Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Philadelphia >
Aug 5, 2009 06:50 AM

From the Boot in Ambler - happily reporting back!

We went to the new From the Boot in Ambler last night, I was so excited to try it, and am so glad I did!

It was a little chaotic so it felt more like a soft opening. There is both an upstairs and a downstairs to the restaurant, and only the upstairs was open. The floorplan of the upstairs dining room was fairly open so there were not that many available tables. For a Tuesday night the place was very crowded, so it was a little hectic and there was a 20-30 minute wait (they only take reservations for parties of 5 or more). Normally that would be aggravating but the host and the rest of the staff were so nice and kept us informed of the status that it was not that bad of a wait. Further, the bar was not yet open (they are BYO until they get their liquor license, planned for this fall) so they had bottles of inexpensive italian wine available free at the bar for everyone waiting. It was a nice touch and made the wait easier for everyone.

The atmosphere was nice and casual. For those of you that remember the former Agave restaurant, it is basically the same layout. They redecorated in warm shades of wood, orange and gold with maps of Italy and black and white photographs on the wall. The menus were really nice (I know, it's random to notice the menus), they were made of soft cork.

The food was great. They served garlic rolls topped with grated cheese and they were so good. We started with the fried calamari and also the roasted peppers. The calamari were great, not too heavy or greasy. The peppers were tasty and homemade (though they served it with plain deli sliced provolone, sharp provolone would have been much better). I ordered veal and peppers - breaded veal with tomato sauce and peppers, so good. Our table also had veal parm, shrimp parm, and a chicken dish with fresh mozarella, provolone, and proscuitto. Everyone loved their meals. Those of us that had breaded dishes loved the breading, it was very flavorful and garlic-y. All meals came with a side of pasta. Their sauce (always a sign of a good italian restaurant) was full of basil and garlic, very good. The only complaint is that my husband thought the pasta was a little heavy. Unfortunately no pasta was made in house ( I asked!).

Service was good, extremely nice and friendly, but you could tell the servers were still learning the menu. Our waiter was great but he could not answer most of our questions on the menu (but he did check to get an answer which is the right way to handle it). But since the restaurant is so new I'll chalk that up to growing pains.

Prices were very reasonable - completely in line with what a neighborhood restaurant should be. Entrees were $11 - $20-ish, appetizers were in the $7-$8 range. They offered sides for the table like meatballs and sausage for $4. They had a huge selection of sandwiches and pizzas too, and a nice lunch menu. Our bill for a table of four was only $90 and we ate really well and left stuffed.

We did not have dessert but they offered your standard italian restaurant selections - cheesecake, tirimisu, etc. They did offer gelato, the gelato of the day was Donatello (hazelnut) gelot which is one of Toto's signature flavors. I would be so thrilled if they served Toto's gelato, it is the best! I asked the server and, as expected, he did not know, but that is ok!

Speaking of gelato, we walked across the street after dinner and had gelato at Cafe Maida. I need to give a shout out to their banana carmel flavor, it was so good. But I digress....

Overall, I am so glad that Ambler FINALLY has a good italian restaurant, a nice local place, with reasonable prices, and most importantly, good food. We have been waiting for a place like this for so long!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Good for Ambler!

    I agree that FTB is good neighborhood type place. We've been customers of the Lafayette Hill location for quite a while but only do takeout because of the normal long wait and the noise level.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Den

      I hope the Lafayette Hill location isn't planning to get a liquor license.

      1. re: JanR

        I don't know whether that would be more chaotic or less?

        1. re: Den

          At least in that location, much less. People like the byob aspect of it.

        2. re: JanR

          Tried to go to the Lafayette Hill location Wed night at 7 PM and the wait was 1 ½ hours! Never have been there and I really want to try it - any suggestions on best time to get there so wait is shorter (<30 min)? Seating for 2 or 3.


          1. re: EastPA

            We usually get there 8:00-8:15 and have never waited more than 15-20 minutes.

