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Best of the Best 2019

Our 15th Annual Best of the Best Selections

Our local dining scene continues to evolve at an astonishing rate!

In our 15th year of highlighting the best our area has to offer, we are once again in awe. We found so much to celebrate—from a new shining star serving heavenly delights to a shop with the best little pies. There are the buzzworthy spots, places to watch and those that got national recognition.

In your dining this year, we urge you to sample great places for breakfast with friends, a leisurely lunch and an Italian family dinner. Sip surprising cider, notable gin and new local spirits. Visit three places with perfect pizza and taverns that are in 2.0 mode. Plus some of the best sources for bacon, donuts, jerky and warm cookies. And more places for outstanding craft beer.

Read these pages to find your new favorites. But most important: dine local and often this year.

Explore our website for additional articles about restaurants, food news, recipes, beer, wine and more.

To Download a Complete List of Winners, click here!

New & Noteworthy

Shining Star

Andiario

106 W. Gay St., West Chester
484-887-0919 / Andiario.com

If you haven’t heard the raves about the new star on Chester County’s fine dining scene, let us introduce you to Andiario, from acclaimed Chef/owner Anthony Andiario, whose resume is too long for this introduction. Garnering accolades from restaurant critics (Craig LaBan’s pick for the “suburbs’ best new restaurant”), national and regional publications (Bon Appetit interview; #12 on Philly Mag’s top 50), this white-tablecloth restaurant’s focused New American menu—featuring four Beginnings, three Pastas, three Proteins—changes depending on local ingredients and the chef’s creativity. What doesn’t change is divine, inventive handmade pastas, with names some nonnas might not recognize (corzetti, nicchi, caombas). Look for dishes accented with “foragings from the forest floor” and exotic touches like tenerumi. Ask to be wait-listed for a coveted reservation.

 

People Are Talking About

Verbena BYOB

102 E. State St., Kennett Square
484-732-7932 / VerbenaBYOB.com

Kennett Square’s dining scene is amped up—especially for those of us who also eat with our eyes (check the YouTube video). In under a year, Verbena has become an Instagram hit and dining destination, with descriptions of “magician” and “master” for Chef/owner Scott Morozin, a CIA-trained chef with a storied history at several top Philly kitchens. The small dining room, formerly La Madera, serves a tightly curated, refined American menu that’s locally sourced and frequently changing. Such talent in the kitchen mandates the Chef’s Tasting menu. Return diners rave about the baklava, ribeye and Lancaster farms chicken, but why not try Gun Powder Tea Glazed Skate? Plus, the chef’s mother often greets guests, and there’s no year-long waiting list.

 

Louette’s BYO

106 Bridge St., Phoenixville
484-924-9906 / LouettesBYO.com

The most recent addition to Phoenixville’s restaurant row, Louette’s 60-seat cozy dining room and patio space (formerly Marly’s) comes from Chef Steve Howells, veteran of several Michelin-starred and top Philly restaurants. Featuring small plates—not appetizer tapas, but smaller versions of entrees—the menu offers categories of Simples, Noodles, Conversation Starters and More Like Mains, plus the option to customize a four-course tasting menu ($45). The locally sourced eclectic menu puts creative spins on familiar dishes while encouraging diners to experiment with choices like fermented pickle jar, charred broccolini, perfect pastas, shaved pork belly, caramelized cauliflower steak and hand-torn scallops. Check in for Meatless Mondays and specials like rabbit saddle stuffed with chestnut, ham and rabbit mousse, dirty rice, butternut squash.

 

Buzzworthy

The Bercy

7 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore
610-589-0500 / TheBercy.com

There’s a new buzzy spot on the eastern Main Line to see and be seen. You’ll feel glamorous just entering the glitzy converted bank building (site of Primavera Kitchen) in Ardmore, now an elegant brasserie channeling Parc on Rittenhouse Square. And that’s no surprise since Stephen Starr alums Justin Weathers and Joe Monnish (Exton’s El Pastor) are behind this 210-seat beauty with a 40-seat marble bar, teal banquettes and bistro chairs. Sip your French 75 before ordering decadent onion soup, steak frites, cassoulet, bouef bourguignon or other classics accompanied by a selection of French wines and topped off by crème brûlée, tarte tatin or soufflé. It’s both date-night-worthy and worth the drive.

 

Eddie V’s Prime Seafood

670 W. DeKalb Pk., King of Prussia
610-337-7823 / EddieV.com

With locations from Arizona to Virginia and the first in the Philly area, Eddie V’s is a classic expense-account and special-occasion seafood and steak restaurant in King of Prussia that checks all the boxes. Oyster bar, caviar selections, shellfish tower, surf and turf ($87), hand-cut steaks, a la carte sides and flaming desserts. There’s live jazz in the V Lounge, happy hour with hand-shaken cocktails (not stirred?) and 300 wine choices. With 247 seats, private dining rooms with full tech, and valet parking, high rollers from nearby Valley Forge Casino are likely to roll on over.

 

Terrain Café at Devon

138 Lancaster Ave., Devon
610-590-4675 / ShopTerrain.com/Devon-Restaurant

At last! Main Liners no longer have to trek to Glen Mills to enjoy the charms of Terrain Café. The new setting adjacent to the Devon Horse Show grounds is home to another exquisite Urban Outfitters production. A charming greenhouse space—light, airy, plant-filled—is the place to lunch, brunch and enjoy dinner. Wait times can be over an hour for a Tuesday lunch! Fans will find familiar dishes—mushroom soup, specialty burger, flower pot bread—and locally sourced seasonal treats like the artisanal cheese board, toasts (eggplant, burrata, fig), salads (arugula, beet, kale), small and large plates (steak frites, duck breast, salmon). Wine and extensive drinks menus hold other temptations. End with a chocolate terrarium.

 

Amis Trattoria

138 W. Lancaster Ave., Devon
610-590-4782 / AmisTrattoria.com

Devon Yard also brought a Vetri offshoot to the ‘burbs with the fourth location of Amis Trattoria. The sleek industrial chic space attracts a fun crowd to its bar and dining rooms for weekend lunch and dinner. The pizzetes (personal pizzas) are tempting, though we preferred the summer peach and prosciutto to the fall fig replacement. A full array of apps (Sal’s Old School Meatballs) and mains (branzino, pork and lamb chops) fill the menu, but the pastas are the highlight—with a special shout-out for the bucatini with jalapeño and almond pesto and the tonarelli cacio e pepe, beautiful in its simplicity of cheese and pepper. Chocolate lovers order the tartufo for dessert.

 

National Nods & Nominations

Talula’s Table

102 W. State St., Kennett Square
610-444-8255 / TalulasTable.com

About 600 judges, including restaurant critics, food and wine editors, culinary educators and former winners, narrowed 20,000 applicants to a mere 20 semi-finalists for the James Beard Foundation’s outstanding restaurant awards. One of them was Talula’s Table. So, ask yourself: one year from today—that’s the wait time—what are you doing? If your calendar is blank, make a reservation today. (If your timing is flexible, check social media for occasional openings.) And prepare for a “super-seasonal” banquet that changes often but is always exceptional. Six months out, you’ll dream about it. Three months out, you’ll think you can taste it. Afterwards—eight courses, from pumpkin soup to lobster risotto to smoked roast beef tenderloins—you won’t forget you ate local and well.

 

Teresa’s Next Door

124-126 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne
610-293-9909 / teresas-cafe.com

So much to enjoy. You can go for the beer: there are 28 on tap and hundreds of appropriate glasses. Choose an import, e.g., Moinette Brune from Belgium. Or domestic: perhaps Nitro Merlin from Firestone Walker. Or go local with a selection from Hidden River or Sly Fox: Chester County Brown, maybe. If you can’t find it on draft, choose from about 70 labels in bottles. Or enjoy the wines—about 100 in its cellar—by the glass or the bottle, from around the globe. Or sample the whiskey—over 300 on the menu—and gin—about 20. No wonder the James Beard Foundation selected Teresa’s Next Door as a 2018 semifinalist in its Outstanding Bar Program. So good and so close to home.

