Taste West Chester - Autumn 2023

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226 N High St, West Chester











Letter from the Editor Kate Chadwick introduces the issue


am a writer at heart. Don’t get me wrong; I do love editing and have a natural affinity for it, but writing is what I would do if putting a sign in front of my house that reads “Person writing a book lives here— please send checks” would work. As an editor, one’s focus is so broad, one’s hands on every feature and column, it’s easy to lose track of one’s own creative spark. That’s why, occasionally, a story pitch will land in my inbox that will make me say “WHY didn’t I think of this??!” It’s not unlike the sensation I experienced when my children were little and every single time l laid eyes on SpongeBob SquarePants, I became instantly furious that I didn’t dream him up myself, but I digress. So, when Annie Walsh pitched the Delco to Chesco story for this issue, it hit me in the feels. I was a regular at each of the original locations for Carlino’s, Pica’s, and Nick’s Roast Beef. A regular regular. We lived in Upper Darby when I was a teenager — I even waitressed at Pica’s for a brief spell. In my twenties, I spent an inordinate amount of time at the Red Eye Tavern in Springfield, and when Nick’s took its place in 1998, it was easy for me to shift into cold-beer-and-best-roast-beef-sandwich-ever mode. I bought my first house within walking distance of the original Carlino’s, and I shopped there once a week without fail. Today, I need two hands at least to count the number of friends and family members who’ve made the move from Delco to Chesco. I think it’s safe to say that we appreciate the fact some of our favorite and most iconic eating and drinking establishments have followed suit. Speaking of following trends, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention pumpkins in our autumn taste issue. They are, after all, the ubiquitous harbinger of the (best) season. Lke Taylor Swift—love ‘em or hate ‘em—they’re unavoidable. For those of you who just can’t imagine the season without them, Kanan Gole provides a comprehensive guide on where to get your pumpkin-flavored (fill in your favorite food or beverage here) this autumn. This is a food issue, so we didn’t even get into sourcing all the fab gourd décor or crafting options around town—you’re on your own for that. But we’ve got you covered for all the creative ways some of your favorite places present their pumpkin fare for your eating and drinking pleasure. In other exciting food news, we get a sneak preview of the impending arrival of 9 Prime, the new Italian steakhouse opening on High Street in December. This promises to be a truly impressive dining addition to downtown WC, and we are here for it. And of course our recurring columnists cover your dining destinations for every meal of the day. We hope you savor this and every issue of Taste, and we thank you for reading. —kate@tastewestchester.com

Back of House

STAFF PUBLISHER Dan Mathers dan@thewcpress.com

MANAGING EDITOR Kate Chadwick kchadwick@thewcpress.com

ADVERTISING MANAGER Nick Vecchio nick@thewcpress.com

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Jesse Piersol jpiersol@thewcpress.com Becca Boyd bboyd@thewcpress.com This pumpkin is hidden on the pages of this magazine five times.

Find all five, and send an email to contests@thewcpress.com for a chance to win a Saloon 151 gift

“When a man's stomach is full it makes no difference whether he is rich or poor.” -Euripedes SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER & STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Erik Weber @westchesterviews CONTRIBUTORS Becca Boyd bboyd@thewcpress.com Andrea Mason amason@thewcpress.com DJ Romeo romeo@thewcpress.com

Published By... The WC PRESS & Mathers productions, LLC 1271 Phoenixville Pk West Chester, PA 19380 mathersproductions.com 610-299-1100 TASTE West Chester is the food-only spinoff of The WC Press. It’s mailed to 3,500+ local readers and dropped off to more than 200 locations. For a free subscription, mailed or digital, visit thewcpress.com/subscribe

