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Italian in the Burbs

Where are the best Italian restaurants in the suburbs? Reside in Montgomery County.

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  1. I love San Marcos on Bethlehem Pike near Spring House. It's a bit expensive, but the food is great. Love the Dover Soul.

    5 Replies
    1. re: IamStarving

      Being Italian and growing up eating incredible Sicilian food from my mother and grandmother, this is an especially frustrating topic for me. That's because I think that, while being THE most popular cusine around, the quality is sorely lacking. Given that, I have found Ristorante Castello's in North Wales to be fairly good (some dishes better than others) and Boccelli's in Gmynedd to be fairly good as well. I do NOT think La Campagnola or Ariana's (both in Lansdale) are that good at all.

      When I want really good Italian food I head down the Philadelphia and will visit L'Angolo, Salento, La Locanda del Ghiottone or the like. Good luck, you can find Italian restaurants on every corner but good ones are few and far between IMHO.

      NB: It's "Sole"

      1. re: Schpsychman

        SAdly, I cannot really bring myself to recommend a fine Italian restaurant in the 'burbs.
        If you are satisfied with a "neighborhood type thing" then I guess you might like Fellini's BYOB in Ardmore.

        1. re: Schpsychman

          We do not normally eat Italian out as my husband is very particular. He wants his italian from my kitchen. We have a birthday dinner tonight and I did not get to choose. We are going to Ariana's. Guess I will bring extra vino
          and order a salad. A wonderful pastry chef made the cake we are bringing, so I know I will not leave hungry!

            1. re: Difromphilly

              Maryanne is amazing!! A true artist. Trained at LBF. Was at Gianni Brothers in Blue Bell when I found her. She did a cake for my grandson's baby shower that had people swooning. She sells out of Zacharia's in Worcester now. I can't wait for dessert tonight and I NEVER eat desserts!!! :-D

      2. Can you go to Talutto's? It is an Italian deli with FRESH homemad pastas including stuffed shells, mushroom ravioli, cheese ravioli, crab ravioli etc, chicken parm, eggplant parm etc and wonderful sauces. They have fresh salads too. You can easily make at home and it is easy and wonderful. One of the best kept secrets in Montco.
        530 Foundry Road in the West Norriton Industrial Park 610-630-6788

        Here is the webpage for their other locations:
        http://www.phillyitalianmarket.com/ma...

        Montcorealtor- who is your pastry chef? and tell me about that cake!

        1 Reply
        1. Not sure where you are in in Montco, but I would try Maggiano's at KoP, Stefano's in Huntingdon Valley, Scoogi's in Flourtown, or Buca di Pepp in Plymouth Meeting/Norristown.

          16 Replies
          1. re: littlecmad

            Where is Stefano's in HV? That is not far at all. We are in Lower Gywnedd.

            1. re: montcorealtor

              i would recommend skipping maggiano's. what is the draw to this place? i am also not a fellini's fan (sorry idia!)... i've been to three locations and i just cannot get into them. i cook a lot of italian food at home (family is italian) and i made better marinara as a wee kid.

              i dunno if it's in montco or delco, but i seem to be one of the few who ever mentions ristorante primavera. do other people just not like them? i think their marinara sauce is just fantastic. if i had to pick another italian place in this area, i'd pick trattoria san nicola, but it's a very, very, very distant second.

              1. re: rabidog

                I think people forget it's there. It's not fashionable, and people eat out so much that we gravitate to the new. I've been going to Primavera in Wayne since my first date with my husband (1990). Primavera & San Nicola are probably our favorites as well, although it's hard to get inspired about it since it's so much like what we'd make at home.

                Also: the one in Wayne is probably in Delco - Radnor Twp. Maybe Chester County - Tredyffrin Twp. It'a really close to the border, which might be at Old Eagle School Road. But not MontCo - too far south and west. Figuring out the municipalities is ridiculously confusing.