 

Places to Watch

Main & Vine California Bistro

789 E. Lancaster Ave., Villanova
484-380-3688 / MainAndVineBistro.com

Find Napa Valley in the Delaware Valley at Main & Vine California Bistro, bringing vine-fresh cooking to the Main Line. The former Ave Kitchen space was redesigned for a modern, open feel, anchored by a 26-seat bar and 12-seat pizza bar—pizza as theater—serving light fluffy Napa-style sourdough pizzas. The menu’s themes include Starters, Sociables for sharing, From the Vine salads, Pizzas and Mains, plus Family Table special menus for each weekday. Other favorites include the Wild Isles salmon (sustainable and delicious) and the black grape and blue cheese pizza with hazelnuts, rosemary and local honey. California beers and wines—at many price points. A lively happy hour and late night dining.

 

Avola Kitchen + Bar

625 N. Morehall Rd., Malvern
484-328-8584 / AvolaKitchenAndBar.com

Named after a seaside village in Sicily, Avola serves up a Mediterranean-influenced menu with Old World flavors and farm fresh ingredients. Owned by a group of area restaurateurs (Twenty9, Stephens on State, and more), this new addition to the Great Valley area in Malvern offers small plates, pastas and a pizza lineup—artisanal, Kennett, Diabolo, roast pork—from a 900-degree oven. A popular happy hour with food and drink specials pulls in the after-work crowd to the high-ceiling modern space. Plenty of local beers on tap, too.

 

Epicurean Garage

570 Simpson Dr., Chester Springs
610-615-5189 / EpicureanGarage.com

Honest local eats and cold beer. That’s the promise from owner Lee Krasley (America Bar and Grill, Epicurean) for his new 150-seat, family-friendly, industrial chic eatery in the Eagle Point Village Shopping Center. Serving farm-to-table comfort food along with Root Down beer and BYOWine, the menu has apps, salads, sandwiches, burgers, mains, eggs, shakes and weekend brunch. Whew! There’s lots to read about ingredients and sourcing—homemade sausage from Spring City pork, Jail Island salmon, LeBus bread. The brunch menu has special treats like banana brown sugar macadamia nut waffle, with bananas foster syrup and eggs in hell with Texas chili, black bean salsa, cheddar, Louisiana crystal drizzle, jalapeños, scallions. Fit for an epicurean.

 

Liberty Union Bar and Grill

325 Simpson Dr., Chester Springs, 484-359-4061
519 Kimberton Rd., Phoenixville

484-927-4244 / LibertyUnionBar.com

They had me at complimentary tater tots, wrote one diner—perhaps a reason for opening the second location in Phoenixville. Tots plus specials—BOGO burgers, free first drink for restaurant folks, quizzo, open mic, live music Fridays and Saturdays—and a menu featuring food from around the country—California wrap to Kennett Square tacos—make this a welcoming hangout with a lively bar and family-friendly dining room. Pick an app—Rhode Island calamari or Texan caviar—trendy options like build-your-own quinoa bowl, and American standards (ribeye, salmon, crab cakes) to satisfy everyone. Come for happy hour specials, the featured state of the week (complete with themed starter, sandwich and beverage), and good company.

 

Great Expectations

Enoteca Tredici

Opening in Downingtown, summer 2019
TrediciBM.com

If Enoteca Tredici transformed a 5,000-square-foot warehouse in Bryn Mawr into one of the sexiest new restaurants in the Philly area, imagine the magic brewing inside the historic paper mill overlooking the Brandywine in Downingtown—$1.5mill budgeted for the reno! Known for approachable Mediterranean fare in beautiful spaces, Enoteca Tredici follows Firecreek and Milito’s in the historic site with plans to echo some design features of the Main Line stunner—soaring live trees, expansive central bar. Expect small plates, interesting pizzas inspired by the Zavino sister restaurant, and a strong wine list (a Philly Mag best). This 6th location for the Zavino Restaurant Group is a stylish addition to Downingtown dining. Late summer opening.

 

At the Mall

Mistral Restaurant

160 N. Gulph Rd., King of Prussia
610-768-1630 / MistralKOP.com

If ever mall food could be taken to another level, it would be at the KOP Mall and at Mistral. From four-time James Beard-nominated Chef Scott Anderson, of acclaimed Mistral in Princeton, this creative, sophisticated, globally inspired menu elevates the culinary IQ of the entire mall. And while the menu has chicken wings and burgers, Mistral’s are pineapple chili glazed wings and a dry-aged burger with bacon jam. So whether you’re taking a break from shopping or doing destination dining, bring friends to share the small plates of squash beignets, salmon poke, pork belly ramen. There are large plates, but we seldom make it to them. Specialty cocktails, a knowledgeable somm and curated wine list.

 

North Italia Restaurant

350 Mall Blvd., King of Prussia
484-751-9000 / NorthItaliaRestaurant.com

On KOP Mall’s lower level is the first PA location for the hand-stretched pizzas and fresh pasta from North Italia, a chain from James Beard-nominated Sam Fox, also of nearby True Food Kitchen. The 300-seat bright, modern spot opened in October with crave-worthy brunch, lunch, dinner and happy hour ($20 Board & a Bottle special). The trendy menu includes plenty of apps from chef’s board to grilled cauliflower, pastas from meatballs to squid ink and a specialty Bolognese, dinner entrees from branzino to salmon, with a popular chicken parm, pizzas with a daily special, plus desserts from affogato to tiramisu. Cocktails are similarly hip—Aperol spritzer to the Milano Mule—and a tempting wine list.

Beer & Taverns

Taverns 2.0

Chadds Ford Tavern

1400 Baltimore Pk., Chadds Ford
484-800-4084 / CFTavern.com

The Colonial tavern ambiance remains at this gathering spot frequented by Wyeths and Weymouths and owned for almost 50 years by Tommy Drane. Updated by new Chef/owner Phil Ferro, with a mission to have the regulars “yearn to return” while attracting new fans, CFT has much to recommend it. Happy hour seven days a week, two bars, raw bar, private dining, pairing dinners, live entertainment and patio dining planned for spring. If they don’t already have it, Ferro likely will add it. Plenty of apps (tavern lobster chowder), shared plates (flatbreads), tavern classics (crab cakes, steak frites), prime steaks & chops, plus daily specials, decadent desserts (chunky monkey bread pudding) and a 215-year history.

 

Eagle Tavern & Taproom

123 Pottstown Pk., Chester Springs
610-458-5331 / EagleTavern.com

An icon got a makeover when the Eagle Tavern got new owners last year. The neighborhood mainstay with hundreds of years of history—a sign reads “First Established 1727”—is evolving, now offering Paranormal Dinner & Show and beer dinners with nearby East Branch Brewing. A team with ties to Victory Brewing—owner Matt Krieger, Chef Owen Kolva—has updated the interior and the ambitious menu. There are apps, selections from land and sea and garden, plus plats du jour, weekly specials and bar menu. There’s real range—from house pickles to Scotch eggs and Allagash to Yuengling on the beer menu. The second floor taproom is for sports and live music fans.

 

Place to Grab a Beer

Root Down Brewing Company

1 N. Main St., Phoenixville
484-393-2337 / RootDownBrewing.com

To grab a beer with a friend, head for Chester County’s beer capital—Phoenixville. Among the many choices, Root Down offers special attractions. The big space mixes historic and hip—exposed brick, graffiti murals, kung fu movies—plus a long welcoming bar and a game space with video games, bubble hockey, corn hole. Add award-winning beers like Bine (Great American Beer Fest gold for American-style IPA; plus silver for Salty by Nature, a gose), along with a strong supporting pub gub menu—from loaded nachos to cauli bites, brisket on a biscuit to vegged out wrap. They also garnered a win for best mid-sized brewpub and brewer of the year. Stop in to see why.

 

Taproom

Tap 24

36 W. State St., Media
484-442-8839 / Tap24Media.com

We have a soft spot for descriptive names, so a taproom with 24 rotating taps has our number. This relaxed sports bar has much to recommend it beyond the purse hooks and outlets at each bar seat. A short but solid menu offers starters like tots poutine, plus burgers, signature fried chicken, Cubano and BBQ pulled pork. On-tap choices, with strong local representation, run the gamut from lagers to hoppy stuff to dark to sour, barrel-aged and others, along with an extensive drinks list of cans, bottles, cocktails and wine. An On Deck list tempts return visits. The low-key vibe, brick and dark wood interior, plus servers in flannel add to the ambiance.

