat italians (in the restaurant and food business) love ernesto's. i have never been, so can't be helpful. :) under no circumstances go to bistro la baia.

              3 Replies
              1. re: mazza3

                What's wrong with Bistro La Baia? It's certainly got a different atmosphere than the other places you mentioned, and isn't nearly as upscale, but I've always enjoyed the food there. It's comfort food - yummy, but nothing fancy.

                1. re: nns

                  eh. I think La Baia's better than Fontana, but I think Melograno is vastly better than both - even if they have gotten more crowded lately.

                  1. re: nns

                    i don't like the way they prepare their food and while i like being crammed in tight with people, i don't think that it would be a pleasant visit after a museum. maybe i'm just nit-picking and broadcasting my own preferences too much, but i real do think their food stinks too. :) and i tend to prefer cheap and nasty, not quite to the hollyeats.com extreme, but fancy places give me the woolies.

                2. Melograno just rec'd a great blurb in the Inq. restaurant review- that is likely to hammer it more than it already is with crowds. I've eaten there and my thoughts are that it's good, not great, the wait can be long (not worth a wait)- parking is a royal pain in this area of Philly in particular--

                  1. This comment is out of date for this thread, but I just ate at Melograno and had to share my experience. Very disappointing! I was so sad because Melograno used to be one of our favorite easy dinners in the Rittenhouse area. It look like they haven't changed their menu in a year, and while the old dishes were perfectly satisfactory once, most of them aren't anything I needed to eat again. I had a very disappointing linguine with clams as well--there was hardly any broth (it was not terribly flavorful in any event) and the entire dish was dotted with tiny burned potato bits. When I ate a large piece of potato, I realized they had been burned because they were almost turned. The atmosphere at Melograno is still nice, and the waitstaff are attentive and friendly. I just wish the food were more inspired. It's never a good thing when the tastiest part of the meal is the bread and olive oil!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: provnphilly

                      man... just got back from melograno... i wish i hadn't been one of those people who runs there after it gets a good laban review, but alas, i am one of those people in this case! wish i'd been here earlier! we stopped by on a whim - we'd just gotten out of a flamenco show a couple blocks away and were starved. i called, and sure enough they had one table open right then, and five minutes later there we were. i had three things all of which i would absolutely recommend: mussels, beet salad (who doesn't have a beet salad nowadays!?) with goat cheese, pears soaked in something cinnamony or another and walnuts, and a spaghetti with GARLIC and clams in a white wine sauce with chopped tomatoes. everything was perfect and hit the spot in a big way. those are possibly the best mussels i've ever had. (the spaghetti's sauce was very similar to the mussel sauce or perhaps the same) there were a million other things on the menu that looked equally good and i'll be back soon to try them. very very happy with my meal. between that, konak yesterday and kanella friday, i had a pretty damn happy food weekend. (was celebrating my birthday a little early, ha! now i don't know if i can top the meal for the actual b-day) ;)

                      1. re: rabidog

                        I would like to add another highly favorable experience. Ate at Melograno this last Sat night and had delicious meal. Starters included the pan fried chicken liver and artichoke arugala salad, main dishes were a suberb black cod dish and muchroom pasta dish. no room for desert though.
                        great ambience and good service.

                    2. The chef at Melograno is going to do a cooking demonstration at Fosters (4th and Market) on April 25th!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Bigley9

                        I just had a great meal at Melograno too. The one question we had though was whether they change their menu. We at there for the first time in the early Fall after they opened the new restaurant. Everything we had in the fall was still on the menu and the other stuff seemed pretty familiar. Does anybody know?

                        1. re: megmosa

                          They don't seem to really ever change the menu. They added a few items when they moved, but it has been the same since. They do usually have a few specials that change.

                      2. What are the prices like at Melograno? Entrees in the 20s?

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: hungry100

                          If I recall correctly, most expensive entree on the menu is $29 for the steak. Most are in the 20-26 range, pastas in the teens.

                          When I go with my S.O., if we order two starters, two entrees, an a dessert to split (w/some coffees), it usually ends up being around $100 before tip. Less if we get pastas as a second. So it's a little pricier than some of the other Italian BYOBs we frequent, but still a place we like to treat ourselves to every now and then.

                          1. re: sockii

                            Thanks. I'm going on Thursday, and I can't wait.

                          2. re: hungry100

                            the pastas were totally reasonable for HUGE portions - i wanna say mine was around $15? i highly recommend the spaghetti with clams.

                            does anyone know if melograno has a website? i wanted to recommend it to friends and couldn't find anything online.

                            with regard to changing the menu (or not), i think in certain places it is better left unchanged, like here. just IMO. when i'm craving a nice, thick spaghetti, now i know where to go. i would be devastated if it were not available next time. for more adventurous or ambitious plates/places, a change once in a while might be welcome... but everything at melograno seemed fairly 'safe,' and very well-executed. those are the types of menus that i'd hate to see changed. again, that's just my two cents. if it makes sense. :)

                            1. re: rabidog

                              I tend to agree--Melograno has a pretty balanced, solid starting menu and I'd hate to see some of my favorites disappear. And they do tend to have interesting nightly specials if you're in the mood to try something different (the langoustine starter I had on my last visit was fabulous). There are some places I like going to, to always have something different (like Matyson, with their weekly tasting menus). But others I'm happy when my regular favorite dishes are always there...

                              1. re: sockii

                                I have visions of padardelle (sp?) dancing in my head...

                              2. re: rabidog

                                No, they don't really change the menu, but, as was said, the specials were where the variety lived.

                                The mushroom pappardelle is exquisite. It's so good it's tempting to get an extra order to take home.