Avalon Pasta Bistro: Chef John Brandt-Lee’s Second Act

Rustic Italian tapas? This Downingtown restaurant is redefining family style.

(page 1 of 4)

Avalon Pasta Bistro

Location: 78 W. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown.
Contact: (610) 873-4200, pastabistro.com.
Cuisine: Rustic Italian, served tapas style. 
Cost: $35 for a four-course tasting flight; cheese and salumi $15-$30 for three to seven choices. (Cash or check only.)
Attire: Smart casual. 
Atmosphere: Homey yet sophisticated. 
Hours: Lunch: Wednesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Dinner: Tuesday-Saturday 5-10 p.m.
Extras: Outdoor patio seating. BYO with complimentary Victory beer and homemade sangria.

Roasted pepper and preserved tuna wraps with lemon-caper rémoulade. See more photos below. (Photo by Steve Legato)Before John Brandt-Lee took over West Chester’s Avalon in 2002, his only professional connection to the place was the fact that he’d recently designed the restaurant’s website. But after Avalon’s then-owner jumped ship, Brandt-Lee stepped in. “How hard can it be?” he thought at the time.

He would soon find out. At first, he left Avalon to the mercy of other chefs, one of whom left him in a real mess. Then, Gemelli’s Clark Gilbert came on the scene, agreeing to stay on briefly to teach Brandt-Lee how to cook so he could eventually run his own kitchen. Things started to turn around, and after almost three years under the tutelage of Gilbert and other chefs, Brandt-Lee felt confident enough to take Avalon in a different direction—his direction.

Ever since, the rustic Italian eatery has thrived. And that success has led to the recent opening of a second restaurant, Avalon Pasta Bistro.

Continued on page 2 ...