        3. re: Den

          Hello to all:

          I am not sure that I am actually doing this correct so please bare with me. My name is David Nabit and I recently purchased my fathers old restaurant back called Switchville Inn located in Jenkintown Pa. This restaurant was the sole reason I went to culinary school and that am now the Exec Chef Owner of David Craigs catering.

          I am sure alot of bloggers may remember the restaurant famous for the flounder stuffed with crabmeat in creamy wine sauce that both gourmet and bon appetit had requested the recipe for as well as aged shell steaks cut to order.

          I am actually tearing up writing this as I made settlement and walked into the dark and dingy restaurant I couldn't think of a better way to pay hommage to my father than like a pheonix rising from the ashes bring back this great reputation Switchville once had.

          Thank you and I hope I did this correctly.

        4. thanks for "taking one for the team" AmblerGirl! So glad you got there and loved it. After your review I'm getting a major craving for some good italian... wonder when we can get to FTB!! :)

          1 Reply
          1. re: jujuthomas

            I can't wait to try it, too! Thanks for the review AmblerGirl!

          2. Thanks for your review! We are very excited to give it a try!

            1. Some folks from my office went to FTB Ambler today for lunch and loved it. One thing to remember.....if you're going back to work afterwards, don't eat the garlic rolls!

              1. We went to the Ambler location, yesterday, for lunch with our grandkids before taking for back-to-school shopping. We've been to the Lafayette Hill location many times. The new location is, by far, a much nicer restaurant. It seats 30 more than LH (85 vs. 55). However, the manager told us that "they're still lined up outside, just like LH". The menus the same, but my wife thinks the marinara sauce is better in Ambler. Two of our grandkids had chicken fingers & fries and wolfed them down. The other had a hoagie that he couldn't finish, which is unusual. We'll definitely be back since Ambler is less than 10 minutes for us! My only regret is that they won't be BYOB.

                6 Replies
                1. re: bucksguy14

                  Not BYOB, but do they serve wine and spirits?

                  1. re: crazyspice

                    Yes they have a bar. Personally I don't get it, but then again, I'm Italian. (I'm also have trouble with my punctuation tonight LOL!) The food is mediocre at best. The don't serve a piece of veal that isn't breaded...need I say more? Its fine to take the family that has low food standards in a town with few options (like Lafayette Hill), but Ambler has some real nice places now. I'm not saying there may not be a good sandwich, but the entrees are not even a B- IMHO.

                    1. re: hillster

                      Agreed. The only reason for the crowds IMO at the LH location is the lack of options and (most importantly) the fact that they are BYOB. It's hard to believe that they will be lining up at the Ambler location. The food (judging by Lafayette Hill) is not that great. It's okay when your only other option is The Lucky Dog- where I had the worst eggplant parmigiana ever.

                      1. re: hillster

                        Low food standards! That's a little petty, don't you think? FTB has decent food for a decent price. It's a great place to take 4 grandkids. They get a nice dinner, they don't have to be concerned with spilling things on a white tablecloth. They don't have to speak in hushed tones. They can enjoy their time together and with their grandparents. We sure wouldn't take them to LBF! Like Doylestown, Ambler is getting some nice places. but there are still some places in Doylestown where grandkids (and grandparents) can have a nice, relaxed, meal without worrying about ruining linens and disturbing other people.

                        1. re: bucksguy14

                          Point well taken. I apologize if I offended. I wasn't trying to be petty. I was simply trying to point out that it is not excellent food. I understand your points about the children. I have three small children. We dine out very often. I prefer louder places, but my children eat exotic food so we have more options available to us fortunately.

                        2. re: hillster

                          Ate there sunday night 9/13...roasted red pepper salad[from a jar with provolone sliced from a roll..deli style..linguine with hot peppers...not hot at all...rolls were like parker house white bread with grease and garlic on top..only thing that was decent was a side of spinach sauteed in oil and garlic. I can,t believe how mediocre this place was..sorrentos on ridge is much better and they,re not so hot!