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I hear Ristorante Castello is moving into the Alison 2 space...

I heard from a source that Ristorante Castello will be either shutting down in North Wales and moving or opening a 2nd location in the old Alison 2 space. Should be good competition for San Marco and a nice addition to local dining.

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  1. That is a gorgeous space, I think Castello would do well in a nice stand alone location (instead of a strip mall).

    10 Replies
    1. re: AmblerGirl

      What is it about this area that people don't think really good restaurants can be in strip malls? Some of the best places in Fl, CA, AZ, to name a few states, that we've been to are located in strip malls. Where did being in a strip mall cause the mind-set in our area that you can't get good food there? I think Castello is in a great location - just about 7 minutes from my home!!

      1. re: bucksguy14

        Maybe you're biased because its so close to your home :) I have no problem with strip malls for every day places but since Castello is a bit more high end, a stand alone building just makes it feel more special.

        1. re: AmblerGirl

          At least somebody will get some use out of the remodeling Alison Barshak did on the place.. I think they may have spent more time planning and remodeling it than it was actually open for..

          1. re: AmblerGirl

            We went there before we moved from the Chalfont area. I think it's a case of perception - if they can't afford to be in a stand-alone space, they must not be that good. It's not the exterior that I'm paying for - unless, of course, we're talking about outdoor dining! But really, I've been in some top end places in other states that are right next door to a supermarket, or sporting goods store. It sure didn't have any effect on the decor or cuisine of the restaurant.

            1. re: bucksguy14

              I agree, Bucksguy, but you have to admit that when you pull into the parking lot and discover that the place you're headed is next to Joann's Fabrics, US Toys and Jim's All-You-Can-Eat Chinese Buffet, it's hard not to make an assumption (grin). Ristorante Castello happens to be one of those gems in an unexpected setting, making it all that much more charming. I'd worry that a move to the old A2 (formerly Marita's Cantina as well) might spoil it.

              1. re: PattiCakes

                One of the side benefits is - no parking issues. Now that Ambler''s becoming the next Doylestown, trying to find parking is no fun. That's no issue for Castello's. In fairness, I never went to A2, so I don't know the parking situation there.

                1. re: bucksguy14

                  A2 is not really Ambler. It's on Bethlehem Pike, near the intersection where Penssylvania Avenue, feeding off the Ft. Washington exit of the turnpike, dumps onto it. There is parking, but I would not call it the best parking situation. If you eat in Ambler, you have all of mainstreet to stroll afterwards; if you eat at A2 & go for a stroll, chances are that you will get hit by a car. And there's no place to stroll to, other than WaWa. That location has a less than stellar history of success as a restaurant.

                  1. re: PattiCakes

                    I'm familiar with the A2 location. You're right that parking's kind of limited and there's no real reason to think about taking a stroll around the Ft. Washington area. The no parking issues I was referring to were in a strip mall. If you can't find parking in Castello's current location, you're not looking! And, while you might have places to stroll along Main St. in Ambler, if your car is blocks away, that may be stroll enough for some people.

                2. re: PattiCakes

                  Precisely - all strip malls are not created equal. I have never even considered Castello's. In part, because I generally don't like to go out for Italian food but also because the location is completely unappealing. If they move, friends will want to check it out and despite the Italian menu, I will go.

            2. re: bucksguy14

              I truely dislike going out to dinner to a restaurant located in a stripmall. I want my evening to feel a little more special than a typical day running errands. Stand alones feel more like a destination for me. Just my opinion.

          2. Went to Ristorante Castello last evening. Not bad for where/what it is. Would suggest if they do move to Alison Two space that they get a liquor license. They are also missing a few of the finer touches that really good restaurants provide, i.e., didn't even ask whether we wanted bottled water, never offered fresh ground pepper, etc. I'm not trying to be picky, but it does make a difference. Food is good, not outstanding, but worth another visit.

            3 Replies
            1. re: sousue

              I actually heard from a usually reliable source that Castello is moving into Alison at Blue Bell, not Alison Two.

              1. re: Jdbc

                And I would add that the "Restaurant for Lease" sign is still up at A2.

                1. re: Jdbc

                  thats a small space
                  how big is their current restaurant?

              2. I like Castello and have eaten there several times. Sometimes when restaurants move and try to "upgrade" they lose the very thing that made them popular. Maybe they go into debt with the new place and have to cut corners. I don't think Cravings Cafe is the same as it was before it moved. Cravings also got a liquor license, and I like BYOB's. It doesn't matter if they are in strip malls. It's all about the food.

                1. Need to do something about the web site. It's still focused on being in a shopping center in North Wales.

                  1. We may give them a second chance... we wrote them off in the old place (despite the GREAT food) because service was lacking and our waiter never returned with change from a check

                    this happened to us TWO TIMES< (we give everyone the benefit of the doubt)
                    we also had the feeling that the maitre'd was doing us some grand favor which inconvenienced him by seating us at a table... on Wednesday night when there were maybe 5 or 6 other tables sat.

                    but with a new place, maybe new staff? (the food is always excellent!)