                1. re: Mawrter

                  yep, i think you're right on the location. it's only a block or so past old eagle school, must be delco.

                  they just recently re-did their awning which does make them stand out a bit more.

                  the food is very good - though the decor is slightly dated. simple red sauce food and an ambiance a little less casual than many of the south philly places, but better than most of them. i prefer their marinara waaaaay over villa di roma, as good if not better than marra's, and about on-par with criniti. it's perfect for a romantic dinner without the hype, or a business lunch. we go there all the time, and the waiter remembers exactly how me and my boss 'tweak' our favorite dishes - extra capers for me! :)

                2. re: rabidog

                  Yo rabidog: Don't say sorry to me. Read my first sentence again. I'm right on your team. I don't like Fellini's and totally diss Maggianos. But these places are constantly mobbed so I guess someone likes them!
                  I am the one who believes that there isn't even ONE fine Italian restaurant in the entire burbs.
                  Not one!

                  1. re: idia

                    haha, gotcha. good, at least someone seems to be with me on maggiano's! i mean, i'd seriously rather just come home and make plain old pasta (which i always have a dried, boxed stash of) that even plain - no sauce, no butter, no nothing - i can still make better!

                    1. re: rabidog

                      Oh, I assume your opinion is the default around here, but sometimes I get surprised. I've never really eaten at one, to be totally honest, but I don't feel that I need to.

                  2. re: rabidog

                    I must confess that i hear great things about ristorante primavera (wayne)and have gone by twice to glance at a menu. Yet I haven't been able to get up enough interest to actually go eat there. One thing i noticed is the decor is blah, rather outdated. But the real kicker for me is - they are never busy! I know this doesn't necessarily mean bad food or bad anything but, it just makes me hesitate and we have yet to eat there. Same with Bunha Faun in Malvern (french cuisine), which we did try. Great food, great service! But i haven't wanted to go back as it was uncomfortable in the restaurant being us and one other table! Does this make sense?

                    1. re: snowy11480

                      Snowy11480,

                      I go to Primavera often, including last week. Say hello to the owner/manager, Angelo, when you walk in. I actually like the decor. Pastas are very good and fairly inexpensive. You can get inexpensive half portions. It is very busy on friday and saturday, pretty quiet the rest of the week. Older crowd. I have had very good, chicken and veal dishes there.

                      Same for Bunha Faun, never crowded, but have had many excellent meals there over many, many years.

                      Let me know if Primavera works for you or not.

                      1. re: snowy11480

                        eek, i'm going to agree with waynefoodie on most points. it is mostly an older crowd, and i'm 25 - but i don't care, the marinara sauce keeps me coming back. yeah, if they revamped the decor for a more trendy, young crowd i'm sure they'd get more business, but i'm pretty happy with my quiet little lunch space. only caveat is they can be a bit... leisurely... if you're in a hurry, or on a business lunch. but i'd definitely check them out. never had a bad meal there.

                        certainly a million times better than georges across the way, even tho you'll find a much nicer ambiance (and the prices are twice as much).

                        1. re: rabidog

                          ITA with Waynefoodie & Rabidog. Angelo is the manager @ Primavera and has been there since the doors opened in the 80s. I agree that it's not an edgy menu, and I don't know if I would seek it out, myself, if it weren't already a tried-and-true regular stop.

                          I also wonder about the "never busy" comment ... I wonder how you are judging that, since parking is in the back.

                        2. re: snowy11480

                          I definitely plan to give the place a chance, as i hear their food is excellent paired with good prices. I shouldn't have said 'never busy' - i've walked in twice to look at a menu and both times there were only a handful of folks in the restaurant (one was a friday night, the other a sunday). Can't help that this makes me hesitate when I haven't been somewhere. But I definitely appreciate the input from you guys and will post when i give the place a try!

                          Oh, and waynefoodie - agreed about Bunha Faun, excellent meals there.

                          1. re: snowy11480

                            Dear Snowy11480,

                            Thanks for the comment. They are both good value places to eat.

                            Make sure to say hi to Angelo! He does not work Mondays.

                            Cannot wait to go to back to Bunha Faun.

                      2. re: montcorealtor

                        I would pass on Scoogi's. Olive Garden is probably better.