 

New Brewery Concept

Stolen Sun Craft Brewing & Roasting Company

342 Pottstown Pk., Exton
484-879-4161 / StolenSun.com

Come for the coffee, stay for the beer,” says Stolen Sun Craft Brewing and Roasting Company. What the slogan doesn’t mention is the fabulous food in between. The new combo brewery-“roastery”-eatery gets high marks for all three. The open space, once gym warehouse storage, is set up for a good time with your crowd. Taste an on-site-brewed IPA, plus on-site-roasted coffee and chef’s special—a seafood crepe or three-mushroom ramen with broccoli—at colorful wooden tables on the lower level. Play board games, bar-watch over the balcony or peek into the blue-floored brewery from the second floor. Check hours, then go hang out a while.

 

Beer Gardens

The Gables at Chadds Ford

423 Baltimore Pk., Chadds Ford
610-388-7700 / TheGablesAtChaddsFord.com

Our area is bursting with breweries and taphouses—both good things. So what better use of beautiful grounds than to create a warm-weather beer garden. When Kennett’s popular pop-up, The Creamery, closed last summer, The Gables occasional beer garden filled the bill. Like the restaurant, the beer garden was simple and elegant, using the beautiful back terrace (or banquet room for rain or heat) for sipping beers, summer berry peach sangria or wine while enjoying the bar menu, featuring favorites like bourbon pulled pork sandwiches, truffle fries and watermelon salad. A s’mores station (with homemade flavored marshmallows), lawn games and great music added to the ambiance. Stay tuned for plans for summer 2019!

 

Bistro on Bridge

208-212 Bridge St., Phoenixville
610-935-7141 / BistroOnBridge.com

How about a rooftop beer garden? With a 1973 VW beer bus? That’s what was added during the renovation at Bistro on Bridge. The Instagram-worthy second floor Analog Room is a large open space overlooking the heart of Phoenixville—a family-friendly spot with a retro vibe, picnic tables and plenty of games, including vintage Pac-Man and Frogger. There’s indoor space—with sofa and fireplace—protected by two large retractable garage doors. Enjoy a wide selection of canned beer, plus vintage cocktails and frozen drinks. Sample Bistro’s satisfying menu, too.

 

Suburban Restaurant and Beer Garden

570 Wellington Square, Exton
610-458-2337 / SuburbanBG.com

Putting its devotion to beer gardens in its name, Suburban Restaurant and Beer Garden also honors all things local, including PA craft beer and spirits—don’t ask for a shot of Cuervo here. Chef/owner Eric Yost comes by his local roots honestly, with stints at White Dog and the former Wyebrook Farm restaurant, both adherents to sustainable sourcing. His beer garden cred is also well earned, with a menu featuring faves like Bavarian pretzel with IPA mustard, pork schnitzel and bratwurst. Recently expanding the Suburban brand to include a nano-brewery in Honey Brook, Yost added his own brews to a strong lineup on tap—all the local suspects, plus Hijinx, Funk and Fegley’s from around the Commonwealth.

 

Pinocchio’s Restaurant & Beer Garden To Go

131 E. Baltimore Ave., Media
610-566-7767 / PinPizza.com

Beer Garden To Go is a different take on the community gathering space at the heart of the concept, but Pinocchio’s does everything to make beer fans happy. It’s the first bottle shop in DelCo, now open until 1 a.m. on Monday–Saturday, with 25 beers on draft, 200 craft and international options, and about 1000 choices overall. So order a draft from the hometown brews selections and get advice from the knowledgeable staff to help fill your six-pack to go as you wait for your take-out pizza. Then take your movable beer garden to-go home and kick back. Or enjoy the new deck upstairs.

 

Beer with a Purpose

Sly Fox Brewing Company

520 Kimberton Rd., Phoenixville, 610-935-4540
331 Circle of Progress Dr., Pottstown

484-300-4644 / SlyFoxBeer.com

Beer and curing childhood cancer? Why not. This special pairing is why we celebrate the partnership of Sly Fox with Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Available this past April–August, the spring seasonal, Alex’s Lemon Wheat Ale, was an inspiring, bright, refreshing, unfiltered pale wheat ale, with real lemon oil and lemon zest, plus natural flavors—a tribute to the original lemonade stand. A portion of the proceeds on sales was donated to support Alex’s mission to find cures for all types of childhood cancer. Best enjoyed while wearing something lemon yellow. Look for its return this May.

Drinks & Spirits

Cider

Dressler Estate

Available at local retailers / DresslerEstate.com

With crowd-sourced start-up funds, a first cider-versary, participation in Philly’s first Cider Week, and a shout-out from Craig LaBan, Dressler Estates deserves recognition. Brian and Olga Dressler began in 2012 as homebrewers who evolved into cider makers working magic with yeast and apples. Their champagne yeast produces a pret-nat-style of hazy sparkling cider with fine bubbles, while their popular still cider is a clear, pale straw color with a dry, apple-forward aroma—far from cloying, overly sweet apple wine. These crisp, distinct ciders are well worth sipping and sharing. All hail this welcome addition to the local craft beverage scene in a state that’s the 4th largest grower of apples.

 

Gin

Revivalists Gin

350 Warwick Rd., Elverson
610-901-3668 / RevivalistSpirits.com/Bistro

Gin is in, and small batch gin is big, natch. With a portfolio of gins reflecting our changing tastes during each season, Dan and Scott Avellino’s Revivalist Gins, produced at Brandywine Branch Distilleries’ 19th-century stone barn, continue to garner accolades. The winter Solstice gin—with dried cherry, orange peel and ginger, finished in red wine barrels to a surprising millennial rose gold tone—earned 92 points from Wine Enthusiast. And in 2018, Equinox—light, fresh and citrusy with hints of mint and spring—won double golds in the New York World Spirits competition. For those whose gin-sperience is limited to G&Ts, try the jalapeño infused Dragon Dance—“a wild ride of taste and botanical adventure.”

 

New Spirits

Pennsylvania Distilling Co.

50 Three Tun Rd., Malvern
484-568-4920 / PennDistilling.com

Opened in August, this grain-to-glass distillery is the Main Line’s first, though not Chester County’s (there’s Brandywine Branch, Manatawny and Bluebird distilleries). Not to be confused with Fishtown’s Philadelphia Distilling (makers of famed Bluecoat Gin), Pennsylvania Distilling Co. is one of the new stops on the growing local Craft Distilling and Spirits Trail. The small-batch spirits are handmade with passion and care by owners Joseph Amoroso and Richard Buoni, who adhere to old-fashioned principles of distilling from scratch with all natural ingredients. Visit the tasting room or take a tour to sample flights or specialty cocktails—try the Malvern Mule or This Is Not a Negroni—with rye whiskey, vodka, light and dark rum, plus gin. Help them reach their goal of 1,000 cases their first year.

 

Whiskey Bar

Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft

29 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore
610-486-7477 / RipplewoodBar.com

Already earning a nickname, the Ripp, next to Ardmore Music Hall, is another reason to head east—yes, there’s more than Tired Hands Brewing in Ardmore. Two floors of throwback American comfort food complemented by creative craft cocktails—Buzzed Bunny, Jorge Clooney, Millionaire Juice Box—plus beer, wine and cider, if you must. The changing menu is heavy on bar snacks and sharables with the pretzeled Parker House rolls (whipped truffle butter) and Ripp fries (fondue, jalapeño, brisket) as standouts. The burger (gouda, Lebanon bologna, special sauce) is legendary—might be the best you’ve ever had. Save room for the Brookie—brownie, chocolate chip cookie combo in a hot skillet with ice cream.

 

New Winery

1723 Vineyards

5 McMaster Blvd., Landenberg
888-330-0526 / 1723Vineyards.com

Fifth-generation farmers and first-generation wine makers Sarah and Ben Cody profess a passion for great wine and working with their hands. So they planted 11 acres in historic New London township (chartered in 1723, hence the name) with varietals that thrive in the region. Sharing their wine in an on-site tasting room, farm-to-table wine pairing dinners with a neighboring farm, and a wine club offering special releases, they’re building a loyal following. Sample their range of craft wines from albariño and chambourcin to their favorite, cabernet franc, the one they believe most captures the terroir of their vineyard. Can you taste the intense aroma of pepper and eucalyptus colliding with dark chocolate flavors against lightly charred, cedar oak?

 

Brunch Cocktail

Tavola Restaurant + Bar

400 W. Sproul Rd., Springfield
610-543-2100 / Tavolas.com

A great brunch needs a great Bloody Mary, and Tavola’s Garden Bloody Mary has legs. After being named the People’s Choice Best Bloody Mary in America at the 2014 Food Network’s Chopped! Wine and Food Festival, this brunch mainstay was selected as Drinking in America blog’s 2018 pick for the best in Pennsylvania. And we agree. What distinguishes Chef Irene Moretti’s recipe is garden-fresh herbs and veggies plus ingredients like house-made bread and butter pickles in brine mixed with a secret blend of Absolut peppar and cilantro vodkas, then garnished with a skewered piece of shrimp lejon. You can build your own Bloody Mary at Tavola’s popular Sunday brunch, but why?

