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Restaurant Review: Pizzarella Grille

Patch stops in Bryn Mawr this week.

Restaurant: 

Address: 958 County Line Rd., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010 
Rating: (out of 5 stars): ★★★1/2
Style: Pizza, sandwich and salad cafe
Food: Better than average pastas, melts, hoagies, chicken sandwiches and salads
Atmosphere: Warm and welcoming
Parking: Medium size lot
Service: Efficient and polite
Price Range: Most items are less than $10
Unique Feature: This place has signature salads and freshly baked breadsticks.

The pizza shop and salad café are pretty much ubiquitous dining outposts in suburban areas and college towns. Despite the anti-carb trend that is causing many restaurants to announce all their low-carb offerings,  is unabashedly pro-carb. This casual eatery offers plenty of pizzas (hand tossed, specialty and Grandma’s), calzones, strombolis, pastas and dozens of sandwiches, both hot and cold. For the scared-starchless, there are delicious salads (but they come with homemade garlic bread sticks.)

After a rough week of too much work, not enough free time and minimal exercise, I headed to Pizzarella Grille for dinner. The set-up is upscale cafeteria, you order your food, get a number and patiently wait. There are gorgeous TVs on opposite ends of the clean and fairly lit dining area. I perused the crowd and saw families, students, elderly couples and single women. The color scheme is very warm—lots of wood and earth tones. The friendly counter guy brought me my to-go order and I headed out.

I split the Main Line salad, Parma pizza and pomodoro pasta with my dining companion. The salad with baby spinach, hard-boiled egg, bacon, dried cranberries, red onions and goat cheese with a side of blue cheese dressing was very good. Some places use really cheap blue cheese dressing that is mostly sub par oil, but this dressing was full of blue cheese flavor and quite rich and decadent. It wasn’t overly salty and coated the vegetables nicely. The spinach was fresh and crisp and the eggs light and fluffy. The bacon was crisp and not overly fatty and the cranberries provided a wonderful tart and tangy contrast as well as interesting texture to the salad. The red onions were mild in flavor and the goat cheese was not the smooth and creamy goat cheese I had been expecting. It tasted and felt more like a crumbly feta cheese with the saltiness to match. I would order this salad again in a heartbeat. I especially loved the garlic breadstick that came with it. This doughy, savory and slightly dense breadstick was warm, toasty and slathered with oil, garlic and herbs.

The pizza was a bit disappointing after the fantastic salad. The prosciutto was in knotty chunks instead of gossamer sheets. The tomatoes were bland as was the fresh mozzarella cheese. The toppings didn't make it even close to the edge of the pie. This was more like a round flatbread than a “specialty pie”.

The penne pomodoro was tasty. The generous portion was bathed in a hearty tomato sauce that was well seasoned and bursting with tomato flavor. I added some chili flakes for an added kick, but it didn’t need it. The penne was cooked a nice al dente and the same delicious garlic bread stick made an appearance. At $7.99 this is a great bargain since it was enough food for two meals (I’ll bet there was almost a whole pound of pasta). As an added bonus, the pasta tastes better the next day after the noodles have absorbed some of the sauce.

The service was efficient and polite. The menu advertises the Pizzarella Grille as being “modern, creative and innovative." While I wouldn’t particularly agree with this characterization, I will say that the food is the best when it is classic, traditional and delicious. The pasta and salad really did it for me while the specialty pizza missed the mark.

Click here for the website.

Click here for the menu.

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