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Sep 5, 2012 01:15 PM

A challenge: Fine small, charming, upscale Italian restaurants in the Main Line area

I can only think of Savona -- and that isn't a typical Italian restaurant. So where are they?

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  1. Have you thought of Alba in Malvern. It is small, as charming as Savona, and truly fine.

    2 Replies
    1. re: FrancisdeR

      +1. This is what instantly came to mind as soon as I read the OP.

      1. re: FrancisdeR

        This one is also not exactly on the main line, however, it's pretty close. In Roxborough there is a small family owned Italian restaurant called Casselli's. I wouldn't really call it "upscale" in that it is not a she-she overpriced place. However, it's certainly not a corner steak and pizza joint by any means either. It is a small place, but the big standout is the food itself. It is impeccable. We have NEVER had a bad meal there. I have taken friends and family who live in NY and Los Angeles and even they have been impressed with the food. The chicken marsala is particularly scrumptous. The restaurant is on Ridge Avenue just below Shawmont Avenue.

          1. re: JanR

            Been to Alba. Aperto bit the dust.
            Strange isn't it?

            1. re: arepo

              Have you thought about trying La Porta in Media? Not exactly Main Line but I find it small and charming. Upscale? Uh, no it's a little noisy, but it's part of that McAndrews group of Modo Mio and Paesano's fame. I've been once and am anxious to go back.

              1. re: arepo

                I don't like going to Manayunk. That said, Gemelli (formerly at the Aperto space in Narberth) has moved there. Agiato might be another choice. Joe Scarpone is no longer involved but I've heard that it's good. I know this isn't Main Line but perhaps close enough.

                1. re: JanR

                  I've been to the others but Agiato I never heard of. I will look it up -- and thanks.
                  I did a quick run by and it looks nice enough that I might try it.

                  However, my whole thread was that it amazes me that there is not a truly upscale Italian restaurant on the entire Mainline save for Savona.
                  Wouldn't you think it would be a real success?
                  Strange, isn't it?

                  1. re: arepo

                    Savona Italian??? More like French inspired upscale American.

                    1. re: RitterSportRules

                      The website calls it French and Italian inspired.... Two of the dishes on the sample menu are risotto and agnolotti. And since they are opening a branch in Scarsdale, NY we can just call it pretentious and over priced.

          2. There are 3 nicer Italian restaurants in Berwyn- Fellini's, TiraMisu, and Alfredo's. Sorry to say I haven't tried any of them- tend to cook a lot of Italian/Mediterranean type foods at home.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Adree1

              Fellini's, which I have been to, isn't actually considered an upscale restaurant, is it? I'm not sure about the others.

              1. re: arepo

                Fellini's is certainly more upscale than Mario's, Berwyn Pizza or the other pizza places in town! Did you like Fellinini's?

            2. While not Italian, Kaya Fusion on Brookline in HAvertown never displeases me! Small byob. Local produce etc.


              6 Replies
              1. re: elissat

                All of these posts just prove the point that there is, strangely, not one true upscale Italian restaurant on the Mainline that anyone can come up with besides Savona -- the only one coming close with many fine Italian dishes, but no cigar.

                1. re: arepo

                  Do you think the problem is trying to combine small, charming and upscale? Reminds me of the sign "price, service, selection, please pick two of the three."

                  1. re: jimc

                    True Jimc. After all, we are not Florence or Venice or Rome or Verona are we?
                    Okay, I will amend it to say what I really mean -- upscale.
                    Does that make it easier now to find an upscale Italian restaurant on the Main Line only?

                    1. re: arepo

                      Arepo, what would you consider upscale italian in Center City Philadelphia proper. That might help people compare the quality (or lack thereof) of restaurants.

                      In general, the Main Line has been a desert in terms of ANY good restaurants. The few and far between compete with loads of chains, a dynamic you have less of in the city, and the cost of real estate in the suburbs often is prohibitive...

                      1. re: cwdonald

                        Well for starters, La Famiglia and Vetri would fill the bill.

                        As to the Main Line being a desert of good restaurants, I respectfully disagree.
                        I would say that some to consider worthy would be:
                        Sola/Yangming/Nectar/Silverspoon/Pescatore/George's/Susannah Foo's/Savona and Alba.
                        Stella Blu/Blackfish/The Stone Rose, all of which are actually in Conshy but close enough to be considered Main Line, also are quite worthy choices to consider.
                        Too bad about Aperto closing -- (more than worthy contender).

                        1. re: arepo

                          Have to agree with cwdonald. Generally on the Main Line one is paying a premium for fairly mediocre food. My take is that their audience is one that dislikes going into the city. It has always been a mystery to me why there aren't better offerings in the suburbs but then why should a standout chef hide his/her light under a bushel? And, living so close to the city as those on the Main Line do, wy not just make the effort and drive there.

              2. Not that small, but the old restored bank building is extremely charming, and the food is very nice. Primavera in Ardmore.

                5 Replies
                  1. re: lemarais

                    Yes, but many years ago. I don't remember much about it.

                    1. re: lemarais

                      A very acceptable normal neighborhood Italian restaurant. Nothing more nothing less.
                      Rather indistinctive.

                      1. re: arepo

                        I agree. Basic pasta dishes that I cook at home. Lemon veal piccata was tasty last time I was there. It could be so much more with its brick oven and open environment and nice bar.

                        1. re: arepo

                          Agreed. It's a nice neighborhood place, very decent for lunch and ok for dinner. But certainly not upscale.