 

Patio Bar

Great American Pub Bar + Grill

148 Bridge St., Phoenixville
Other locations: Conshohocken, Wayne
610-917-3333 / TheGreatAmericanPub.com

Although we’re fans of the adaptive reuse of the grand old Columbia Hotel, here’s a shout-out to an amazing patio dining experience nestled in a space just off Bridge Street in Phoenixville. In the shadow of that historic hotel, this courtyard space with fountain, pergola, string lights and plenty of tables often hosts music in addition to loyal fans. But the highlight is about a dozen adorable covered wooden booths where you can enjoy a special experience—your own island of conviviality. With the name pub, expect great food and apps—like pub beef sliders—plus an extensive menu. Try the Chef Specialties—smoked brisket, smoked carnitas and sweet and smoky baby back ribs. Perfection on the patio!

 

Drinks with Friends

Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

3 W. Gay St., West Chester, 610-738-9600
Over a dozen locations / IronHillBrewery.com

Raise a glass to friends while you lift your fork for a meal at Iron Hill, a favorite watering hole with many area locations. What began as a birthday gift home-brewing kit is now a restaurant lauded in Craig LaBan’s “Best of the ‘burbs” in 2017. Patrons flock to the pub after special events—parades and cycling events in West Chester and First Fridays and the Firebird Festival in Phoenixville. Special days and any day pair burgers, pizzas and entrees with their craft beer—seasonal or signature on tap and award-winning bottled reserves. Treat buddies to martinis and Manhattans at indoor or sidewalk seats.

 

Drinks After Work

Black Powder Tavern

1164 Valley Forge Rd., Wayne
610-293-9333 / BlackPowderTavern.com

Black Powder Tavern does everything right for after-work drinks. Happy hour pricing is convenient, 5 to 7, Monday through Friday, for draft beers, house wines, classic cocktails, specialty martinis with a menu that goes beyond wings and flatbread. Order poutine, beer-baked pretzel sticks, cheesy devils on horseback and $8 cheeseburgers. If after-work drinks extend, the full menu offers more small plates, sandwiches, and large plates like cedar plank salmon and NY strip steak. The extensive full drinks menu includes 24 draft beers (Untappd’s app has all the updates), seasonal drinks (fall drinks included pumpkin smash), lengthy single malt list, make my mule options, flights, plus more wines and ciders. Raising spirits since 1746 and through 2019.

 

Columbus Inn

2216 Pennsylvania Ave., Wilmington
302-571-1492 / ColumbusInn.net

For generations, the Columbus Inn has had a “room where it happens.” Invite colleagues for drinks after work at the large tavern room with polished wood bar at one end and TV at the other. Take pals to the porch. Get things done or kick back in comfort at happy hour. Treat someone special to the wine and cheese bar facing a spectacular vault of floor-to-ceiling bottles of wine. Amid sparkling stemware, sink into a seat of luscious red leather and choose from premium spirits, craft cocktails, house wine pours or draft and bottled beer. Then just let it happen …

 

Drinks on the Deck

The Desmond Hotel

1 Liberty Blvd., Malvern
610-296-9800 / DesmondGV.com

Looking for a spot to sip wine with a few friends or celebrate happy hour with 50 of your closest colleagues? The Desmond Malvern has you covered. At a clutch of comfy chairs, umbrella table or stool at the outdoor bar, enjoy draft or bottled beers, imported or domestic wines with fare from the seasonal Sunset Grille. Select a signature cocktail: a classic rye Manhattan or a fun-lover’s Espresso-tini with Bailey’s and Starbucks coffee liqueur. Sudden downpour? No worries, the adjacent Fox & Hounds Pub and spacious lower level lobby with countryside mural have you literally covered, too.

 

New Bar Concept

Burlap and Bean Coffee

455 W. Baltimore Ave., Media, 484-444-2533
204 S. Newtown Street Rd., Newtown Square 484-427-4547 / BurlapAndBean.com

The Burlap and Bean café may be best known for its coffee—organic and roasted in small batches—with three locations in Newtown Square and Media. The music, generally on weekends, also feels fine, down-home and adds to the ambiance. But here we sing the praises of B&B’s lemonade bar, which debuted last summer. Made with real lemons, B&B’s house-made lemonade has options like muddled strawberries, açai, cucumber and assorted other fruits, berries, herbs and tastes to add to a liesurely summer day. All real, all natural. And colorful! It’s oh so refreshing on a hot summer afternoon—and yes, summer will be here sooner than you think. A Pinterest-perfect concept for a non-alcoholic bar, a brilliant alternative to iced and cold brewed coffee.

Apps to Cookies

Local App for Dining Deals

Localized APP

Localized-App.com

It’s Friday night. You’re in West Chester and looking for something fun to do and a good place to eat. But you’re not sure what’s hot or not. Localized has the answer. The Localized app—designed and built, well, as you might expect, locally—on your cellphone pinpoints your location and tells you about sales, specials, live music and more at cool places nearby that night and within the next week. Following its pilot in West Chester, Localized is now adding to its base of breweries, restaurants, pizza shops and other types of businesses so you’re ready for a night on the town. Or you can always check the Events section and the Best of the Best dining listing on the County Lines website!

 

Local TV Star

Brooklyn Girl Bakery

2208 Kimberton Rd., Phoenixville
610-757-8318 / BrooklynGirlBakery.com

At Brooklyn Girl Bakery, New York City style meets Chester County taste buds and Hollywood excitement. This summer owner Peri Anderson and her teammate won the Netflix Sugar Rush reality show’s cake challenge and $10,000 with their show-stopping Brazilian Carnival-inspired devil’s food with dulce de leche. Back from Los Angeles, she’s still earning accolades here. Without leaving the county, order stunning award-winning party and wedding cakes—sculpted, tiered, filled, frosted, fondant-covered, traditionally round or even shaped like a typewriter or chic purse in flavors including Coney Island Carrot and Madison Square Marble. Described by a fan as “ridiculously gorgeous, ridiculously delicious.” Taste for yourself.

 

Appetizers

Appetites on Main

286 Main St., Exton
610-594-2030 / AppetitesOnMain.com

Call it Appetizers on Main, given its mastery of the major app food groups. For fried apps—fried calamari, mozzarella sticks, pickles and potatoes. That leads to the crossover fried and potato apps—house specialty bacon cheese fries (shoestring, waffle-cut, tater tots), NOLA fries and crazy potato skins. Next up, the bites group—pretzel or mac & cheese bites, plus cheesesteak eggrolls (although they’re a few bites). For classics apps—a wide variety of wings (10 sauces, three dry rubs), sliders (choose three), and flat bread pizzas (customize yours). Also the favorite apps group—coconut shrimp, mini crab cakes, mini tacos, bacon-wrapped scallops. And finally, the hummus platter … because there’s one in every group.

 

Bacon Theme

Bacon Me Crazy Café & Market

119 Main St., Phoenixville
484-924-8324 / BaconCrazyCafe.com

For the bacon-crazy, this place is for you! So why not order the Bacon Plate with two varieties, or a Bacon Sampler with a flight of three types, or Cinnamon Rolls with crumbled bacon, or Bacon Me Crazy Omelets, Bacon Me Crazy French Toast, the BLT or …? It’s all locally sourced, ethically raised, smoked in-house, from free-roaming pigs raised without hormones or antibiotics. There are other things on the menu—eggs, pancakes, burgers, corned beef, potatoes, cheeses—but why? Get there by 3 on most days, but Friday and Saturday nights, it opens again from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., in case you’re in Phoenixville, hungry and want some, um … bacon.

 

Bistro

Sips Bistro & Bar

400 Bridge St., Phoenixville
484-924-9721 / SipsPhoenixville.com

From Bistro Salad to Le Burger, you can find a complete bistro menu at Sips. Yearning for onion soup, escargots, croque monsieur and madame, coq au vin, steak frites, mussels and more? You can almost hear Edith Piaf singing in the background. A strong, heavily French-influenced wine list (rosés and petillants, along with Champagnes and sancerres) make this the place to go when you won’t make it to Paris in the springtime. Patio dining, creative cocktails, and if you love your food, you’re invited to buy the kitchen a round of beer. Bon appetit!

