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Oct 6, 2013 06:37 AM


Loved LaBan's reference to Big Night in his three bell review today. Perhaps someone will ask why they didn't get a side of pasta with their risotto. Seriously, sounds like we got a good Italian restaurant in the burbs, and I'm sure the crowds will come.

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  1. The local reviews have been much less favorable - complaints about noise and bad service, and hit-or-miss food.

    I'm with you on the Big Night reference - one of my favorite movies, a real gem.

    1. Interestingly Fraschetta received a 3/5 on Yelp and 3.5 on Trip Advisor which are not really great scores. Always wonder if the restaurants selected for review "see him(LeBan) coming"; since his cover has been blow months ago. Would they be able to make a significant difference in their food if on very short notice they did know who they were serving and of the potential consequences?

      4 Replies
      1. re: Bacchus101

        Interesting. This isn't the first time I've been burned by a LeBan review. Did Nichols have a better cover or was he a better judge of food? Wish he was still critic instead of just writing occasional opinion pieces. Although, both of them are much more on target than Tate, if you're old enough to remember her.

        1. re: middleagedfoodie

          l have always seemed to agree more with Rick Nichols than Laban. l still thank Rick for introducing me to Vetri when brand spanking new.

          Elaine Tait was a great writer and again it is more who has your mouth than being on target . She was at my home for dinner in the 80's and was sweet as sugar.

          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            I agree that she was a good writer. She did introduce me to El Sombrero, in Feasterville, which used to be fabulous for down and dirty, semi-authentic Mexican, but, while I am surely in the minority, her championing of Susana Foo turned me against her. I often wondered if she loved it because she was known there.

            1. re: middleagedfoodie

              Certainly agree with you on Susanna Foo, feel the same about Yangming

      2. We went tonight for dinner and had a mixed bag. The appetizers were very good, the pasta we shared, OK, and the entrée, we also shared, not so good. We are fairly average sized eaters and both of us thought the portions were skimpy. The service was pleasant but slightly haphazard. We live around 45 minutes away, so when we find ourselves in the area, we want to go to someplace outstanding. If Bryn Mawr were our neighborhood, we'd probably give it another try. But with a la Maison, which we love, down the road, there is little chance we'll return.

        4 Replies
        1. re: middleagedfoodie

          I prefer Cerise across the street with one caveat (as usual these days). You've got to dine early lest you be bombarded by loud talk where you can only read lips and shout. Fraschetta is the same way.
          What's with today's restaurants and the noise factor anyway?
          And as if to add to the noise, some places play music in the background as well which only exacerbates the issue.

          1. re: middleagedfoodie


            Based on the LaBan review, four of us went for dinner on Saturday for the first time. We had 3 shared apps, 4 primi, 4 secondi, and two desserts ($61/person, not counting tip, which seemed very reasonable).

            I thought all the food was uniformly good to very good, and the service was friendly and attentive (an ex-Melograno server, who admittedly recognized one of us as a regular downtown). Although there was a wait for our entrees as the restaurant filled up. Portion sizes seemed perfect to me, and definitely not what I would call skimpy (in fact we took leftovers home, and it sounds like you shared your primi and secondi).

            I can see why the Yelp reviews are variable, which did cause me some initial concern, since they serve all house-made pasta, extremely al dente, and generally lightly sauced. This may not appeal to some of the the Main Line Yelpers who never make it into the city for Italian and think that Olive Garden represents what good good pasta should be like (over-cooked and drowned in sauce).

            But to each his own...I will definitely go back (although it's not in a league with some of our downtown favorites, like Modo Mio for example, but still good for the 'burbs).

            Interestingly, Philly Mag's Victor Fiorillo wrote in a short blurb that, although he liked the food, it was so noisy he will never return. We had an early 5:45PM reservation, but even later when it was completely full we didn't find the noise level excessive and were able to carry on our conversation without too much problem (certainly energetic, but not out of line with many of our small BYOBs). Again, this may be something some customers are not used to.