                        1. re: Den

                          I have been to Scoogi's. It is a lunch stop for several of us occasionally. It is a place where I stick to salad only. I guess that says it, right? The only chain restaurant we will visit is Morton's

                        2. re: montcorealtor

                          Stefano's:

                          2519 Huntingdon Pike, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006
                          Tel: (215) 914 1224

                          Huntingdon Pike is also known as Rt. 232 -- Stefano's is on the stretch of 232 that is between Byberry Rd. and Old Welsh Rd. (rt. 63, I think).

                      3. From the Boot in Lafayette Hill. Arpeggio in Springhouse. Both excellent, and reasonably priced.

                        15 Replies
                        1. re: G Goo

                          Please skip Maggiano's, Scoogi's and ESPECIALLY Bucca di Beppo, that is some of the worst food (Italian or otherwise) I've ever had. I ate there because I was invited to someone's birthday party and it was held in the ever-so-tacky Pope room. It was hard to eat to say the least. Primavera and San Nicola are good choices, but alas, fairly far to travel from Montco. Come to my house and let me make you some of my lasagne with Bolognese meat ragu, bechamel sauce and hand-made sheets......or, as I've said, head to South Philly!

                          1. re: Schpsychman

                            Where is San Nicola? Sounds like you need to open a take-out business! I thought Bucca di Beppo went out of business. We had lunch yesterday at Bacco on 202. YUCK!

                            1. re: montcorealtor

                              i thought it was just the center city buca's that went out of business?
                              i don't seem to find them as offensive as maggiano's or olive garden. perhaps because there is more for a vegetarian. i actually think the baked ravoili is not half bad. and though i'm no interior decorator, i actually like the decor and cozy booths. lately i've been leaning towards fish/seafood dishes, but you have to order within the limitations of a chain. i would never, ever order anything seafood. i would stick to stuff that's passable after freezing, and stick to really, really simple stuff. anyway.

                              2 san nicolas -- one is next to basil in paoli, the other is around the berwyn curve, both on lancaster ave. they're both semi-hard to find, berwyn because it's tiny, and paoli because it's a tiny bit tucked away in there.

                              you know, basil rarely gets mentioned and i often forget it's there. i haven't been in over 2 years. is it any good?

                              1. re: rabidog

                                The Bucca di Beppo near me (East Norrton on 202) is still open and after my one and only dining experience, I would never waste money there again (my grandmother already rolled over in her grave once and once is enough!). And as for Bacco on 202 in North Wales, YUCK is right! Why would anyone eat Italian food at a chain anyway???

                                1. re: Schpsychman

                                  Sometimes we do not get to choose our dining destination in business! Bleh! That is all I can say today about that experience. Plus the napkins are PEACH colored. Somebody help me!

                                  1. re: Schpsychman

                                    I don't know about the regular menu food at Bacco but I went there for the 1st time yesterday solely to try the wood fired oven pizza. IMO, it was pretty darn good. Don't know about the rest of the food but I would certainly go there again for the pizza.

                                    1. re: Den

                                      The stick to the pizza I say. If you try anything else (especially anything in red "sauce" or "gravy" and I use the quotation marks on purpose) you will be sorely disappointed in my opinion. In fact they could call it "Bacco di Beppo" and it would be fitting......

                                    2. re: Schpsychman

                                      Agreed. I went to the one in East Norriton a few years back and once was enough. Awful. Did not like the food and found the atmosphere insulting (being Italian). Maybe that's just me.

                                      1. re: JanR

                                        No, it's not just you, I agree with you wholeheartedly Jan. Being Italian as well I often find "Italian" restaurants insulting as well. No, we don't all say "hey, how youz doin'?" when greeting people and want to eat "Chicken Parm" (which isn't even Italian for heaven's sake). It is the most popular cuisine in America yet, in my opinion, the most consistently bad. Why is it that my Sicilian grandmother with a 6th grade education could make food like no one's business but restaurants, even high-end ones, with chef's can't?

                                        1. re: Schpsychman

                                          I had no idea that chicken parm is not an authentic italian dish - I'm blushing-!

                                          1. re: Displaced California Foodie

                                            It is an Italian-American invention. Often quite good, but not really authentic.

