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Meatballs and Spaghetti

Looking for a good place to eat great old fashioned meatballs and spaghetti in the Main Line near Bala Cynwyd, Ardmore, Manayunk. Any ideas?

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  1. I'm always amazed how much all restaurants charge for plain spaghetti and red sauce. I've seen diners whack customers ten bucks for a handful of pasta before the meatballs ever get there.

    To be honest, we usually avoid chains, but once in awhile we go to the Olive Garden where my wife and I get unlimited amounts of soup and salad. I get pasta e fagiole, and she gets a broth-based Tuscan potato-sausage-greens version.

    My son ordered spaghetti and meatballs a few weeks ago, and it was a WHOPPING portion with three huge meatballs (which I sampled.) They tasted like the real beef-pork-veal meatballs I've had made my my friends' Abruzeze grandmothers.

    My wife makes spaghetti alla chitarra, so there's no comparison where the pasta is concerned, but overall OG has my vote as a pretty good version at a fair price.

    Come to think of it, I've had a decent version at Vinny T''s in Wynnewood. I probalby should just drive to S. Philly, since it's probably equidistant from B.C. It's just such a pain to park I'll probably end up developing a taste for Suburban Chain versions of real dishes.

    1. If you are looking for good meatballs and sauce to bring home, try Carlino's

      2 Replies
      1. re: phungi

        second carlinos...great tomato pie too

        1. re: EastCoastWineMan

          That's true .. Carlino's is like stuffing ninth street into a deli. While you're there, you can stock up on all kinds of Italian goodies (try the Canadian Prosciutto !!)

      2. so no one has a great suggestion except the Olive Garden. I'm looking for South Phila. type gravy with homemade meatballs. Keeping thinking, please.

        1. La Dolce Vita on DeKalb Street in Bridgeport. Just follow Route 23 into Bridgeport to where it runs into DeKalb, and turn left. It's in a house on the right. Odd place but really good food. It's really only 20 minutes from BC.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Dedtired

            I second La dolce Vita, they have great "old school" italian food and a quirky atmosphere to match!

            1. re: AmblerGirl

              I agree AG, it's a great little place.

              I was sorry to see in an earlier post that the place might be for sale.

            2. re: Dedtired

              Is this the place that has created a kitchen with customer seating and it has island pictures playing on a flat screen, as faux logs burn behind you?
              If so they suck! I know it is family owned and run, and that in turn creates the best service you could ever hope for anywhere. Sometimes I hope my tastes are inconsistent with those in the area, and I pray others like it, but if I am to be brutally honest it was not any where near my top 20 best Italian restaurants list. My humble suggestion, which should make this place 50% better, is fresh and RIPE produce. If a tomato isn't ripe it's a disappointment. I feel bad saying this, but honest feedback is best.
              If not, my bad :-)

            3. Another thought -- Marrone's in Ardmore.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Dedtired

                i wouldn't call Marrone's a great fit for this...I find their red sauce a littlw watery...but for the prices and the great little neighborhood feel...you really can't go wrong...they have a good meatball

                1. re: EastCoastWineMan

                  I love Marrones pizza...and far as restaurant meatballs go, theirs are really good.
                  I don't think I've had the meatballs at Primavara in ardmore, but their angel hair pasta is really good.

              2. How about Fellini on Lancaster Ave in Ardmore? I never had their red sauce, and going on a weekend is an experience in futility, but the pasta is fresh and their dishes are tasty. I don't know about meatballs, but they serve a bolognese:


                3 Replies
                1. re: phungi

                  Took the suggestion and went to Olive Garden. I'd have to say it was just OK. Still have the urge for great pasta so I guess I'm going to drive to South Philly or try Le Dolce Vita in Bridgeport. I keep reading how good that restaurant is. Thanks for your suggestions.

                  1. re: judyhorowitz

                    I liked Primavera Pizza in Ardmore for spagetti & meatballs although I haven't been there in a few years.

                    1. re: judyhorowitz

                      Don't do Le Dolce Vita, it's mediocre. The atmosphere is quaint and the service great, but the tomatoes weren't ripe and the entrees nothing memorable. Go to Ralph's in South Philly.

                  2. I second (or third) the Carlinos recommendation. I have never had anything bad from there, but it's for take-out and not dinner.
                    Marrone's in Ardmore was a dissapointment to me. I so wanted to like it (cute, out of the way, nice service), but was not impressed.
                    While I loved the charm of the place, La Dolce Vita in Bridgeport is overpriced for the area and the food was not stellar.
                    For classic red sauce dishes, I would go to Fellini in Ardmore. It's your typical South Philly Italian style, but with huge portions and decent prices.
                    Has anyone tried the Italian restaurant in Bryn Mawr right near the Wawa & hospital? I have always wondered about that one.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Main Line Tracey

                      I have to agree that Carlinos (for take home) and Fellini's (for eat in) are your best choices on the Main Line. I've never had anything except the house salad and pizza at Marrone's. I've thought about it, but there is no way I could go there an not order their delicious pizza.