 

Bowls

Bango Bowls

109 W. Gay St., West Chester
484-266-7389 / BangoBowls.com

Food tastes better in bowls, and there are lots to choose from at Bango Bowls, location #7 for this New York-based chain. Offering customized, mood-boosting, healthy food to “fuel your soul with our food,” these good-for-you options are fast and affordable. Choose açai, the purple superfood from the Brazilian rain forests featured in the Bango Bowl, or pitaya, the equally Instagram-worthy dragon fruit in the Pink Dragon Bowl. Poke bowls—deconstructed sushi—make a tasty meal, while oatmeal bowls are a hearty breakfast—go healthy with goji berries with chia, hemp or flax seeds, or yummy with chocolate chips and nutella. Plus smoothies—Purple Rain or La Flaminga—or cold brewed coffee.

 

Breakfast with Friends

Malvern Buttery

233 E. King St., Malvern
610-296-2534 / MalvernButtery.com

Fresh flowers on long wooden tables and the smell of coffee beckon. Fill up those tables with yogurt and granola parfaits, pastries and egg bowls. Fill the long benches with your buddies, because Malvern Buttery is the place to have breakfast with friends. Go for the poached eggs atop root vegetables or grits—there’s a good reason why the Buttery goes through more than 1,000 eggs per week. Lick the gooey homemade peanut butter that drizzled from your country white or wheat toast to your fingers. For a weekend splurge, eat breakfast dessert—sticky buns. Your friends will thank you.

 

Cakes for Special Occasions

Cakes & Candies by Maryellen

1332 W. Chester Pk., West Chester
484-266-0710 / On Facebook

Every special occasion requires a cake—after all, a party without a cake is just a meeting, according to Julia Child, who should know. And Maryellen has been baking amazing cakes in every conceivable shape for every possible occasion. The Flyers’ mascot Gritty, Dunder Miflin-themed Office cake, cakes with Battlebots, black AmEx cards, Ghostbusters, a cigar, beer mug, Army-strong theme or capturing 80 years in three layers—yes, she’s done that. Plus a perfect replica of the track shoes worn throughout college by one delighted groom—complete with shoe laces, cleats, perforations, a Nike swoosh and a medal showing his wedding date. If you can think of it, Maryellen will find a way to say it with cake and icing. She definitely takes the cake!

 

Creative Chocolates

Neuchatel Swiss Chocolates

461 Limestone Rd., Oxford
610-932-2706 / NeuchatelChocolates.com

One peek at the royal purple bag and you know something special is inside. Fifth-generation chocolatier Albert Lauber combines world-class Swiss chocolate with exotic and local ingredients for innovative flavors and designs. Rich, dark bars of saffron, pistachio and sea salt. Organic white hot chocolate with Japanese green tea. Silky truffles infused with nearby Va La’s red wine. Novel chocolate-dipped Herr’s potato chips. Vegan choices with hazelnut or coconut nectar. Designs of high heels, artists’ palettes, golf sets, leaves or traditional pieces. All with fair-trade chocolate offered at a shop you’ll want to eat your way through.

 

New Community Hangout

Chadds Cafe & Store

1609 Baltimore Pk., Chadds Ford
ChaddsFordBarnShops.com

Sip a little, talk a little, taste a little, shop a little. Welcome to the newest rendez vous point in Chadds Ford: Chadds Cafe + Store in the Chadds Ford Village & Barn Shops. The casual gathering place is where families enjoy hot chocolate on chilly days and neighbors chat over Baba’s Brew on hot ones. Ask for Chef Pam Lau’s homemade soups and baked goods or purchase one of her distinctive pottery mugs at the granite counter. Then take a seat at an indoor table under exposed beams or in a fire-engine red Adirondack chair on the lawn—come spring. Check it out!

 

Warm Cookies

Baked Cookies & Dough

34 S. High St., West Chester
610-981-1457 / BakedWC.com

The faster you decide which kinds to try, the sooner you get to eat them. That’s not easy with such an assortment of warm, chewy cookies. Large chocolate chunk, oatmeal raisin, salted caramel, peanut butter or snickerdoodles. Gourmet triple chocolate, sugar, gluten-free and regular chocolate chip, Heath bar and red velvet with dots of creamy white icing swirled in. Devour them at a cute bright blue or pink table at the shop, have them delivered or aim to take them home. Warning: packets of warm morsels might not make it as far as the sidewalk outside Baked’s door. Late night delivery on Fridays and Saturdays, so plan accordingly.

Date Night to Indian Cuisine

Date Night

Domaine Hudson

1314 N. Washington St., Wilmington
302-655-9463 / DomaineHudson.com

Wine and romance go together, so a restaurant with awards from Wine Spectator, Open Table and more for its wine list is a good candidate for a date night destination. And Domaine Hudson fills the bill with 40 wines by the glass, 450 in the cellar and, more specifically, a date night special on Thursdays of 3 courses, 2 people, 1 bottle ($95). You do the math to see if this adds up to an easy choice. Dazzle your date with a place that has its extensive wine list on an iPad, with its inventory arranged by name, price, label, region, varietal and point score/rating. Take it to the next level and reserve a private room.

 

Dim Sum

Tom’s Dim Sum

13 E. State St., Media,
610-566-6688 / 2-TomsDimSum.2-MenuCities.com

Busy, lively, sometimes with a line, but the dim sum is oh so good you don’t mind! You’ll watch, sipping tea, as a profusion of dumplings, buns, sticks and other bite-size delicacies—pork, chicken, beef, fish, shrimp, vegetable—emerge from the kitchen. Like exquisite tiny sculptures, they roll out, past your table and you’ll wish you’d ordered that. Or that. Or that! Until your first dim sum arrives, and all eyes turn jealously to your choice! Shanghai shumai, soup dumplings—with delicate skins, filled with broth and meat—to die for, and scallion pancakes to live for. Be glad Tom’s came to the ‘burbs.

 

Donuts

Fractured Prune Doughnuts

2630 Egypt Rd., Audubon, 484-370-2176
660 Downingtown Pk., West Chester
484-999-8134 / FracturedPrune.com

Everyone has a favorite donut—warm yeasty glazed, classic jelly filled or the seasonal favorite apple cider donut. These hardwired preferences have not deterred an explosion of specialty donut chains that believe “your doughnuts should be as unique as you.” Started in Ocean City, MD in 1976, our favorite, Fractured Prune, serves hot, hand-dipped, custom cake donuts with thousands of varieties—about 155,648 combos possible, according to their FAQs. For an interactive donut experience, you choose the glaze and toppings for a donut sundae. Or order from their menu of bacon bomb, morning buzz, French toast, salted caramel. The most popular? OC Sand (honey glazed, cinnamon & sugar). And the name, Fractured Prune? Just Google it.

 

Family Friendly

Ron’s Original Bar & Grille

74 E. Uwchlan Ave., Exton
610-594-9900 / RonsOriginal.com

This is where to take your family for a wide variety of delicious healthy dishes. For the kids, there is everything from mac & cheese to a meatball sandwich. For those a bit older, order a Boss Burger, a grilled Reuben, or something else from the sandwich menu. Or try a pizza, an Oval, or a Piadini—basically, an Italian pita. The Casino, with hot capicola, roasted red peppers and garlic aioli is a favorite. Or, build your own original pasta dinner, choosing the pasta, sauce, protein and veggies. That is, if you can resist the lasagna, Blackened Alfredo or cioppino. Caution though: with such an extensive and tasty menu, expect the kids to grow up fast.

 

Farm Dinners

SIW Vegetables Field to Fork Dinners

4317 S. Creek Rd., Chadds Ford
610-388-7491 / SIW-Vegetables.blogspot.com

A farm stand, CSA and wholesaler of old-fashioned and newfangled vegetables, fruits and flowers, SIW Farm (stepped in what?) was transformed for the sixth year for 15 summer field-to-fork dinners. Lucky guests savored just-picked produce in an idyllic setting as the meals let the fresh food shine. Guest chefs ranging from Dan Butler, Bryan Sikora, Mark Vetri to William and Merry of The House of William and Merry, crafted menus as diverse as themselves. The rustic-chic 1600s bank barn at Hill Girt Farm—in the Haskell family since 1910—is the picture-perfect backdrop for an al fresco family-style dinner on a working farm (most BYOB and around $75). For crickets, conversation and farm-fresh cuisine beneath the twinkly lights, mark your calendar.