                                    3. re: montcorealtor

                                      Just adding the links to both San Nicola locations. HTH. I hear the chef/owner is usually in Paoli these days, which may make a diff.

                                      -----
                                      San Nicola Trattoria Rstrnt
                                      668 Lancaster Ave, Berwyn, PA 19312

                                      San Nicola Restaurant
                                      4 Manor Rd., Paoli, PA 19301

                                      1. re: Mawrter

                                        thanks - that's worthwhile info, considering the two are only minutes apart (well, if you drive like me, which is badly and hastily). i think i've only eaten at the berwyn one, now that i think about it. but the paoli one looks a little more updated, and certainly larger, at least from the outside.

                                        1. re: rabidog

                                          Yes, Paoli is a *lot* larger - it must seat three times as many people.

                                2. I agree with all the posts about San Nicola. Great food. Also, Sorrento's in Lafayette Hill has never dissapointed.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Tony K

                                    Interesting you mention Sorrento's. I never see an cars in the parking lot when I drive by.

                                    1. re: JanR

                                      You must drive by at the wrong times. It's always packed when I'm there.
                                      Come to think of it, I guess I go at the wrong times!

                                  2. Trinacria on DeKalb Pike in Blue Bell, though expensive, was good the last time I was there (admittedly, some time ago.)

                                    1. Has anyone tried Trattoria Guiseppi in Edgemont? Delco. The place is always packed from 4:30 PM onward. Reservations are a must. I've had the chicken parmesan that was very good, IMO. I had a caesar salad on another occasion and was extremely dissapointed.
                                      Let me know your thoughts.

                                      1. I've eaten at a majority of the restaurants mentioned already, My Opinion:
                                        - San Marco : Overpriced and the food I had was average, my wife did enjoy her food.
                                        - Trinacria : Also overpriced and ok food and not such great service
                                        - Bucca De Beppo : Chain restaurant and average at best.
                                        - Maggianos : Even though it's a chain I actually enjoy a few of the dishes
                                        - La Campagnola : Overly garlic

                                        And the best in my opinion, Ristorante Castello. I ate there because of all the recommendations on chowhound and everytime I've really enjoyed the food.
                                        This past weekend we ate at the new Cravings Cafe (not sure if it's considered italian) but everyone really enjoyed their food.

                                        3 Replies
                                          1. re: crazyspice

                                            Not anymore. They now have their liquor license, but I will say they have fairly good prices on their wines. I would agree that Castello's, along with Il Melograno in Doylestown, are the best Italian's in the Montco/Bucks area. Bocelli's in Gwynedd (and now I hear in Chestnut Hill) is pretty good. And BTW, don't waste your time at places like Pagannini's or Doamni Star in Doylestown, overpriced and average at best.

                                            1. re: Schpsychman

                                              I am curious, so I think we will have lunch there tomorrow, provided they brew their iced tea. Deal breaker for us.

                                        1. How about Teresa's Cafe in Wayne? I've been twice- good pizzas and they had a pasta with a short rib gravy. That was tasty.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: JCap

                                            My husband and I met another couple for dinner this past saturday night and really enjoyed Teresa's Cafe. We started with the calamari which was yummy (the sauce with it wasn't impressive though). My eggplant dish was excellent and my balsamic salad was as well. Good bread w/ seasoned olive oil for dipping. For Dessert, my husband ordered Tiramisu which he really liked. For his entree, he had the lasagna (boring but a classic:)) and said it had a great flavor but not quite enough sauce.

                                            The restaurant is still a BYOB but do offer wine by the glass now too. (I can't remember if they have a corkage fee or not - sorry!) One issue - Its loud in there (high ceilings, crowded, etc) so be prepared for that. I'm not Italian though and definitely no expert as to the foods authenticity but overall, we had a really nice experience there and definitely plan to return.

                                            ps - Don't get confused and go into Teresa's Next Door (its adjoined) because it does not have italian food.