Today’s Menu 11 #TASTEWC We’re printing our favorite photos from our fans A SLICE 13 SAVOR There’s no such thing as bad pizza — some are just better than others OF CHAMPIONS 15 BREAKFAST The most important meal of the day. @ JACO FRIES 17 SMALL Dining out with the young ones in tow. @ Bar AV TO CHESCO 19 DELCO Established Delaware County eateries are making the move SPICE AND EVERYTHING NICE 27 PUMPKIN Where to get your Pumpkin Fix in West Chester A ROLL 37 ON The best foods served between slices of bread. @ Rolling Stars FOR PRIME TIME 39 READY The arrival of 9 Prime will elevate West Chester’s dining scene & FUNCTION 45 FORM The borough’s best kitchens and dining spaces. @ Mimi's Tea Cottage OUT 47 DINING Sampling some of our town's best meals. @ Limoncello NIGHT 55 DATE Dinner for two with quality time and quality food. @ Spence Cafe HUNT 61 PHOTO Find the five changes, win a gift card







Like and follow us on social media, then tag us in your posts for a chance get your work published here. Our favorite image each month () will earn its photographer a gift card to @saloon151. 








Savor a Slice

Carmine's Pizzeria Honey Mustard Chicken Sweet, savory and rich — you get all three with this one slice. Carmine's has been around since the '80s, and they've done so by making great pizza. This house specialty, with grilled chicken, mozzarella, honey mustard dressing and crumbled bacon on top is a perfect example of how they've found success for 30+ years.

There’s no such thing as a bad pizza, but that doesn’t mean some aren’t a cut above. photos ERIK WEBER @westchesterviews

Saucey's Sweet 'N' Sassy This slice is one-of-a-kind, because you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone else who's putting sweet red chili sauce on their pies. Add to that a bit of chicken, a layer of mozzarella, drizzle of ranch dressing, and this slice ticks all the boxes.

America's Pie My Blue Heaven You can keep your salad and breadsticks — we'll take this slice which is an improved combination of the two. With a mozzarella base, it's got a balsamic reduction, cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers, arugula, grilled chicken, prosciutto and sharp provolone. PUBLISHED BY THE WC PRESS




Breakfast of Champions The most important meal of the day can also be the most delicious way to start it. This Month: Jaco As a borough resident circa 2013, I enjoyed the occasional stop at Baco Tacos, the first walk up juice/taco/acai bowl spot in town. Some time in the last 12 years, the name changed to Jaco, and they acquired the real estate next door to offer dine-in seating. My stilted brain somehow missed this expansion (which is apparently common, as I’ve shared the good news with many of my friends), and only visited for my first sit-down meal a few months ago. Chagrined, I realized it was a must for my Breakfast of Champions column (and how did I wait this long?), so I set the date to meet with Sophia Delvescovo, the general manager—and a general delight. She graciously prepared several dishes, juices, and shakes that further illustrated how this gem has earned its stellar reputation in the hearts of borough dwellers and beyond. I started with the Mean Green juice, and it was a virgin experience for me. As someone who prefers the more filling smoothie to a juice, I didn’t understand the hype. The celery, ginger, and kale popped first—it was a bit like a punch in the face but in the best possible way. It finished with a hint of sweetness thanks to the apple juice, which kept me coming back for more. Though I’m a converted fan, if you’re a more conservative juice drinker then try the Baco: psychedelic colors, a burst of fresh orange followed by the surprisingly delicious taste of the carrot juice, all tinged with that defense boosting ginger. Need something more filling? Their smoothies are becoming iconic. I’ve tasted the Nutter Butter and the Hipster thanks to my dessert loving daughters, but the one Sophia had me try trumped them both. The Brooke House combines La Colombe coffee, banana, cacao nib peanut butter, vanilla protein, cinnamon, and agave. It tastes like a Frappuccino and a peanut butter banana smoothie had a baby, and it would be the ideal treat after a strenuous workout.