 

Fine European Service

Vickers Restaurant & Bar

192 E. Welsh Pool Rd., Exton
610-363-7998 / VickersRestaurant.com

For an Old World dining experience as sparkling as the 1930s emerald dinner ring you donned for the occasion, look no further than Vickers. Set on a white tablecloth, the proper fork is provided for the tableside-prepared Caesar salad and the correct glass holds your merlot. Discreet servers appear with each course—from the escargots to the filet mignon to the flambé highlighted in our awards for 2018’s “Best of the Best.” Ask the pianist to play As Time Goes By on Friday or Saturday night and linger over after-dinner coffee and conversation by the fireplace. It’s never out of style.

 

French Pastries

La Baguette Magique

202 Market St., West Chester
610-620-4729 / MagicBaguette.com

Take a whirlwind tour of France through the pastries of La Baguette Magique. Order une tasse de café (every French delicacy demands the company of good coffee), an assortment of pastries and prepare to be transported. Chocolate, chocolate almond or regular croissants and brioche with chocolate or raisins whisk you to a French outdoor market. In bugnes, glimpse ancient ruins in Lyon, home city of founder/owner Catherine Seisson. With friends, find snow-dusted December Provence in the large almond-cream-filled Galette des Rois cherished at Christmas time. Shell-shaped madeleines invoke the Lorraine region (and Proust) while colorful macarons conjure up Paris in one bite. Magnifique!

 

Gelato

Gemelli Artisanal Gelato & Dessert Café

12 W. Market St., West Chester
484-557-848 / GemelliGelato.com

What’s warmer than ice cream, smoother, richer, creamier, more flavorful and has less fat? If you answered gelato, you’re in the know and may already know the gem that is Gemelli. Add that the spatula-scooped gelato here is made from scratch by a skilled and passionate artisan, Vincenzo Tettamanti, from family recipes improved by years of experimenting and influenced by fresh, local, seasonal ingredients—no artificial anything. Sample fresh-daily, swoon-worthy flavors like salted caramel, tiramisu, lavender vanilla, ricotta fig or the Gelato World Tour Competition-winning goat cheese and fig balsamic reduction. Plus vegan flavors and a popular gelato-making course that sends students home with two pints of their creation. From a gelato artist.

 

Greek

Opa Opa Greek Restaurant

122 E. Gay St., West Chester
610-696-4100 / OpaOpaGr.com

You know you’ve arrived at Opa Opa when you see the pretty Greek-blue storefront and smell fragrant herbs as the front door opens. Enjoy favorites, all served in generous portions—tzatziki, gyros, tempting pita, classic Greek salads, spanakopita and Greek yogurt—in a recently expanded dining room bordered by Greek island scenes on the wall. Try the truly special baklava with nuts drenched in honey; it’s so good you’ll get more to take home. Just try not to eat it on the way. Before your take-away bag gets full, check out the rice pudding and other goodies in the side refrigerator.

 

Grill Master

Restaurant Alba

7 W. King St., Malvern
610-644-4009 / RestaurantAlba.com

Steeped in hickory and mesquite, Chef Sean Weinberg prepares his trout, duck, pork, hangar steak and other meats as a virtuoso on his wood-burning grill, allowing their aromas to permeate the 125-seat dining room from the open kitchen. Restaurant Alba continues to merit its legendary status and anything from the grill is a gift. Locally sourced, the dishes on the menu list the “Family of Farmers” that supply the kitchen. The creative cocktails, strong selection of Italian wines and beer, mouth-watering desserts surround the main course with unimpeachable elegance. The antipasti (try grilled octopus), pastas (a passion), piatta piccolo—even the sides and locally grown salads—are wonderful. Alba earned numerous awards, including three bells, and deserves every one. If you’re looking for something more casual, head for Biga in Bryn Mawr.

 

Heirloom Tomato Celebration

Willistown Conservation Trust

925 Providence Rd., Newtown Square
610-353-2562 / WCTrust.org

Perhaps nature’s most splendid fruit, tomatoes are nutritious, tasty and versatile. And Pennsylvania heirloom varieties are a quantum leap better than the rest. Fresh-picked from the vine, as an ingredient or stand-alone dish, heirloom tomatoes make summer picnics special. Preserved in artisan sauces, they make winter meals brighter. To celebrate the red, gold and green marvels, Willistown Conservation Trust hosts an annual Tomato Tasting at Rushton Farm each August, and you should join them to celebrate peak season. Duck under party tents. Sidle up to red-checkered tables laden with rainbows of summer flowers and arrays of tomatoes, chutney, caprese and gazpacho. Add wine, beer, live music and a tour of the farm’s gardens and it’s a delight for growers and guests alike.

 

Hunt Country Meal

The Whip Tavern

1383 N. Chatham Rd., West Marlborough
610-383-0600 / TheWhipTavern.com

After the hunt or a week at work spent chasing your tail, unwind at The Whip. Prop your boots on the hearth, cozy up to the bar or head to the patio overlooking Doe Run and ask what’s on tap. The longtime, well-loved, award-winning British pub in horse country has pub grub favorites, but even better than the classics dished up across the Atlantic. Warm up with fish and chips, Welsh rarebit or curry. Cool down with ales, stouts, imperials, Uncle Jon’s Beer #1—an IPA from Stolen Sun Craft Brewing—or For Fox Sake cider from Big Hill Ciderworks.

 

Ice Cream Trail Stop

Chester Springs Creamery and Milky Way Farm

521 Uwchlan Ave., Chester Springs
610-827-1484 / MilkyWayFarm.com

Pennsylvania has an officially sanctioned Ice Cream Trail! Who knew? Now that you do, why not hit the trail. One of the 12 “cow-to-cone” stops is Chester Springs Creamery at family-owned Milky Way Farm. Make it an outing: say hello to the cows, go on a hayride and then choose a few scoops of some of the best ice cream around. Flavors are named for members of their herd. Bessie’s Black Raspberry, Blossom’s Butter Pecan and Molly’s Mint Chocolate Chip are just a few of the 48 that can be piled on cones or sundaes, whipped up in milkshakes or taken home in packages. It’s something to moo about.

 

Indian Cuisine

Bangles Indian Cuisine

889 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown
610-269-9600 / BanglesIndianCuisine.com

Bangles is a feast for the senses. One bite conjures a million images of India. Street food samosas call up colors, sounds and scents of bustling flower and spice markets. Aromatic biryani with seasoned yogurt and sides of warm naan bring to mind vivid silk saris and colorful bangles encircling wrists decorated with red henna. Gulab jamun, a favorite dessert dumpling drenched in sweet syrup, signals the end of the day when oil lamps are lit. Food from different regions of India with beautiful presentation in a wonderful setting—no wonder Craig LaBan listed it in “Best of the ‘Burbs” and diners keep going back.

Italian Feast to Pizza

Italian Feast

Toninos Pizza & Pasta Co.

235 Lancaster Ave., Malvern
610-240-9566 / ToninosPizzaAndPasta.com

From the Scotto family to yours come dishes of fresh house-made pasta, 30-inch Napolitano thin crust pizzas and mouth-watering mozzarella balls at Tonino’s. With a friendly welcome to newcomers and regulars alike, the restaurant continues a legacy of Nonno (Grandfather) Tony’s hard work and passion for food in a newly expanded dining room. Enjoy Tonino’s mesclun salad mix and lasagna in a booth under a grand colorful painting. Or treat the whole gang to gourmet pizza and limoncello mousse. Hold a private event or a feast in the new back room with an inviting mural of pretty flowers under Italian skies, Roman arches and market umbrellas.

 

Taste of Sicily

Fiorello’s Café

730 E. Gay St., West Chester
610-430-8941 / On Facebook

Welcome to a little bit of Sicily in West Chester, where Fiorello family members smile at customers as they enter, food and laughter are plentiful, and sometimes the whole restaurant breaks out in song. Beyond the warm Mediterranean atmosphere, the brick oven glows under the eye of owner and Executive Chef Danny Fiorello. There’s tomato and garlic focaccia on the table and wine bottles stacked along the wall. Come hungry—antipasto, heavenly artichokes, pasta, cannoli and some of the best tiramisu in town abound. Before leaving, get the cappuccino with a golden nugget of biscotti on the saucer. Bellissimo!

