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From the Boot in Ambler - happily reporting back!

AmblerGirl Aug 5, 2009 06:50 AM

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!

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  1. Den RE: AmblerGirl Aug 5, 2009 09:14 AM

    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
      j
      JanR RE: Den Aug 5, 2009 09:58 AM

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

      1. re: JanR
        Den RE: JanR Aug 5, 2009 12:09 PM

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

        1. re: Den
          j
          JanR RE: Den Aug 6, 2009 03:34 AM

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

        2. re: JanR
          e
          EastPA RE: JanR Aug 7, 2009 11:16 AM

          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.

          Thanks

          1. re: EastPA
            bucksguy14 RE: EastPA Aug 7, 2009 08:04 PM

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

        3. re: Den
          d
          ddaavvy1 RE: Den Aug 8, 2010 04:38 PM

          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. j
          jujuthomas RE: AmblerGirl Aug 5, 2009 10:06 AM

          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
            h
            Hellolaura RE: jujuthomas Aug 5, 2009 04:44 PM

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

          2. crazyspice RE: AmblerGirl Aug 5, 2009 06:31 PM

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

            1. Den RE: AmblerGirl Aug 12, 2009 03:16 PM

              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. bucksguy14 RE: AmblerGirl Aug 21, 2009 06:05 AM

                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
                  crazyspice RE: bucksguy14 Aug 21, 2009 07:28 AM

                  Not BYOB, but do they serve wine and spirits?

                  1. re: crazyspice
                    h
                    hillster RE: crazyspice Sep 10, 2009 10:29 PM

                    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
                      j
                      JanR RE: hillster Sep 11, 2009 06:45 AM

                      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
                        bucksguy14 RE: hillster Sep 12, 2009 07:05 AM

                        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
                          h
                          hillster RE: bucksguy14 Sep 14, 2009 01:49 PM

                          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
                          w
                          wordbond RE: hillster Sep 15, 2009 08:33 AM

                          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!

                    2. m
                      misexec RE: AmblerGirl Aug 21, 2009 08:04 AM

                      Feista Pizza on Germantown Ave is much cheaper and delivers for free. Not sure what the lure of From the Boot is. Went once. Not impressed. Oily pasta auce is not something I crave... nor mediocre sevice.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: misexec
                        thehungrything RE: misexec Sep 12, 2009 11:02 AM

                        Cheap but horrible. We had one lunch there this past winter that was so inedible we vowed never to go back. And the service was terrible, and the place was dirty, and the bathroom was scary.
                        The Fiesta on Ridge ave is great however. Cant figure out why the food quality and cleanliness is so different at the two locations.
                        From the Boot is good, not great. It has a lot of hype because it pleases a lot of people. Those who eat at Olive Garden, and those who eat at Osteria, they find a middle ground.
                        The food is good, much better than any Fiesta, but it is not fine dining. I have always had good service there, it is clean and generally it is a good value for the quality of the food.

                        1. re: thehungrything
                          Bacchus101 RE: thehungrything Oct 4, 2010 07:34 AM

                          Regarding From the Boot; I second "thehungrything" in saying it is good not great and that it is a middle ground for Italian American cooking. After reading some of the very negative reviews here it appears that FTB has a consistency problem. Different cooks and servers on different days may produce the wide variance in opinions. It should not happen, but it does. I can say that it has happened to me at places much more aclaimed than FTB. Perhaps inconsistancy and perhaps incorrect the expectations of the customer. Mid range Italiian America.cooking is what to expect. We are all certainly sorry for misleading and causing embarrassment for DisCAFoodie. As a bay area xpat I have found most wonderful food and interesting venues with the authentic feel of "back east" to be very desirable.