Next up was the Quinoa Porridge, which was a surprise, because I probably wouldn’t have ordered it—and what a mistake that would have been. Just mildly sweet, the blueberry compote is tart, lemony, and completely masks that hint of bitterness you can sometimes taste with quinoa. The candied almonds add crunch, and the flavor is all aromatic vanilla, warm cardamom, and just a hint of cinnamon. I will be coming back for this as the weather turns cold. The Breakfast Veggie Quesadilla and Basic Burrito were similar and more typical orders for me. The quesadilla had way less cheese than you might picture and was jam packed with roasted veggies and greens, whereas the burrito had fresh Pico de Gallo and fresh avocado. Both had a generous amount of scrambled organic eggs, all wrapped with a thin, blistered (but not greasy) tortilla. Two orders that could read like heavy calorie bombs, prepared

in a way that tastes healthy, hearty, and downright scrumptious. Last but by no means least, The BLT Bagel with Cream Cheese. Order it with the everything bagel, pretty please. Paired with thick cut, perfectly cooked bacon, shredded lettuce, and tomato, it’s the sort of sandwich you eat without putting down, not even a little bit concerned that there’s cream cheese on your face. Jaco prepares their dishes from scratch, using the freshest food they can supply, and are eager to substitute based on any sensitivities you might have. Open from 7am-5pm, every day of the week (closes at 4pm in the winter), it’s the spot for all day breakfast, divine shakes, and innovative juices with a bend towards health without sacrificing flavor. It’s my kids’ favorite, and I’ll be back very soon. photos & story BECCA BOYD @homebeccanomics





Small Fries Some suggestions on the best destinations when dining out with the young ones in tow. This Month: Bar AV When you have kids, your weekends start to look a lot different... and involve much less sleeping in. On the upside, waking early means you can beat the crowds at all the hot brunch spots, and you can snag a table before all the child-free patrons roll out of bed and line up outside, squinting at the sun behind their hangover shades. And if it’s not getting first dibs on a no-reservations spot, there’s the opportunity to reserve a spot (and a highchair) and try something a little more upscale and special before it gets too crowded. Brunch, the most delicious (yet often neglected) meal of the day. The perfect marriage of sweet and savory, all the best parts of breakfast meet the best parts of lunch in a food-coma inducing state of deliciousness. Brunch was something most of us became familiar with in our twenties, when we were old enough to have a respectable hangover and still get out of the house, just not too early. But now that we’re parents, that doesn't mean we have to say good-bye to our favorite mimosas and bloody Marys. While we may not get to hit brunch every weekend like the good old days, it can become a regular family tradition as long as you know where to go. One of our more recent go-to spots for my little family has been Bar Avalon. Normally a popular date night destination for my wife Shannon and me, we’ve discovered that Bar AV might be the best brunch location in town. John Brandt-Lee, executive chef and owner, has a way of creating food that is fragrant and mouth-watering with impressive flavors and always has a beautiful presentation. For example, the “Judy Foodie Short Rib Pasta Special” is a treasure of a dish, and I would highly recommend it to anyone with taste buds. I’ve asked for some of his recipes to try at home for years and he always laughs at me, never actually responding. Which is fine. Keeps us coming back!

On one particular pre-Eagles game brunch adventure (Go Birds!) my daughter Olivia rolled our stroller, with my son Zac in it, into the front doors of Bar AV on her own. She was so overcome with excitement when she realized where she was. “Daddy, this is the place with those really good glazed donuts.” Croissant Beignets are a little too fancy to explain to a 5 year old, but these flaky little wonders are a spin on a traditional beignet that you can only get at Bar AV. Brunch or dinner, somehow my wife always ends up with these on the bill. “Yes, it is!” I responded, “But before dessert we need to eat some brunch. Now sit down.” Bar AV offers a small kid’s menu with all the essentials. Scrambled Eggs & Bacon, Brioche French Toast w/ berries, Pasta with White or Red sauce

and Olivia’s favorite, the Chicken Fingers & Fries… with extra ketchup. Zac is in a weird stage of eating where, this week, he only wanted french fries, which Olivia had plenty of coming. My wife and I were feeling a little spicy for the birds game and decided to split a “Bloody Mary Fixin Board”. Each board is more than enough for two, with celery, blue cheese olives, roasted red peppers, cherry tomatoes, cornichons, salami, cheese, mini shrimp cocktail and of course two bloody Mary cocktails. Follow that up with the “Filet Tips & Two Fried Eggs” and you will find yourself in a food utopia. The sauce is out of this world on the filet tips, and one day I do hope I get the recipe for at least that. (Are you reading this, John?) story & photo NICK VECCHIO @djromeo24






