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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The menu is comprised of eight classic cold and hot antipasti, five primi and six secondi dishes, plus a small selection of house-made desserts. For starters, there’s the cured salumi platter, or try the tender octopus, swimming in a bowl of garlicky sweet-pea stew. The bucatini all’amatriciana’s squiggled pasta strands are served in a zesty tomato sauce with house-cured Berkshire pork pancetta for a rich, smoky complement. It’s Demontis’ favorite item on the menu for a reason.

Among the main plates, my tender balsamic-brushed grilled swordfish arrived atop a mound of cannellini beans and baby arugula. The polpette al sugo—meatballs and buttery ricotta gnocchi in an earthy tomato sauce—was also satisfying, if a bit pricey. (“Twenty-two dollars for four meatballs?” my companion posed.)

The dessert menu is similar to Fraschetta’s older downtown sibling. The brief list includes a dense, flourless disk of chocolaty crème caramel and another in-house specialty, fluffy tiramisu.

In a post-visit interview, I commented to chef Demontis on his restaurant’s acoustics, which can go from a buzzing din to a full-on cacophony as the evening progresses. “Rose is looking to buy carpet to deaden the sound,” he said, while adding another bit of good news. “We’re opening the second floor. By October, it should be up and running.”

The upstairs area will add 40 or so seats and allow for larger parties.

So space really isn’t so limited, after all.

The Skinny: With its homey Italian cuisine, upstairs expansion and lunch service coming at any moment, this more suburban take on one of Center City’s most popular BYOBs is fast becoming one of the better options on the Main Line, as well.

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