Caffe Casta Diva, Philly
I have often recommended Casta Diva as one of the good BYOB's in Philly. We had dinner there this past weekend, and this is our problem with it: the noise level was impossible.
The food was fine. They have their own version of Caesar salad, which was a very good salad though not typical Caesar. (I love the traditional one at Tre Scalini.) Our pastas and main courses were as good as ever. The menu is limited, but enough. No problem with service.
But when we go out for dinner on a weekend evening, we are usually with friends. It is our time to get together with people and talk. All of us had a headache from trying to communicate with each other at Casta Diva. It is small, and very noisy.
Also, the people sitting near the door were getting a cold blast every time someone came in. It wasn't too cold this past weekend, but I could see a problem in future months.
Some people don't mind a high noise level. And if it were just the two of us, it might have been okay; we talk enough at home. As it was, we won't be returning.
I went to Caffe Casta Diva a couple of weeks ago based on recommendations given here (thanks guys!). I had the branzino - it was amazing! Wasn't terribly hungry but I stuffed myself b/c it was just that good. The flavors were very traditional and perfectly executed, but I do prefer a little twist when I dine out so I might choose Melograno over CCD based on the creativity of their menu. It was noisy and crowded, but no worse than any other BYO in the city.
Among the BYO's we frequent regularly are Branzino, Radicchio, Nan and August. None of them are as noisy as Casta Diva. Radicchio can get somewhat noisy when full, but they did something to calm down the sound level.
You're right, most places do get noisy and crowded, but we do keep returning to the places where we can hold a conversation and still have very good food.
By the way, the fish specials - Dover sole, and usually branzino, red snapper, or dorado - at Radicchio are wonderful. Very simply prepared, grilled with some olive oil and fileted tableside, and terrific. Their sister restaurant, Bistro Juliana, has those fish specials also. It's hard for me to resist that Dover sole, which you can't get in many other places.