            Unfortunately, for BYOBing, their stems are not very good, so we brought our own. Also, it's annoying that they don't seem to have a website, and it took me a while to figure out that they use Rezbook, not OpenTable, for reservations.

            If I get around to writing a Yelp review, I'll probably give it a low 4 stars.

            1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

              I'm not sure if I should take your post personally because I do not frequent Yelp, do not live on the Main Line, have never eaten at Olive Garden, have eaten at several of Marc Vetri's restaurants here and Michael White's restaurants in NYC, so when I say the pasta dish was nothing special, I think I know when pasta is al dente and I know I am not comparing it to chain restaurant pasta dishes.

              1. re: middleagedfoodie

                Other than pointing out that you complained about the small size of individual portions when, if I understand you correctly, you actually shared these dishes between two people, I don't see where I referred to you anywhere else in my post.

                Since, unlike you, I actually have dined at Olive Garden, I think I know more about bad Italian than you, so there! ;-)

          2. Finally got there last night and liked it very much, particularly my tagliatelle with mushrooms and truffles. It takes us about 30 minutes to get there but we will return.

            4 Replies
            1. re: JanR

              JanR, I'm curious regarding your take on the noise level. We live in Ardmore, so this is a very convenient spot for us. But, hearing so many complaints about noise has been a major deterrent. I wonder if the owners have addressed this. Thanks!

              1. re: Laura D.

                We arrived at 6pm, and it was pretty quiet. However, the restaurant was full by 7pm and it was a bit loud. We could hear each other but one did need to speak up. We loved the food so much that the noise wouldn't deter us from returning. You would probably do well noise-wise to arrive by 5:30pm.

                1. re: JanR

                  Thanks! Also considering trying a weeknight in the hopes it won't be as busy!

                  1. re: Laura D.

                    I think your best bet is a week night. I finally got there on a Thursday night thanks to a couple that was hoping to dine there, and we were pleasantly surprised. First of all the service person was a charmer and to me that is very important. The food was surprisingly good and better than I thought it would be. We brought our own wine and got there at 5:30 so we were lucky not to have a noisy evening as seems to be their reputation. It started to get a bit noisy as we were leaving.

                    For a neighborhood place the food was good (no Michael White's but then how many are?) and I would return.

            2. We finally got here on Saturday night for a 9:15pm reservation for 2 after a movie at Bryn Mawr. We have a lot of experience dining on July 5th since it is our anniversary, so while we were a bit weary of the noise level on a Saturday night, we suspected it would be more quiet than usual since everyone seems to travel for the holiday weekend. Anyway, we arrived early and were seated promptly downstairs, which was about 2/3 full when we arrived and essentially empty when we left. It was not loud at all in comparison to many other dining establishments, though in contrast to other nights when we have walked by it was very "dead," so I guess the potential for it to be much louder is there on a typical weekend night. The food was excellent. My husband got the gnocchi for his appetizer and the linguine with clams for an entree. I got the burrata for an appetizer, with the prosciutto on the side (I don't eat meat and appreciate that they did this; I was impressed at how much prosciutto was on the plate given the pricepoint and portion size of the entire dish) and the mushroom pasta as my entree. Though some have commented on portion sizes being extremely small, I thought that they were pretty spot on (and I am a hearty eater). I had room for dessert (though was probably full enough without it) but was very satisfied from the wonderful flavors and richness of the meal. For dessert my husband got creme brulee and I got the gelato trio of hazelnut, mascarpone, and salted caramel. I believe our total bill was $77 which seemed reasonable given that service was very attentive and the food was absolutely delicious. While I am weary of returning during peak dining hours on a weekend night given that I've seen how busy it is when I've walked by, I think I would definitely return for a late night weekend reservation, or for a weekday reservation, as I truly was impressed and don't think there are a lot of other competitive options in the area. Thanks to all who continued to recommend Fraschetta despite some spotty reviews.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Laura D.

                Nice review. Thanks to your write-up I'm ready again. I live pretty nearby.