Bryn Mawr Restaurant Review: Melograno's Gianluca Demontis and Rosemarie Tran Open Fraschetta

Bryn Mawr finds room for its own version of one of Center City’s finest Italian eateries.

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Polpo alla romana, with octopus, sweet peas, tomatoes and fresh mint. (Photo by Steve Legato)
Location •
816 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr
Contact • (610) 525-1007
Cuisine • Roman "peasant" fare
Cost • $22-$32
Attire • Smart casual
Atmosphere • Intimate and energized, especially during prime time
Hours • Lunch: 11:30 a.m.- 2:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. Dinner: 5:30-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 5-9 p.m. Sunday
Extras • BYOB; reservations highly recommended

Space, as the old adage suggests, is limited. Few restaurateurs grasp this quandary like Gianluca Demontis and Rosemarie Tran, the husband-and-wife duo behind Melograno in Center City.

When the couple got started 10 years ago on the corner of 22nd and Spruce streets, theirs was a speck of a trattoria (just 30 seats), serving inspired Roman-style cuisine. The diminutive gem became exceedingly popular—too well liked, in fact. Foodies lined up in droves pining for chef Demontis’ rustic, homey offerings.

Soon enough, Melograno became one of the hardest tables to score in town, and the couple relocated to a larger space on 20th Street, where it remains one of Philly’s best BYOB bets.

So it’s really no surprise that Main Liners have wholly embraced Demontis and Tran’s new Bryn Mawr venture, dubbed Fraschetta in homage to the open-air food marketplaces along the Roman countryside. From the moment it opened in late June, the cozy Lancaster Avenue space has been teeming with happy customers. It’s like Melograno all over again. 

The restaurant’s interior is sparse but tasteful. Reclaimed wood panels from a Lancaster County barn line one side of the narrow room; brickwork runs along the other. A large mirror, a mounted pig’s head, family photographs and wooden beams overhead all work together to create an inviting atmosphere with a decidedly neighborhood feel.

The Roman-born Demontis lives just down the road, and he now spends much of his time in the kitchen at Fraschetta, where his output is spectacularly haute yet stunningly simple. His Mario Batali-like culinary prowess belies an innate feel for uncomplicated authenticity.

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