 

Italian Family Dinner

Limoncello Ristorante

499 E. Uwchlan Ave., Chester Springs
9 N. Walnut St., West Chester
610-436-6230 / LimoncelloRestaurant.com

Everyone knew: Sunday dinner was the best meal of the week. Sumptuous dishes. Glasses overflowing with wine. Enough room around the table and food for anyone and everyone who showed up … family, friends, even all the cousins. And there was always dessert. For a big Italian family dinner every day, look no further than Limoncello, where everyone wants to be. The chicken limoncello is superb and the veal saltimbocca is tasty. There’s plenty of wine—at the bar before dinner and at the table with your meal. For dessert, there’s always tantalizing cannoli and Mom’s Tiramisu, light as air. Go ahead—call up the whole family.

 

Italian Classics

La Verona

114 E. State St., Kennett Square
610-444-2244 / LaVeronaPa.com

Close your eyes as you savor the spinach and mushroom ravioli, gnocchi or tortellini pasticciati. With such cucina classica delights, you might believe you’re in Verona, Italy, where a winding river wanders through the medieval town. At the Kennett Square restaurant inspired by and named after the town, go for grilled octopus or a margharita pizza at the bar during happy hour. Or sample the zuppa or insalata at lunch. With its location near Longwood Gardens and its warm and relaxing atmosphere, dare we say it’s just the right ending to a visit to Longwood’s Italian water gardens?

 

Leisurely lunch

Spence Café

131 N. High St., West Chester
610-918-1272 / Spence.cafe

The Spence family operated several West Chester restaurants before World War I. Since moved, but today under Chef Andrew Patten, the Café continues making a name with locally sourced, hand-crafted dishes. Dinner is sublime, as you probably know. But we love Spence for lunch, particularly the Fall Harvest salad with apples, cranberries, and walnuts. The spinach salad with eggs, bleu cheese and poppy seed dressing is also especially good. As are the sandwiches: the shrimp and crab roll or short rib grilled cheese. Can’t choose? Pick two from the soup, salad, sandwich options. The comfortable white-table-cloth ambiance makes it easy to linger and savor a special lunch far from fast food or a sad desk lunch. BYOB on the patio for extra relaxation.

 

Jamaican

Miss Winnie’s

211 E. Market St., West Chester
484-266-0508 / MissWinnies.com

Even in the coldest snow, feel Jamaican sunshine as reggae music strikes your ears and a fabulous jerk pork sandwich with jicama slaw and zingy mango chutney hits your mouth. Three minutes into Miss Winnie’s and it’s easy to see why within its first year, the little restaurant earned big awards. Friendly, down-to-earth owner-founders Bert and Nick Johnston, Winnie’s son and grandson, treat customers like esteemed family and serve up terrific Jamaican family recipes at terrific value. Don’t miss the glorious steaming fried plantains—a little sweet, a little tangy, crispy outside, almost creamy inside.

 

Beef Jerky

Righteous Felon Jerky Cartel

Online store / RighteousFelon.com

Not rabbit food, nor just for cowboys, beef jerky is catching on as a healthy, high-energy, portable snack, high in iron and zinc. And Righteous Felon jerky is from dry-aged Black Angus beef, all-natural, pasture-raised, hormone and antibiotic-free, raised nearby on the Roseda Farm in Monkton, Maryland. Since 2012, the beef has been made into jerky under the watchful eyes of a gang of Downingtown brothers and their friends. You can (and should) read about the “jerky cartel” at the website. Buy O.G. Hickory (the original), Habanero Escobar (the spiciest), or any of a line of eight jerkies on-line from the company or from Kimberton Whole Foods, Di Bruno Brothers or other retailers.

 

Mediterranean

Byrsa Bistro

128 Glen Mills Rd., Glen Mills
610-558-4700 / ByrsaBistro.com

Past a magnificent rock garden and terrace for relaxing with summertime drinks, enter Byrsa Bistro in the Magon Legacy Estate home next to the historic Glen Mills train station. Stained glass windows sparkle. A candle-lit table cut from a century-plus old ash tree awaits. In comfortable elegance, begin your meal with a vegetarian Mediterranean sampler with divine warm pita and hummus, delicate stuffed grape leaves and scrumptious spicy carrots. Continue with generous portions of spicy paella, Moroccan-style chicken tagine or cavatelli and lamb. The BYOB with friendly, attentive staff also now offers its own reds and partner wines, including Va La’s delicious Prima Donna. Get swept away by its charm.

 

Fiesta Everyday

Más Mexicali Cantina

102 E. Market St., West Chester
610-918-6280 / MasMexicali.com

With one foot planted in Mexico and the other in L.A., the atmosphere at Más Mexicali is—cue the mariachis—fiesta-like! It’s a party on three levels with an extensive menu—food and drinks—for every mood and member of your party. Feast first on the appetizers—guacamole, quesadillas, tostadas—then turn to a soup or salad, and on to the main course—tacos, fajitas, burritos, chimichangas, enchiladas, and other house specialties. The first-floor Cantina is roomy and spirited. The Velvet Lounge offers a colorful, cozy second-floor respite. Come spring, at the top of the stairs, “Más on the Roof” opens to the best rooftop vista and sunset view of West Chester. But, wherever you go, take your time. There’s always mañana.

 

Pasta Dishes

Hearth Kitchen

Shoppes at Longwood Village, Kennett Square
484-732-8320 / HearthKennettSquare.com

Fans of Bryan Sikora were delighted by his return to the Kennett area with this rustic Italian kitchen near Longwood Gardens. The wood-fired pizza oven turns out magic and the entrees evidence an experienced hand. But it’s the hand-made pastas that uniformly get raves. Rolled or extruded, fresh pastas provide a soul-satisfying medium for the chef’s inspired seasonal sauces. Only the choice is tough—mafalde with smoked portabella, mushroom marsala gravy, toasted parmigiana bread crumbs; ricotta gnocchi with butternut squash, chestnuts, braised ham hock, shaved Brussels sprout, parmigiana; or radiatori with roasted duck, lemon peel, green peppers, olives, tomato reduction, fruity olive oil, parmigiana. Even the kids menu boasts garganelli pasta. No spaghetti and meatballs here.

 

Tastiest Little Pies

Nomadic Pies

132 W. State St., Kennett Square
610-857-7600 / NomadicPies.com

Everyone thinks of pie at Thanksgiving but at Nomadic Pies they’re so good, why not enjoy pies year ‘round? Five-inch sweet pies—just the right size to keep in the freezer for emergencies—are mounded high with fruit and a golden flaky crust. Buy a few piping hot little savory Marsala chicken and shepherd’s pies to share and sample, or keep one tasty selection for yourself. This year after selling the food truck that started the venture and gave it its name, the business is a bit less nomadic, but the popular pies can be found at farmers markets and the enticing home base in Kennett.

 

Pizzas

MidiCi The Neapolitan Pizza Company

201 Main St. Suite 100, King of Prussia
484-322-2579 / MyMidici.com

Under an olive tree planted in the middle of the bright airy room, admire the gleaming gold wood-burning oven. Then notice the ingredients on your pizza: the light, flavorful crust, from finely ground caputo “00” flour; ripe San Marzano tomatoes; extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil; Parmigiano-Reggiano; and soft, delicate mozzarella. The pizzas that emerge—classic Neapolitan and chewy, either specialty or choose-your-own—are unusually fresh, wholesome and authentic. Try best-selling double pepperoni or The Devil’s—house-made spicy sausage, spicy salami, chilies. The appetizers—homemade meatballs, house meat board or cheese board, are also inspired and delectable. With more than 45 locations nationwide, MidiCi is neither local nor unique. But it’s damned good!

 

Pizza By Elizabeths

3801 Kennett Pk., Greenville, DE
302-654-4478 / PizzaByElizabeths.com

Not your average pizza joint is a familiar description for this elegantly casual Greenville mainstay topping 25 years of celebrating specialty pizzas and Elizabeths. From the Queen to Barrett Browning, to Taylor and Arden, plus Boop and White (Bettys, too), the wood-fired pizzas include over a dozen creative combos in mini or regular size atop white, low-fat honey wheat, or gluten-free crust, with sauces from chunky tomato to pesto to alfredo, plus veggies and herbs. Or DIY from the long list of all natural ingredients. A dozen gourmet salads and pleasant wine and beer lists enjoyed at the self-described “swanky” lounge or the 125-seat dining room. Join the loyal following beyond Chateau Country.