                                          2. Steer clear of Fellini's in Ardmore!
                                            I went there recently and the service was AWFUL! I've been there several times (being the closest, more reasonably priced, non-Bertuccis italian near my college) over the years, and its never been anything like it was the last time I was there. Here's what happened.
                                            1) Opened for Sunday lunch 10 minutes late
                                            2) Both waiters were late
                                            3) The chefs were 30-40 minutes late
                                            4) We waited over an hour and still didn't get our food
                                            5) When we had to leave for another appointment, we asked for the food to be boxed. They didn't knock anything off our bill, even though we were there for 1.5 hours and had to get our food to go.
                                            I was hearing rumors that the management changed? Is that true? Either way, it was a disaster. Primavera in Ardmore is better! Excellent sangria and its a really pretty restaurant as well.

                                            1. I am not sure where you are in MontCo, but in Lionville (Chester County), there is a little tucked away restaurant called Allegra. My family and I usually take people there. Its BYOB and the chef is from Sicily and his wife and daughters are waitress. Great food, great atmosphere, and EXCELLENT tiramisu.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: asf5017

                                                We are in Lower Gwynedd. Chester County is a hike for us.

                                                1. re: asf5017

                                                  I second Allegra. A bit hard to find and might be a bit of a dive from MontCo, but worth it.

                                                  1. re: percyn

                                                    Allegra is tough to find! I drove by it all the time for years and didn't even know it was there until my husband heard about it from someone. Have clear directions before you head that way. Its barely visable from the main road.

                                                    1. re: percyn

                                                      Allegria is pretty good. Owners live upstairs. It is small and charming, and they have some very good dishes. I've read elsewhere on these boards that people claim the owners have some attitude issues. We eaten there maybe 15-20 times over the last two years and never really had any serious issues. Not really that hard to find--Mapquest it. It is a 17 mile drive from where we live in Royersford but it i sone of our regulars. Our go-to three restaurants are Mimosa in West Chester, Allegria in Lionville, and our third was Ravennas--now replaced with Zacharias (which we believe is a bit overpriced). We are still looking for a third go-to place that delivers for the money. We have gone to Birchunville Cafe, and yes it is good, but I leave hungry and it is cash only; thus, it is not on our short list. Others we visit, Twin Bays Cafe (Phoenixville, good but a bit overpriced), Majolca (sp? in Phoenixville, a bit overhyped), and a few others for special occasions, but again not a default kind of place. I think $100/$115 for two is fair for a good experience in the suburbs. We have been to Alba's in Malvern once and enjoyed it and that may become our third go-to. I cannot bring myself to drive in the city anymore for a relaxing weekend dinner with the spouse. What is relaxing about sitting in traffic, wasting gasoline, and then having to drive an hour back Suburbs need better independents at fair prices. Restaurateurs: build it, and they will come.

                                                  2. Trinacria in Blue Bell(expensive), From the Boot in Lafeyette Hill(BYO and really affordable), and Borghi's in Chalfont which has the BEST calamari I have had in quite a long time(moderately priced good portions)!!!

                                                    1. Perhaps a bit of a hike from Lower Gwynedd but Hatboro has two good Italian restaurants.Venezia on the border of Willow Grove and Hatboro, and Cafe La Fontana in the heart of Hatboro. Fontana is very friendly with our favorite mussels in red sauce. Ask for a spoon. Venezia (BYOB) offers specials like whole bronzino baked in a salt crust that even people who dislike seafood really enjoy. (That would be me!)
                                                      Allegro Grill in Maple Glen also has a pleasant atmosphere and good food. Don't get me wrong...these are not great restaurants but each of them has something to commend them and are definitely worth checking out. When you don't want to make it yourself they are very good alternatives.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: caitlinhc

                                                        We have gone to Allegro Grill a number of times. The last several visits were quite disappointing. The service was poor and they seem to have lost their food passion.

                                                        1. re: crazyspice

                                                          Jut had Mother's Day dinner at Borghi's in Chalfont (202 & 152) and it was quite good. It was expensive and the food was conservative but it was very good. Nice small little bar area and a pretty dining room, I would recommend giving them a try.

                                                          1. re: Schpsychman

                                                            I've said it before, but I love Borghi's calamari!!

                                                      2. Mediterraian in Horsham, Piccolo Trattoria in Newtown and Taromina's in Richboro.