                      2. Den RE: AmblerGirl Sep 12, 2009 01:12 PM

                        I wont disagree with those that dont like FTB because it's a matter of taste but IMO, FTB is a solid middle level performer. Yes, it's not fine dining but I don't think that's what they're trying to be. If you want an Italian fine dining experience you're going to San Marco if you want to stay local or you're going downtown. The only thing I would question in some reviews would be only giving a local place one shot before giving up on it.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: Den
                          AmblerGirl RE: Den Sep 13, 2009 05:22 AM

                          I also would like to add that while everyone is entitled to their opinion, many of these negative opinions seem to be based on experiences at the Lafayette Hill location, and not based on the Ambler location. I think its fair to judge the individual restaurants based on their own merits because they may (or may not) provide a different dining experience.

                          1. re: AmblerGirl
                            j
                            john237 RE: AmblerGirl Sep 13, 2009 05:34 PM

                            FTB, food mediocre, ambiance LOUD.

                            1. re: john237
                              Den RE: john237 Sep 14, 2009 10:10 AM

                              Please name a place that's better for the price.

                              1. re: Den
                                h
                                hillster RE: Den Sep 14, 2009 01:52 PM

                                In the very immediate area and for Italian, I hear Roberto's is very good. Again, I prefer to stay in for Italian.

                                1. re: Den
                                  n
                                  nevets RE: Den Sep 14, 2009 04:44 PM

                                  Ariana's in North Wales

                                  1. re: nevets
                                    crazyspice RE: nevets Sep 14, 2009 05:24 PM

                                    Second.

                                    1. re: crazyspice
                                      j
                                      john237 RE: crazyspice Sep 14, 2009 06:14 PM

                                      Third.

                                      Mama D's on 611 is also better.

                                      1. re: john237
                                        bucksguy14 RE: john237 Sep 14, 2009 06:25 PM

                                        I don't think that the three votes for Ariana's answered Den's challenge. My recollection is that the check at Ariana's was definitely higher than the check at From the Boot, for pretty much the same foods.

                                        1. re: bucksguy14
                                          Den RE: bucksguy14 Sep 15, 2009 05:37 AM

                                          As usually happens with these debates, people say such and such a place is mediocre and then offer a place that is 1/3 or more higher in price as the model. Again, FTB at the price point in the neighborhood is not bad IMO. Ariana's and Robertos are both more expensive.

                                  2. re: Den
                                    b
                                    BDavis1128 RE: Den May 11, 2010 10:06 AM

                                    Sorrentos in Lafayette Hill - BYOB, great food for a good price. You must try the spinich!

                            2. j
                              jujuthomas RE: AmblerGirl Aug 7, 2010 09:51 AM

                              I just had to bump this thread up after taking AmblerGirl's reviews to heart (finally, I know) and having dinner last night at FTB. In a word, lovely!
                              We parked down by the Septa station, after all what else are those parking passes for, right? we popped in at Jojo's Java and found it empty with no appealing food on hand so we wandered up the street. didn't want pub food... nope not irish... not indian... Ambler has such a lovely variety of choices these days!!! I said we should try FTB - BINGO! :)
                              there was a 30-45 minute wait for a table but we could sit immediately at the center communal table. we chose that option because I was starving. I got a lovely glass of Pinot Grigio from Italy (103 on the wine list) and just ordered simple pasta entrees b/c that's what we were craving. DH had the penne arrabiata with the whole wheat pasta. I had the Shrimp Marinara. the portions were perfect, the garlic knots delish, the food was great! DH's arrabiata actually had a kick! my shrimp were perfectly cooked and HUGE. Our waitress Alex was lovely. for the two of us it was about $50 w/ tip. We will be back. :-D

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jujuthomas
                                d
                                Displaced California Foodie RE: jujuthomas Aug 8, 2010 04:13 PM

                                Went there mid week- the food was terrible at the Ambler location. Tasted like really old left overs. I was embarrassed because I kept telling my friends how great the food was (I was comparing to the Lafayette Hill location that has gone downhill since the Ambler location opened). I will not be going to either location again.

                              2. d
                                ddaavvy1 RE: AmblerGirl Aug 8, 2010 04:39 PM

                                Please look for a Dec opening

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