Like many of Chester County's transplanted residents, established Delaware County eateries have made the move.


ore often than not, when you meet a new person in Chester County and ask them where they’re from (mainly due to the hard-to-place accent), the answer is Delco, which is, of course, local shorthand for Delaware County. When two Delco people meet and learn they share an origin, the question becomes, “Where in Delco ya' from?” because this matters, for reasons to which only Delconians can relate. I know. I’m one. Delconians are foodies. We are very particular about certain delicacies, and

when we must have them, we get them. I moved to West Chester in the late 1980s, and I loved it. There is so much to love in Chester County!However, there was something missing. I realized this when I found myself driving 45 minutes for a particular sandwich, pizza, or sweet baked treat. The craving was so strong that I would take that road trip to Delco just to get that “must-have'' food. Imagine the delight of the many Delconians who migrated west to Chester County when their Delco favorites followed them. Chester Countians now know

the mouth-watering pleasure of a roast beef “on the out” combo from Old Original Nick’s Roast Beef, or the upside-down reverse squareness of Pica’s pizza, or the wonderfully overwhelming variety of Italian specialty foods in one spot until Carlino’s rolled into town. Like most people in Delco, their roots are in Philly. The same goes for a lot of restaurants as urban sprawl created the demand. Carlino’s was first, then Nick’s followed, and finally, Pica’s joined the Chester County restaurant family.





Carlino's Market 128 W MARKET ST

Where in Delco ya' from?


The original Carlino’s has been in Ardmore since 1983 where it gained a large and loyal following. Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “Isn’t Ardmore in Montgomery County?” Yes and no. There is a part of Ardmore that falls on this side of County Line Road that is technically Delco. Carlino’s is the answer to the nights when you just don’t feel like cooking. Carlino’s is the answer to the expectation of bringing something delicious to share at a gathering. Carlino’s is also the answer to your large and small catering needs. Carlino’s is the Italian Market of the suburbs. Before settling in Delco, Carlino’s brought their family-owned business, going back six generations, from Italy. “Where in Italy ya' from?” The Carlino family came from just outside Rome on the Adriatic side, Abruzzo. Patriarch Pasquale came to the U.S. in the early 1900s, and his daughter-in-law, Angela “Mama Carlino,” who became well-known and loved among her neighbors, followed soon after. A familiar face in the Ardmore store, a family photo in her memory hangs in both locations. The family business is still run by second and third generations; Nick and Angela joined their parents, Pat and Laura Carlino. In 2007, word on Market Street was that Carlino’s was opening a spot in West Chester. My Delco philosophy of “I’ll believe it when I see it,” kicked in. I watched with great anticipation, observing the renovations at a former appliance store. Then the day came. On October 16, 2007, Carlino’s West Chester location opened. Walking through their doors for the first time, I was impressed with the size. It’s bigger than the original Ardmore location. The delicious smell, the freshness, and the sheer variety of offerings made me feel as if I were transported to a marketplace in Abruzzo. You may recognize some of the names of others who have been transported over the years as well: Jay Leno, Patty Labelle, Ernest Borgnine, Lori Greiner, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, and Andy Reid. Let’s take a tour. Your cart will fill up quickly, so you may have to go back and trade in the carrying basket with the handles for a rolling cart. Enter Carlino’s West