                    2. I have 2 suggestions for you. One is Casselli's in Manayunk/Roxborough. It's on Ridge Avenue. The food is superb. If you are looking for a delicious rich hearty red sauce, you will not be disappointed.

                      Second suggestion will require a 20 minute drive to King of Prussia. The restaurant is called Peppers. It's very casual, not terribly expensive, and has a great red sauce to die for. It is probably less expensive than Casselli's, but it's a bit further to drive. It's on route 202 just behind the big Bed Bath and Beyond there.


                      If you dine in either of these places, I think you'll find what you're looking for.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Bluegreenblue

                        Boy, I've forgotten about Casselli's. That place is still around huh...

                        Do they still have the singer?

                        1. re: Den

                          ooo ooo! the one with the bad toupee?? I used to LOVE him! (and the food too!)

                          1. re: mamakto3

                            I too forgot. My dad and I used to go all the time. I love that place! I had a great birthday there and the singer was fabulous. And the food was always delicious.

                      2. If you really really want old fashioned meatballs and gravy, then get in your car and drive to South Philly. It wont kill you to do that and now you can try Marra's, Ralphs or Villa Di Roman. Now all the pretentious folks all this board will slam me for recommending honest food.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: OlderPhiladelphian

                          i do remember marra's having some fabulous red sauce. and the pasta was right-on, too. too bad they had cheapened the whole thing by smothering it in a subpar mozzarella! still, i have been meaning to go back and get something without the mozzarella. and the pizza was decent, too. i know all too well that quandry about ordering something else at a place you know is good for pizza. i bring a dining companion, one gets pizza, the other pasta, and we split.

                        2. Casselli's sounds great and we are planning on going there this week. Anyone have any recommendations as to what is specifically good? I am particularly interested in enjoying this singer that I have heard so much about. They say that they have live entertainment every evening that they are open, after 7. No reservations, huge portions, cash only and live singers sounds like it has SO much potential to be one of my new favorite places. I am excited. Any recs?

                          1. Thank you so much to those who recommended Casselli's on Ridge Pike. We just got back and it was the perfect neighborhood Italian-red sauce restaurant. The portions were huge, the food was very good, the prices were rock bottom, the atmosphere was relaxed, the service was attentive, and the singer was adorable. We will definitely be going back and it is now on my list of favorite places. $10 for my lasagna which included, bread, soup and salad is awesome, and I have leftovers for tomorrow because of the portion size. Thanks again!

                            1. The one that you might be looking for is in Narberth just off of Montgomery Ave. going East. You would turn right for one block (I think on Iona Avenue) and I have shamefully forgotten the name of the restaurant which is on the left side of the road with their own parking lot, but some savvy Chowie might remember.
                              The other, obviously, is Fellini's in Ardmore, but I'm sure you already knew that.
                              THERE'S your place!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: idia

                                Are you thinking of Husch ?? That's the only restaurant I recall being on Iona (and possibly the only ESTABLISHMENT in Narberth with a parking lot <g>.)

                                It has been closed for sometime, and converted to an ad agency or architectural firm or something.

                              2. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Pica's on West Chester Pike heading towards Upper Darby. They have been around for years - and by far the best italian food around. Well worth the drive! We used to drive there just to get pizza!

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: laziedazie570

                                  tryin to keep the wait for pizza to go to a minimum...thats why I didn't mention it...sorry its selfish....but its soo good...dare you not to eat a piece in the car on the way home

                                  1. re: EastCoastWineMan

                                    i have lived around philly my entire life. picas has some of the best pizza you can find - beyond a doubt. not the best for pasta and meatballs but a solid meatball sub. regardless, the pizza is some of the best you will find. it even rivals OG.

                                    just kidding. but whoever is phillyjazz - dont take it personally - if that tastes good to you there is no reason to waste your time cooking. sara lee and betty crocker also make good meatballs. man, how could a faceless chain put enough love into a meatball to make it good? thats like suggesting that wendys makes a good burger.

                                    its not about being a snob - just a food person.

                                    1. re: EastCoastWineMan

                                      dont get me wrong - i truly do think that picas has some of the best pizza around.

                                  2. Viggianos in Conshohocken

                                    1. Brunos on Germantown Pike across from Chestnut Hill College...

                                      Yummy south philly type meatballs

                                      1 Reply