                    1. Tried the new place recently on a week nite.....Checked the website before we left about BYOB status....and looked as tho there was liquor...so were disappointed when we arrived and it was BYO...Since the place had only a few tables filled decided to run up the street to the liquor store..... The real glitch of the evening was during ordering....I am vegetarian and was not especially hungry that evening...My husband ordered an app and a pasta dish and I ordered the bruschetta along with a special salad of the evening. The waitress seemed flustered and announced "I'm not sure what to do because I have been told you can't order appetizers for dinner"....she quickly ran off to get another waiter who rather than tell me "I couldn't"...tried quite dilegently to have me order something else. He seemed quite defeated when I explained my choice....The app my husband had (can't remember what it was) was great he said...my brushetta was just ok....My salad was wonderful and my husband raved about his pasta dish when it arrived....tho most tables that had come long after us were served before us and our dishes arrived only after we asked....sort of felt like we were being punished for not following the "rules". Am hesitant to return, as we have never experienced this type of service before, and tho the pasta was good....no better than what we have had at Mirna's and From the Boot. Has anyone had similar experience?

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: ilovesummer

                        I often order an appetizer as my entree. Looks like I won't be rushing over to Castello!

                        1. re: ilovesummer

                          I don't get the "rules" on not being allowed to order apps as dinner. I do that all the time. What difference does it make if I order 2 $10 apps or no app and a $20 entree? None! The only rule a restaurant should have is: if we have the ingredients, we'll make it for you. Castello's should do some serious thinking about their "rules".

                          1. re: bucksguy14

                            Exactly, right you are bucksguy14. Perhaps these "rules" are remainders of their strip mall days which they may perhaps find unnecessary and counter productive as they remake their environs and their image with this nice new location.

                          2. re: ilovesummer

                            I'm sorry you had that experience, although ours was the complete opposite. I also like ordering apps for entrees. I had a salad, and all of their pasta dishes can be served app. size. I had the gnocchis in a pink sauce. My husband had a bronzino in a salt encrusted shell. It was expertly broken open, and filet, table side. Our entire meal was wonderful. I hope you try it again.

                            1. re: sb21

                              so are you saying NOTHING was said about ordering JUST appetizers??? interesting...as more than one waiter was adamant that we really couldn't do it!!! not sure i want to deal with that whole attitude no matter how tasty the food....just my thought

                              1. re: ilovesummer

                                to ilovesummer, i mentioned your statement, last evening, to waitress. She said at the beginning they were sort of sticking to your statement, but it wasn't a rule now. However, in the middle of our discussion, a waiter butted in and said that when it's busy, on weekends, they would rather not serve apps as entrees. I did not understand that AT ALL. But we had a wonderful meal again. The 2 women that I was with, had never been there before, and really loved their meals.

                                1. re: sb21

                                  thanks for the update! again tho...seems like really POOR attitude in the place...really not where i choose to spend my money.....too many other places to choose from!

                                  1. re: ilovesummer

                                    Ilovesummer: Agreed, an extremely poor attitude in this restaurant. Within 2 minutes of sitting down and receiving menu's, my friend and I were asked if we were ready to order. Within 5 minutes, no less than 4 other waiters asked us the same question. They were annoyed when we told them we'd let them know when we were ready to order.
                                    My calamari was so overly salted I had to send it back. Waiter told me the chef put 2 sprinklings of salt on it instead of one. So then why did they serve it???
                                    As we were talking, my friends salad plate was taken away -- she wasn't finished but our entrees had arrived at our table waiting to be served. They offered her another salad but she refused.
                                    If this were a new restaurant I could understand some blunders, but this is an established restaurant which has only changed its location. Would not go back

                                    1. re: artrep

                                      See my newly posted review of 63Bistro. I think Castellano must have an owner-chef schism?

                                  2. re: sb21

                                    interesting semi-retraction of THE RULE! I am sure this type annoyance will come back and bite them. With small plates being a big thing now, it seem like an opportunity to get with it. My meals there have been just ok, nothing special and not anywhere close to the quality found at Alison. Apples to Oranges you say, ok right. I certainly wish Castello success but would bet against it in the long run unless they get a bit more customer oriented in actual practice and not just superficaly. Not worth my money or time to engage further: I will wait to hear more positives here before trying it again.

                                    1. re: Bacchus101

                                      We ate at the original location three times and none of the meals were noteworthy. One was exceptionally uninspired; both of us ordered fish which looked, felt and tasted like they had used the individually wrapped frozen fillets from Costco. Add that to the insincere "pretentious airs" of the staff and we see no reason to try the new location.

                                      1. re: RitterSportRules

                                        We went last night with another couple. I was not too enthusiastic, based on these reviews and my one experience in North Wales. Only went because other couple chose. We were pleasantly surprised. The new space in Blue Bell is much nicer than the original, warm and intimate. Service was very good. Most importantly, the food was very good. My arugula salad with shaved parmesan, my husband's spinach salad with goat cheese were delicious. The men both had veal dishes which they thought were excellent. My husband's veal dish was seared medallions in a lemon butter sauce. Tender, juicy and delicious. I loved my gnocchi in a light marinara sauce, and the fourth person enjoyed her fettucine porcini. One of the specials, which we observed being fileted tableside, was a whole branzino. The aroma was tantalizing. Our plates were clean when we finished. Two shared desserts. Ours was a warm apple tart with vanilla gelato which was great. Theirs was a creme brulee, which they seemed to like. Finished with well made cappucinos. As I said, a pleasant surprise. We'll be back.

                                        1. re: JanR

                                          I'm excited to be trying out Castello at the end of the month for my birthday. I had one good and one awful experience at North Wales so this should be interesting. My dining friends have gone several times and they love it.
                                          I'll report back!

                            2. Any updates on Castello or recommended dishes?