Chester to a clean and colorful produce section to the left and a sea of cheese to the right. The variety is immense and, as a cheese snob, I immediately checked for the good ones and the harder-to-come-by cheeses. They were all there. Noice! (That’s Delconian for “I am pleased with this.”) Continuing down the aisle, you will find choices of sauces (or gravies). I call it “sauce” with a strong Delco accent, and I am not interested in discussing the sauce or gravy debate. It doesn’t matter what you call it. At Carlino’s, they call it sauce. All sauces—and there are many—are made using fresh, rustic, old-world family recipes that have not changed for at least six generations. Like you, I am one who is picky about a sauce that was not made by my mother. Same goes with meatballs. I took one for the team and tested them all. I have been testing them out for several years now. I can’t stop. Moving on to the pasta. You need to see it to believe it. They have it all and it’s all homemade fresh pasta of every vari-

Cheese Please So much more than a grocery, Carlino's is stocked with highend, delicious foods, and their cheese selection is unrivaled. ety you could imagine. A giant deli space greets you with gourmet salads, sandwich options, or just a plain old hoagie (that rivals everyone’s favorite hoagie place). I mispronounced it, saying it phonetically when I ordered the “quinoa” chicken balsamic salad, but the guy behind the counter didn’t judge me. He’s probably Delconian as well. Tomato pies, olives, and cappuccino, OH MY! Spices and olive oils and vinegars too! Carlino’s is set up so that you walk through in a logical way, saving the final part of the tour near the checkout: the bakery. All breads are freshly baked in-house. The sweet treats have taken me off the most stringent diets and have been totally



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worth it. From pastries to cakes, you should be warned that this is a place where you will make a lot of delicious decisions. Carlino’s has plenty of seating, making it easy to swing through, grab lunch, and continue back to work or shopping or visiting your kids at college. It’s hard not to leave there without immediately eating something straight outta the bag. I have rarely witnessed someone leaving Carlino’s without a white bag and a smile—and maybe some crumbs—on their face.

Old Original Nick's Roast Beef

1215 WEST CHESTER PIKE Where in Delco ya' from?


Once upon a time, there was an Italian woman cooking in her kitchen in South Philly—a perfect beginning to any story about food. Her name was Elsa DeSipio. Everyone loved her cooking, especially her delicious roast beef gravy. Her biggest fan was her son, Nick, and Nick had an idea. This is how the “Original Nick’s,” keyword, ORIGINAL, came to be in 1938 at 20th and Jackson Streets in South Philly. People loved it. It’s still there today. Legend has it that Frank Sinatra would roll up for some takeout when he was in town. A true family business, Nick’s sons, John and Gene DeSipio, kept things going in the right direction, followed by John’s daughter, Lili, and her husband Jeff McKinney. Thankfully, their kids, Patrick and Megan, with her husband, Brian Rose, continue cranking out Elsa’s recipe for an incomparable roast beef sandwich experience. When Philadelphia’s families grew and moved out of the city and into the Delco suburbs, they would return to South Philly for a particular sandwich they craved. After 60 years in business, it was time to expand and, in 1998, Springfield, Delco, the second Nick’s “Original” opened their doors on the site of the old Red Eye Tavern. As Delconians continued to move to the west, the demand followed, and in the restaurant’s 85th year, Nick’s opened their West Chester location in 2015. For you foodies who love modern swanky food with an artistic presentation, get off your high horses when you pull into their parking lot at 1215 West Chester Pike.

Roasted Right Since the very first day they opened in 1938, pictured at right, Nick's has been famous for their beef. Don’t expect anything fancy schmancy here. You get your sandwich on a white paper plate. The presentation doesn’t matter when you find yourself craving that meal again. And you will. Nick’s also serves South Philly staple sandwiches besides hot roast beef, such as roast pork and roast turkey…all with their famous homemade gravy. It wouldn’t be South Philly style without the broccoli rabe option as well. I’ve attempted to replicate Nick’s roast beef sandwich at home, even down to serving it on a paper plate. It just wasn’t the same. The “Original” Nick’s flavors could not be replicated. Perhaps it’s partially due to the beef supplier. Nick’s gets their beef from that plant featured in the original Rocky film (remember Sylvester Stallone beating up a huge side of beef?).

