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Radice in Blue Bell Wow!

We tried Radice last night for dinner. I had high hopes because I love the concept of Rustic Italian cooking in a wood burning oven, like Peasant in New York or Lulu's in SF. Although this restaurant is like neither one of those two places it was fantastic. The oven is huge and much of the kitchen and the oven are open and in view of the dining room. The menu consists of a number of small plates, pizza, and a short list of entrees. We had a salad of thinly sliced red beets, shaved fennel, shaved celery root and the most delicious dressing. The minestrone soup had a light delicious parmesan infused broth with beans cooked perfectly al dente, pasta and vegetables, so simple, so delicious. The baked oysters were so good we sopped up every bit of of that dish with bread. The shiitake mushroom gratinee with truffle oil, chick peas was fantastic.
They make all of their own pasta. Their version of lasagna was like something my husband and I had in Florence on our honeymoon, a loose pile of homemade noodles, a light bechamel, tomato sauce and ricotta. Ricotta/potato gnocchi in gorgonzola sauce were and unusual tube shape and great. The pizza was thin crusted and had a lot of flavor, but it was thin and chewy and I do prefer something crispier. We had the fontina, basil, mushroom pizza. Next time we will ask if they can let it get darker in the oven. The man making the pizzas was a pizziola from Italy per our waitress..

We had cannoli for dessert and they were light, delicious and tasted of limoncello. We also had roasted peaches with homemade vanilla gelato in a very thin pistachio cookie cup, that was a perfect dessert.

Their wine list needs improvement. I had two wines by the glass that were the quality of box or jug wine. For nine dollars per glass, one would expect higher quality wine. There was a very small list of bottles. They had a full bar and a nice but short list of beer by the bottle.

The service was great and you wouldnt have guessed that they have been open for only one week. I am thrilled to have a restaurant of this caliber in my neck of the woods.

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  1. Sounds fantastic, where exactly in Blue Bell is it?

    4 Replies
    1. re: AmblerGirl

      Rt 202 just north of 73, same shopping center as Korea Garden and Talbots.

      Korea Garden
      1720 Marlton Pike E, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003

      1. re: thehungrything

        Just to be clear, Talbots is at 202 & 63 in English Village. Radice is further south on 202 in Blue Bell.

        1. re: thehungrything

          On Route 202, between 73 and Morris Road. If you are on 202 and facing that entrance to MCCC (Montgomery County Community College), it's to the right.

        2. re: AmblerGirl

          it took over the Bourbon spot. Same shopping center as Myrna's and Quest Labs.

        3. Can't wait to try it. Was waiting until I saw some reviews on Chowhound. Thanks for posting.

          1 Reply
          1. re: curly girl

            Sounds great! Thanks for posting...pray they make it too!

          2. I have to agree with you, thehungrything. I, too, was very pleasantly surprised. I have long hoped for excellent food in this area. Radice certainly fits the bill. We were there last night as well. Like you, my wine was not the best, however, the wine list looked impressive and I would like to try something else next time.

            The food is what will keep us coming back. My polenta with greens was out of this world (and quite big for a small plate). I also had a very good salad with arugula, spiced walnuts, pecorino, fig vinegar, and topped with crispy prosciutto. My husband had a salad with bibb lettuce, blue cheese dressing and smoked bacon (the corvato, I think), which he liked very much. He also loved the bracciolini and the sausage dish he had. I originally thought I wanted the oysters but was starting to fill full. Now that I read your review, I'm sorry I didn't order them. Although the desserts look fabulous, I only had a cappuccino, which was one of the best I've had in a long time. Can't wait to go back when I'm paying less attention to calories.

            The room is pretty, and It was nice to watch the chef out front of the oven, along with her sous chef.

            The bill was quite reasonable for all that, around $80 before tip. Our young waiter, Steve, was absolutely charming. We are going to ask for him the next time we go, which will be soon.

