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Dec 16, 2010 03:30 PM

Please help us decide: Matyson or Melograno?

Which place would you suggest for "value" (quality of food / preparation for the money)? Other important considerations for us: low to moderate noise-level (don't want to shout to be heard) and having a leisurely dining experience.

At least one of us would probably opt for the tasting menu, if we went to Matyson. In that case, I guess we only know the specific menu that week. How much lead time does each place require for reservations on a weeknight?

Finally, we're looking for recommendations for a wine store nearby with decent selection and prices.


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  1. Though Melograno is probably slightly more affordable, for my money, I would go to Matyson, without a doubt. Matyson's food is great, while, in my opinion, Melograno is more hit or miss. I'm sure there will be others that disagree.

    As for noise, I think they're both a little loud, like most byobs, but noise isn't something that tends to bother me so I don't know if I can advise as to that.

    I've never felt rushed on a weeknight at Matyson, but I'm sure you could also ask when you made your reservation.

    Enjoy your meal, wherever you choose!

    1. my vote is definitely for matyson- i think the tasting menus are a great value. id recommend booking 4 or 5 days ahead, as the weekday dinners fill up fast bc the tastings are so popular. i suppose it depends which weeknight you want...if its a mon/tues you prob have more flexibility

      my favorite wine store in center city is the one inside garces trading co- but you may not consider that 'nearby' since it's at 12th and locust. i think there's a wine and spirits at 19th and market- you'll find something decent there if you know what you want

      2 Replies
      1. re: InSearchOfTacos

        Actually, we'll be staying in Center City and so Garces sounds perfect! We'll definitely shop there for wine for dinner (looks like Matyson is getting the nod at this point).

        Garces' website looks great and I'm wondering if we should go there for lunch one day, or to pick up food our last day, to eat on our trip home to NYC. We leave from the 30th Street Amtrak station. Are there any decent places near the station to get take-out, easy to eat stuff like sandwiches? I'd like to try Paesano's, but I'm having trouble figuring out if either of their two locations is located anywhere near City Center or the 30th Street station.

        1. re: uwsgrazer

          As mentioned below, Paesano's probably isn't too convenient unless you are doing something else in those neighborhoods before you head out.

          RTM is a good idea before you head out. Primo's also has a couple locations downtown and makes good hoagies you could grab. 30th St is a short cab ride or quick El/Trolley ride from pretty much everywhere in Center City. It's probably only a 15 minute walk even from the Primo's at 21st & Chestnut. If you like falafel and it's not shabbos, Mama's near 20th & Chestnut is another idea.

      2. I've eaten at each place just once, liked both. the first thing that strikes me in the comparison is that melograno had more 'energy' in the room, matyson is calmer, more sedate. doesn't make either 'better,' just that sometimes i'd prefer to have the enregy and sometimes not.

        for noise... you might be better off asking non-philadelphians this one! the bar here is set ridiculously high (or is it low?) for noise in restaurants, there are so many loud places that it's hard not to get used to it. I don't remember either place as loud, but that's because the restaurants i do remember as loud skewed my scale.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Bob Loblaw

          Thanks, that's really helpful. I know what you mean -- energy is great sometimes, but then other times call for "sedate". I think this is a sedate occasion.

          1. re: uwsgrazer

            I'd agree that Matyson is less "hectic" than Melograno, but I wouldn't describe it as sedate. I think it's a better choice for food also. Melograno is great for fairly simple, classic Italian, but Matyson is generally more exciting (at least to me). The weekly tasting menus are always great, and a lot of fun.

            As for your Garces Trading Company question, I've eaten there several times, and it's a great spot for lunch. Combining your wine shopping with lunch is a great idea. Paesano's two locations are about equidistant from Center City, not too far, but not super-easy unless you take a cab. There isn't much by 30th St. If you want to get food to go, I'd stop by the Reading Terminal Market before you head over to the station. Also, Garces' newest place JG Domestic, is open for lunch, and is right next to the train station, connected by a bridge/walkway.