Nick’s Original Roast Beef is always USDA Prime. Perhaps the cooking time, or herbs and other special ingredients they use just weren’t the right amount when I tried to copy it at home. No longer do Philadelphians, turned Delconians, turned Chester Countians need to make the drive very far to satiate the craving for their usual. My usual is a roast beef combo—that means with cheese—"on the out” (that means the crispy edges of the beef mixed in). Just writing the last two sentences made my mouth water [Editor’s note: same] and gave me a strong desire to leave my vacation on a beautiful day down the shore to get some Nick’s.





Pica's Restaurant

1233 WEST CHESTER PIKE Where in Delco ya' from?


In West Philadelphia, born and raised, Pica’s pizzeria opened in 1941 on 62nd and Race Streets. This is a love story that evolved into a beloved pizza. The story begins in the early 1930s, when a young man came to America alone at the age of 17, from Fumona, Italy. He got himself a job delivering bread for DeLuca’s Bakery in West Philadelphia. He would deliver bread up and down the streets as was done back then. The DeLucas taught him how to make the dough and he experimented with turning that dough into pizza, which he would give, then later sell, to customers. Frank Sr.’s pizza won the hearts of his customers—and he also won the heart of the DeLucas’ daughter, Jenni. Frank “The Customer Always Comes First” Pica, Sr. and Jenni opened their first snug pizzeria with a few small tables and a brick oven. Then in 1956, Frank Sr. and now Frank Jr. movedthe operation out of Philly to West Chester Pike in Upper Darby. The next chapter of this story takes them just up that pike, to West Chester. In 2017, Pica’s West Chester location was opened by Frank’s children: Angela Pica-Oandasan, Frank Pica III, and Lori Rosario, with her husband Emmanuel taking over the kitchen as their Executive Chef. Their menu is abundant, offering every Italian platter you’re in the mood for. They also offer small and large-scale catering, as well as accommodating small parties at this location. Angela told me that they underestimated how many pizzas they would need. While they tried to open quietly, word had gotten out. They were sold out of pizza by 5pm on opening day! They made national television when Upper Darby native Tina Fey appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. One of Fallon’s writers (also from Delco) had a pre-show interview with Fey, and they bonded over Delco culture and their love of Pica’s pizza. Phone calls were made, and a special delivery of Pica’s pizza (two pepperoni and one plain) was made from Upper Darby to New York City and presented to Fey as a special gift during her appearance. Angela Pica-Oandasan said,

Distinctive & Distinguished Pica's pies have the tomato sauce on top of the cheese, a technique that dates all the way back to the 1940s in their original location in West Phildelphia “We had a major uptick in business in the weeks after that!” Pica’s not only has loyal customers, they have loyal staff. “We just want to recognize the loyal staff we have had throughout the 82 years of operating,” Angela said. “We have key employees that have been with us for 40-plus years, each contributing to our success. We’re grateful for their dedication and loyalty.” If you’re asking yourself, “What makes this pizza different?” The answer is obvious by just looking at one. While most pizza is circular, Pica’s is square. Back when Frank Sr. made his first pie, they used square pans. That’s old school. Most pizzas start with dough on the bottom, then the sauce (not gravy), then cheese, then the toppings. Not at Pica’s! They put the cheese

UNDER the sauce, and it’s freshly shaven. Again, authentically old school. From Philly to Upper Darby to West Chester, people love their Pica’s! Chester County Delconians are unapologetically proud of where they come from. Delco has its own culture, and food is a big part of it. Carlino’s, Nick’s, and Pica’s are still Delco, but also Chesco—like so many WC residents. photos ERIK WEBER @westchesterviews story ANNE WALSH @ANNIEWALSH1111