            One last note: the owner, Toto Schiavone, was very much in evidence. He seemed to be making sure everything ran smoothly. It looks like he runs a tight ship. Steve tells us he likes working for him though. Sounds tough but fair. I will say I was pleased to see him there, however he did not seem pleased that we had been placed at a four top, and I think I saw him say something about that to Steve -complete with pointing at us and then at the empty two tops (not the waiter's, the hostess put us there). My husband was so uncomfortable at that point that he asked me if I wanted to switch tables. We were already eating by then and I said no. It was quite busy last night but I did have the slightly uncomfortable feeling of being rushed, especially when Toto came over and tried to remove our menus (it is a small plates restaurant, after all). When I said we wanted to order more, Signore Schiavone pressed us to do it quickly. We were at our table for no more than 1-1/2 hours, btw and I did see him do the same to a table of four which had a very well behaved child with them. The only sour note to an overall great meal. If this happens next time we go, we will sadly have to write them off our list. "Sadly" because food this good is rare in the suburbs.

            7 Replies
            1. re: JanR

              OMG - I would have been very upset - to have the owner haunting me while I was eating???!!! Hmmm - may have to rethink this place. If you're reading these reviews, Mr. Schiavone, please take note. Paying customers see everything.

              1. re: curly girl

                Curly girl,

                I'm with you. I think that behavior by an owner is completely out of line. Any issues that he sees should be handled behind the scenes and he certainly should not be pointing at his customers let alone rushing them out.

                To me that is much more than just a sour note that would have overshadowed my eating experience.

                1. re: mitchh

                  Perhaps it's the Customer Service Manager coming out in me. I ran a call center for many years and had to reprimand several of my representatives for being rude to customers. One even went as far as yelling at them and I received a few callbacks from the customers directly to me. I know La Campagnola has received similar negative reviews, but they seemed to have improved in that area and we still go there on occasion.

                2. re: curly girl

                  Toto Schiavone was very obviously present in the dining room when we were there and he seemed to be making a point of talking to each table. We didnt have the same experience of feeling rushed out. That would definitely have made me mad, too. His wife was also in the dining room but she made herself unobtrusive. He was making himself the public face of the restaurant, although I read in Michael Klein's column that he, his wife, and the chef are all owners.
                  We met the general manager who was extremely friendly to us. Hopefully they wont make it a habit of treating customers this way.

                  1. re: thehungrything

                    I think he may have been angry that we were sitting at a four top. The hostess led us to it when we came in and it was already set for two. We didn't demand it. I say this because, even before the pointing and rushing incident, I said "the food is great" as he walked by and he didn't smile or look at me, just muttered "thank you". I'm pretty turned off.

                    1. re: JanR

                      Well I believe that even though first impressions are extremely important, everyone deserves a second chance. Perhaps he was just having a bad day, his puppy died (sure hope not) or the heat got to him. Let's see if we hear any similar comments going forward. I plan to go there within the next few weeks and my eagle eyes don't miss much :) Stay tuned to The Chow

                      1. re: curly girl

                        Will do. I'm hoping it changes because, as I said, the food is great and it's nice to have a good restaurant nearby.

              2. We ordered 6 small plates and a bottle of wine. Wine was good and sommelier was helpful. Bread did not come for 45 minutes. First plate, oysters came out cold after one hour. Waited 15 more minutes for mushrooms, they were hot. Another 10 minutes went by and got lasagna, dish was hot. Waited maybe 20 more minutes and last 3 dishes came out. Braccioli was cold and inedible. Other dishes were ok. Waiter, manager and owner were all very apologetic. Sent over desserts and after dinner drink. Desserts had no taste. The food basically was bland and all the same seasonings were used in the dishes, no variation. Good idea for a small plate restaurant. They need to get it together. Would not go back.

                2 Replies
                1. re: kennyro


                  You're a better patron than I am. If my first course didn't come out after 30 minutes I would have paid for my wine and left.

                  Did the manager or owner offer you anything?