 

Ariano Restaurant & Bar

114 S. Olive St., Media
610-892-6944 / Ariano.net

With over 20 specialty pizzas, a daily special and the option to customize, Ariano is a pizza lover’s dream. This charming family-owned and operated restaurant serves up Arianese-styled dishes from the Campagna region of Italy—from apps to house-made gelato and the risotto, a specialty. But back to the crispy, thin-crust pies coming out of the 900-degree wood-fired oven hand built with Tuscan clay bricks. Pick from the long pizza list, the Arianese—sweet sausage, artichoke, prosciutto, smoked mozzarella—to the Zio Luciano—spicy vodka sauce, organic chicken, fontina—or the special steak & gorgonzola. Choose a dining level, reaching the top via a spiral staircase to see the mural of the village of Ariano Irpino.

Ramen to Cookbook

Ramen

Rai Rai Ramen & Hawaiian BBQ

124 E. Market St., West Chester
610-738-8808 / on Facebook

Who doesn’t love a good noodle—thin, thick, flat, loopy, straight or otherwise? Foodies go once to Rai Rai Ramen and are hooked. Why? Attentive service—they’re greeted, seated and served quickly. Atmosphere—even Rai Rai’s clean, sleek look is appetizing. And great food. Options for dishes with authentic Japanese ramen are vast: with seafood, vegetables, oxtail, ribeye steak, chicken, pork, miso or curry-flavored, in superb broth, with gluten-free rice noodles and in all sorts of combinations. The chefs accommodate special requests whenever possible. Open in West Chester since 2017, it’s already a hot spot for lunch and a quick dinner.

 

Southern Classics

Dixie Picnic

215 Lancaster Ave., Malvern
484-320-8024 / DixiePicnic.com

Yes, ma’am, at Dixie Picnic the lunchtime pimento cheese and house-smoked Virginia ham sandwiches, potato salad and breakfast-time sausage gravy biscuits are as authentic as the portraits of the kin—Momma, Aunt Myrtle and others who handed down the recipes—on the wall. From the deviled eggs to the po’ boys and big selection of lip-smacking “upcakes”—upside down cupcakes iced on the top and sides to maximize the icing—vittles are served with Southern hospitality. Dig in at a sidewalk table, casual wicker settee indoors or bring your own picnic basket to fill and take home. Y’all must go.

 

Classic Steakhouse

Pietro’s Prime Steakhouse & Seafood

125 W. Market St., West Chester
484-760-6100 / PietrosPrime.com

A steakhouse ought to be simple: elegant but down-to-earth. And so it is with Pietro’s, offering classics like strip steak, filet, ribeye, all Pureland Premium Black Angus Beef, richly marbled, broiled to perfection. Zagat-rated, the onion rings are spectacular; the martinis, just right; the service, excellent; the live music and ambiance, comfortable and soothing. Since 1927, Pietro Guinta, who owned a grocery downtown at Darlington and Biddle, conveyed respect for the customer. So did his children and grandchildren, who absorbed the store and ran it at several different locations through 2006. In 2007, great-granddaughter Marisa and Sean Powell, the Executive Chef of Pietro’s, founded Pietro’s Prime, and continue that tradition.

 

Sushi Feast

Lily Asian Cuisine

104 W. State St., Kennett Square
610-925-3700 / LilySushiAndGrill.com

On Tuesdays, it’s All-You-Can-Eat sushi and sushi lovers rejoice! Fresh, beautifully and artistically served. Many customers swear Lily’s serves the best around, with about 20 varieties of sushi and sashimi—salmon roe, sea urchin, sea bream, eel, octopus, tomago, bluefin and white tuna, among them. Plus you’ll find 50 or so specialty rolls, everything from the simple California Roll to the exotic Angry Dragon Roll, with spicy tuna and king crab, shrimp tempura, avocado and sweet citrus sauce. Check what’s on the All-You-Can-Eat menu on Tuesday, but, in any case, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Innovative Sushi

Bluefin Eagleview

555 Wellington Sq., Exton
610-458-3234 / BluefinEagleview.com

Discover Bluefin Eagleview, where each creative specialty sushi roll—a delightful adventure for the eye as well as the palate—boasts a different flavor, texture and personality. Tiny crispy tempura chips give a satisfying crunch to the artful Wellington roll, named after the Square where the restaurant sits. Japanese-style pumpkin sauce lights up a unique shrimp tempura and cucumber seasonal maki. Don’t miss the spectacular oyster mushroom roll featured in County Lines, March 2018. All in a contemporary setting where granite tables gleam and attentive staff from award-winning sushi chefs to servers ensure your meal is superb.

 

Special Sweet Treat

General Warren

9 Old Lancaster Rd., Malvern
610-296-637 / GeneralWarren.com

If your bliss involves delectable desserts and chocolate treats, follow it to the General Warren, where the desserts are as fine as the dining. As champion for two years running at Sweet Charity—a dessert-focused annual fundraiser—Executive Pastry Chef Andy Sciarretta, C.E.P.C., has a treat for you. Sink your teeth into sumptuous chocolate ganache-covered cheesecake, French apple galette or hazelnut mousse in a chocolate shell. Order online from General Warren’s General Store and pick up award-winning praline pecan cheesecakes or mini pastries: eclairs, key lime tarts, Black Forest verrines and more. Magnificent to the eyes as well as the taste buds, they’re a triumph.

 

Theme Dinners

At The Table BYOB

11 Louella Ct., Wayne
610-964-9700 / AtTheTableByob.com

People who love to eat are always the best people,” says a Julia Child quote above the open kitchen in At the Table. And people love to eat recipes of the best chefs—inspiration for 4-course menus paying homage to two culinary legends who influenced Chef/owners Alex Hardy and Tara Buzan. Julia Child, who inspired chefs and home cooks alike, was honored with a menu including vichyssoise, seared duck breast, boeuf a la bourguignonne, tarte tatin. The menu for Thomas Keller, of Napa’s French Laundry and New York’s Per Se, included Acadian oysters and pearls, bowfin caviar, foie gras, strip steak—bone marrow, bordelaise sauce, plus honey cream tartlet. Visit to see what’s at the table now.

 

Tea Time

The Lincoln Room

28 W. Market St., West Chester
610-696-2102 / on Facebook

Make lunch a tea party at the Lincoln Tea Room, where tea is queen. Caffeinated, decaf and herbal—try peach or cinnamon apple cider-infused—the teas served elegantly in pretty teapots and teacups are excellent, as is the food. Delightful tea sandwiches include tomato basil, chicken salad, the classic cucumber, boursin with fresh green apple on cinnamon bread and more. What’s tea without a scone? Take a traditional scone with lemon curd for lunch or cinnamon toffee slathered in Devonshire cream for dessert. All these pleasures are available in a comfortable tea shop that’s never stuffy—whether or not you choose to use the Queen’s English or elevate your pinkie. Tea time or anytime.

 

Vegan

Love Again Local

18 S. Church St., West Chester
484-266-7381 / LoveAgainLocal.com

For those who love vegan, there’s something new to love in Chester County—Love Again Local in West Chester. Slide into green chairs in the friendly, open space and dig into dishes of the 100% plant-based menu. Fans rave about Cuban and Vinny sandwiches. Enjoy holiday wheat and soy “turkey” sandwiches with mugs of cocoa. For those shying away from meat and cheese substitutes to simply celebrate vegetables, dive into salads. For kids, there’s a PB & Jam Jam Jr. (gluten-free version available, too) with a cookie and juice box. For more fun, sign up for their plant-based cooking and nutrition classes.

 

Local Cookbook

The Fox’s Kitchen from The Hounds Foundation

1701 Horseshoe Trail, Chester Springs
610-601-9008 / TheHoundsFoundation.org

Subtitled “Cherished Recipes from Philadelphia’s Historic Radnor Hunt,” this addition to kitchen shelves or coffee tables has targeted its audience. Dedicated to Betty Moran and sponsored by The Hounds Foundation, the cookbook is stuffed with recipes from Radnor Hunt members and friends along with gorgeous photos, some history, foxhunting etiquette and more. The 15 menus, with a hundred recipes, include Tailgate Party, Fox & Hound Fireside Meal, Bitches’ Brunch, Huntsman’s Gathering and Tallyho, Let’s Eat. The menus offer an array of dishes, but the cocktails and appetizers are legendary: Polo Punch, Devon Julep, Earl Grey Gin & Tonic, plus artichoke and caper dip, easy fig spread, Texas caviar dip, blue cheese pecans, chutney cheese pate. Add Scotch eggs and venison chili, plus caramel and sea salt brownies, and Talleyho, indeed!

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