            1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

              I'm getting overwhelmed (in a good way) by all the food options!

              RTM sounds great. We'll only be in Philly for about 36 hours so I think we'll go to Garces' to eat lunch and buy wine when we arrive in town. Matyson's for dinner that evening. We'll visit RTM the next morning for breakfast and to pick up food to store in the luggage we'll check at the train station, before we head to the Barnes Collection in Merion. While I'm sure it would be nicer to pick up something fresh just before our departure, at least this way we reduce the anxiety of having to worry about having enough time to find food after the Barnes visit and before our 6 p.m. train departure.

              1. re: uwsgrazer

                Sounds like a lovely 36 hours. What day will your breakfast be at the RTM? There are days when not all merchants are open.

                1. re: Bigley9


                  Open to any suggestions for particular RTM places to check out. A traditional full breakfast with eggs, sausage, homes fries, etc would be great, though we would be open to any local specialities that shouldn't be missed.

                  Also would appreciate recommendations for places at RTM to pick up our dinner. As mentioned, we would need foods that will hold up well as the food won't be eaten till that evening. In addition to savories, any baked goods to suggest? I noticed lots of enticing options on the RTM website

                  1. re: uwsgrazer

                    Great! Everyone is there on Thursday! PA Dutch are only there wed-sat and many folks are closed on Sunday.
                    Breakfast pretty much must be at the Dutch Eating Place - close to Arch Street - Pancakes, Apple Dumplings, Scrapple - wonderful old time BIG breakfasts!
                    Many of the sandwich shops will prepare something "dry" with dressings, juices, etc on the side. Or right next to the Dutch Eating Place is a rotisserie chicken place - also PA Dutch that makes the best non-buffalo style wings. I am sure others will chime in on traveling foods - I mostly eat mine there or within a few minutes.

                    1. re: uwsgrazer

                      Avoid the temptation to go to the Down Home Diner for breakfast. Dutch Eating Place has less seating but worth the wait.

          2. Wine Store: closest location is at 19th and Chestnut. Convenient to both Melograno and Matyson. Not as wide a selection of premium wines as 12th and Chestnut but a decent-enough seelction and I've gotten very good wines there (but if you want a very good chilled white, make sure you have time to chill it yourself first. Their chilled selection is limited).

            I enjoy both Matyson and Melograno tremendously but would recommend Matyson for you, based on your comments. What my SO and I usually do when we go is have one person order the weekly tasting menu, and the other order off the regular menu. That way we get to sample a lot of different food for a great price, and they are very good at staging plate presentation so it isn't awkward if one person has 5-courses coming, the other 3, and stuff like that.

            1 Reply
            1. re: sockii

              Great idea. I love the idea of sampling more food, but was concerned about execution. Your suggestion will give us much more flexibility, in case one of us is only lukewarm on that week's tasting menu. Thanks

            2. l do not know where you are coming from, but if you are even a slightly serious wine person, l would recommend bringing it with you. State stores are a bit archaic, priced on the high end, and selection and staff knowledge can be very poor, can be good, but would not depend on it. By law the employees were not allowed to make recommendations, as of now l do not know.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                The store inside of garces Trading Co actually has knowledgable staff and they have been allowed to actually choose some special selections for that store that are not available in-store elsewhere in the system. Also, if you haven't been to the new Columbus Blvd store (at Snyder, just reopened) I suggest a visit. Has two "wine specialists" on staff - at least one of whom knows his business - and is 75% wine in a much enlarged store. Both of these stores the staff certainly make recommendations. Columbus Blvd can actually rapid chill your wine too.
                That said, my experience at other stores has been atrocious and I prefer Moore Bros (of course only when purchasing wine to drink in NJ or DE!)
                (apparently I am flabergasted that I would say these things about state stores since I couldn't stop saying "actually"!)