                  1. re: mitchh

                    Hi, Mitch - good to see you on here again. Since you seem to be a foodie and dine out often, I have to ask - and perhaps you have already posted - what are your top 5 area restaurants - BYOB or other. Thanks

                2. We were back Friday night and had another great meal. Both times we were there we ate early, 530 or 6pm, and the service and pace went smoothly.

                  1. Went last night.. food was very good no complaints. Had the grilled octopus, scallops, pizza with zuchini, gnochi and the salad with the prosciutto. Staff was reasonable friendly and the place was packed at 7:30pm - midsummer in Blue Bell... unheard of. Anyway - only issue was time. We waited WAY to long in between them bringing out the plates.. Toto stopped by but didnt introduce himself. the food, and the desserts - were good.. so was the bread. Just too slow. We didnt get home - which is across the street until 9:45pm. 4people, with a reservation, middle of the week, mid august, in blue bell.....

                    Will try it again, will pray for faster service.

                    1. i was there 2 weeks ago and the food was great. everything we had was cooking perfectly and we enjoyed ourselves. the only problem is the prices on drinks. they were priced as if we were in center city. also the service was not too hot. i know they just opened but it seemed like everyone that worked there had no clue what they were doing. they should have hired some people that have experience in the business.

                      1. Worth a second try. Radice was full on this Saturday night, but service was prompt and friendly, food came quickly, and no one begrudged our lingering over the cheese plate and coffee.
                        It was big and crowded, more bluehaired BlueBelle than BlueBellette. My hopes rose when there was good Italian bread among the selection in the bread plate, and the
                        dipping oil was forgivable - full of fresh green spices and light on the garlic. My wife loved her zucchini-onion-pesto-parmesan minipizza ("pizette"); myself, I think that eating pizza for supper is the same as eating pizza for supper. And she loved her barley-celery-fennel soup, though I found it underflavored, albeit improvable with salt. I liked her chick pea, mushroom and truffle oil dish: but while hearty and fulfilling, it was not nuanced. Which pretty well sums up the evening before the cheese plate arrived. For myself, the five baked oysters were overwhelmed by their crusty baked parmesan, but who doesn't like good crusty baked parmesan cheese? And the scallops were quite lost in their scampi, overwhelmed by its garlic - I couldn't eat them. And the spiedino sweetbreads with fried parsnips - these days, when so few restaurants remember their parsnips, can I blame them if the sweetbreads were entirely tasteless?
                        The cheeseplate was something else: pick 3 of 7 Italian cheeses for $13 - enough cheese for 4, really. All of them interesting, and the perfect counterpoint to the Italian roast coffee and decaf. The cheese plate triggered a visit from Toto Schiavone, who delighted in detailing the particulars of their manufacture, their provenance, the aging process, the atmosphere of the caves, the use of must, lees, and dregs, and their influence on the coloration of the rind, the nature of the beasts involved and the resulting character of the curds... It was wonderful to share cheese with so enthusiastic a missionary, who radiates love of food and loves to talk about it.
                        Of the alcohols: a very interesting Belgium-style dark beer; a watery vodka and tonic; a tasty, fruity not very complicated Italian sauvignon blanc, more suited for party sipping than for dinner.
                        The total for our exploration came to $100. I would be happy to go back; I suspect that in this very varied menu there are some things they do very well, things we haven't tried yet - the salads? the mullet? dessert?

                        1. After all the great reviews..we gave it a try tonite!! Early on a Sunday nite...the place was very empty...except for the waitstaff...over 10 people milling around with nothing to do!
                          After much discussion with the waitress about vegetarian options...we ordered polenta and 2 different pizzas. She then brought bread and dipping pesto/oil. She described the pesto and poured the oil over it.....One bite told me that there was something fishy......when i asked if there were anchovies...she said she would find out. She promptly returned to say that yes in fact the chef said there was a "tiny bit" in the pesto....an annoyance to me but really scary if one had any fish allergy. Pizza came and was fine....tho it suddenly hit me that I should ask if the polenta might have chicken stock( tho i had been assured it was vegetarian)..she again left to check with the chef and returned to let me know that indeed it did!!! Actually I could overlook these things....tho it is best if the waitstaff knows the menu and ingredients....What was difficult to overlook were the 10 waitpeople with nothing to do....congregated nearby having rather loud conversations for the first 20 minutes of our meal.... Both the waitress and manager were very apolgetic...
                          Nice place...beautiful...not sure that we will return!

