Address: 134 Bala Ave., Bala Cynwyd
Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★
Style: Italian seafood restaurant
Food: Tasty with plenty of seafood items and Italian classics
Atmosphere: Casually elegant (nice table settings but no dress code)
Parking: Street parking can be difficult.
Service: Good, and dressed in black
Price Range: Moderate
Unique Features: This BYOB features seafood selections that change depending on what was caught that day and fresh pasta made in-house.
When you walk into there is a handwritten chalkboard sign that reads "The Anastasi Family welcomes you!" and this sentiment remains with you throughout your meal. Pescatore is Italian for "fisherman" and not surprisingly this restaurant features the treasures of the sea and Italian specialties.
We sat down and our bottle of red (a lovely Beaujolais) was quickly opened and poured for us. The chef's mother played hostess and greeted us warmly and sincerely. Soon after a plate of bright green pesto was brought out with thick slices of bread. The pesto hit all the right notes, I could taste the fresh basil, garlic, parmesan and rich olive oil. My dining companion hates basil and even he enjoyed this wonderfully layered pesto.
We started off with Nonna's meatballs and the Tuscan mussels. The meatballs were made with the trifecta of meats: beef, veal and pork and would make any Italian grandmother proud. Hearty but not chewy with bursts of parmesan and pepper, these protein packed parcels paired quite well with the delicious tomato sauce. The ricotta crostini on the side also did well with a tomato dip. Both elements of the appetizer were delicious enough to be enjoyed solo.
The Prince Edward Island mussels with Italian sausage in a spicy tomato broth were outstanding. The mussels were unbelievably fresh and so tender. Silky and delicate in a velvety rich broth, the mussels and Italian sausage combined to form something even tastier than either could be on their own. The buttery broth begged to be sopped up with the toasted garlic crostini.
For our entrees we had the Wild Salmon with frutti di mare special and the gnocchi of the day. The salmon was cooked just until done rendering a gorgeous bright pink filet which was still quite juicy. The assorted seafood (clams, mussels, shrimp and lump crabmeat) bathed in cream sauce was quite decadent and highly enjoyable. While it might not be advisable to eat such a rich entree on a daily basis, it was a fantastic entree for a night out. The mashed potatoes also had plenty of cream, butter and the right amount of salt and pepper.
The gnocchi of the day were in a gorgonzola cream sauce. Freshly made gnocchi should have a lightness to them. Overworking the gnocchi dough can result in hockey pucks or pasta that resembles stones. These were a touch large but they had the lightness I was looking for. The gorgonzola cheese sauce was wonderfully savory, creamy and rich.
The well prepared side of broccoli rabe was redolent of garlic, glistening with olive oil and had a sprinkling of red chili flakes. The broccoli rabe was cooked enough to be slightly tender but still have some bite to it.
For dessert we had the homemade chocolate chip cannoli and macerated summer berries. The ricotta filling for the cannoli was only slightly sweet and deeply satisfying. The shell had a crispness to it that can only come from being made fresh (and not coming out of a box). The berries macerated in brandy and sugar were a light way to end the meal (if you didn't indulge too heavily in the whipped cream). In both cases, the desserts hit the spot and were a nice sweet coda to our Italian maritime feast.
The service was welcoming and friendly. It is a casually elegant and jovial atmosphere where the focus is on enjoyment. The staff at Pescatore BYOB want you to have a great dinner and a great time. Don't let the white tablecloths fool you, though it appears to be quite refined, the goal of the restaurant is to make you feel like family.
Click here for the Pescatore BYOB website.
Click here for the Pescatore BYOB menu.