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: ilovesummer

                            I don't find it odd that the restaurant is empty on a Sunday night. It's not the most popular time for folks to go out to eat. I'm not a vegetarian, so I can't empathize with you about the chicken stock and anchovies. I doubt that most wait staff know the ingredients of every dish on their menu. We've eaten many times with a friend who has celiac disease and she makes it a point to question everything she's thinking about ordering before she places her order. I'd be willing to bet that 8 out of 10 times the server has to go to the kitchen to verify the ingredients of the food she's questioning. I think the onus is on you to make sure you're not getting something that you don't want. I haven't been to Radice but it's definitely on my list. I just may go on a Sunday if it's as empty as you indicate.

                            1. re: bucksguy14

                              Really? I always find empty restaurants depressing. This one is huge.

                              1. re: JanR

                                the emptiness didn't bother me at all...as it did start to fill up later on...what DID bother me was the 10 waitpeople standing close by discussing their personal lives and the best stations to have at the restaurant for tips, etc....not what i go out to dinner to hear....
                                i did question things....the polenta for instance and was told it was vegetarian....and as far as dipping pesto i can't imagine ANYONE thinking that this would be anything but vegetarian friendly!
                                again...nice place....interesting food...i just think it needs some time...

                            2. re: ilovesummer

                              After reading these reviews/posts, I have to say that I agree 100% with ilovesummer. Why would anyone - vegetarian or otherwise - want fish/anchovies in the pesto that is served with the oil for bread dipping??? I believe that all waitstaff should be well-versed on the ingredients of the dishes that they are serving. It is the management's responsibility to make sure they are provided with these very important details. I also wholeheartedly agree with the fact that if the staff is not busy, they should certainly stand around in a group to discuss their personal lives and/or how much tip to expect from the clientele. What they should be doing IMO is making sure that the salt and pepper shakers are filled, the place is tidy, or doing something to help out in the kitchen. Again - management should make sure that if the staff is not busy, they should at least act like they are or present a positive image to the paying customers. As everyone is aware, restaurants are closing around us on a daily basis. If you are not presenting a positive image to paying guests, those same guests will spread the word to others and your restaurant will go downhill fast. I give new places two tries. And if my experience is good, I will do my utmost to spread the word about the restaurant - which is what I have done recently for Mina Cucina Rustica in Spring House, Parkside Grille in Harleysville and several other area restaurants. Wake up Radice owners and management. The negative comments about you on The Chow outnumber the positive comments. Time for you to take action if you truly care about your customers.

                              1. re: curly girl

                                Nicely said curly girl, Ritter Sport I have had the same less than great experiences. I will say no more and yield to your reviews.

                            3. Have been to Radice 3 times since its opening and had a delightful dinner there each time. The interior is inviting, the staff are friendly and knowledgeable, well trained by Toto who will give you a wonderful history of his small Italian village which is the inspiration for this restaurant ....his roots (Radice). Enjoy this much needed, high quality, relaxed atmosphere restaurant in Blue Bell.

                              1. I've had dinner at Radice twice and was underwhelmed both times. I want to like this place. It is pretty inside and convenient for us to get to. Overall, I find the food to be expensive for what you get (3 small scallops on a dollop of polenta for $11, 4 small squid tubes for $8). The Margherita pizza was soggy both times we tried it. The calamari had no grilled taste and was bitter too. The food is just not that flavorful and the quality of the ingredients is average. Of the 15 or so menu items I've tried, none of them were memorable. The true test will be how they do once the initial glow fades. My guess is that there will be a menu change within 6 months to more typical regular sized Italian fare - not that we need another restaurant of this type in the area. I would prefer that they become more fish oriented (like an Estia).