and everything nice

Where to get your Pumpkin Fix in West Chester PUBLISHED BY THE WC PRESS





utumn is a favorite season for many, and despite the odd weather patterns the world has been experiencing, we hang on to the aesthetic of these months for dear life. We’re sweating through our sweaters, wearing plaid long sleeves with denim cutoffs, and hoping that the more pumpkin spice lattes we drink, the more we’ll feel the comfort, nostalgia, and warmth of the season. I’ve always believed that it’s the best season in West Chester, with its bright blue skies, crisp air, and gradient hues sweeping through the trees, though it feels like it arrives later and later each year. This is the season of apples, cranberries, caramel, and the warm spices simmering in mulled wine on the stove. But the most popular motif, ingredient, and symbol of the season is the pumpkin. It sits on our front porches in October and is baked into a pie in November, and is always somehow found in a latte.

...if you dedicated a Saturday to a pumpkin crawl across the borough, it would actually be quite an autumnal culinary experience. This is your pumpkin guide to downtown West Chester. The amazing thing is that every place offers something different (except for the pumpkin beers - Dogfish Pumpkin Ale seems to be the bar favorite). What I have realized, while checking in with restaurants, bars, bakeries, and cafes in the borough, is that this gourd’s versatility is incredible. Every October, chefs, bartenders, bakers, and baristas across town serve up the classics, like pumpkin pie, soups, and spiced lattes, but also get creative with craft cocktails, cheesecakes, fudge, cupcakes, and even bubble teas. Point is, if you dedicated a Saturday to a pumpkin crawl across the borough, it would actually be quite an autumnal culinary experience. If you’re not tired of the gourd by the end of it (or even by the end of this article, considering the number of times I’m about to write “pumpkin”), then on Sunday, you can go to one of the farms in this guide, donning your best scarf to take cute pics for the gram,

while sitting in an entire patch of pumpkins and trying not to sneeze from the hayride you took to get to it. For our theoretical pumpkin crawl through West Chester, let’s begin with a warm drink and maybe a pastry for breakfast at one of these cafes: Grab a coffee and a treat at Yori’s Church Street Bakery. They have baked uncountable numbers of pumpkin donuts, buttercream sandwich cookies, muffins, cupcakes, rolls, and pies. Each year, they sell around a thousand pumpkin pies alone. Everything is made fresh and in-house.

Leaning Tower of Please Us Does that look like a lot of buttercream and pumpkin cookie? Sure does. But we've never been able to say "no" to Yori's baked goods. The charming Dia Doce is known for getting creative not only each season, but each week. Their cupcake flavors change every Tuesday. On their cupcake menu, every week there’s a pumpkin fla-





vor for fall until the day before Thanksgiving. Annual favorites include the perfectly named Basic Babe, a pumpkin spice cupcake, and the less basic pumpkin chocolate chip cupcake, with its cream cheese frosting and cinnamon dusting. Other flavors have included: pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin apple pie, pumpkin Biscoff cookie, pumpkin cinnamon bun, bourbon pumpkin pie, and classic pumpkin pie. If that’s not enough, along with these cupcakes, they feature a rotating pumpkin latte special in house at Cathey’s Coffee. Their recent lattes have included toasted cinnamon pumpkin, pumpkin French toast, and white chocolate pumpkin. Talk about embracing the season! We love it.

Turks Head Cafe Locally roasted, locally baked and — yes — that's a Jack-OLatern in your latte. What more could you ask for? Turk’s Head Cafe is trying new pumpkin latte recipes this year. The World’s Best Pumpkin Latte features graham crackers, coffee, and pumpkin syrup. The Dirty Pumpkin is a caffeine rush, with pumpkin chai and an espresso shot, and finally, there’s the Pumpkin Caramel Latte, which is what it is. Pair these with a pumpkin and cheese muffin, or a pumpkin, chocolate chip, and

cherries muffin. If you would like to keep it simple, grab a cold brew with a pump of pumpkin syrup. If you are exasperated and just want a pumpkin spice latte that’s not from youknow-where, go to Gryphon, Mae’s, Twin Valley Coffee, Gemelli Gelato, or Mayday Cafe - which also has a pumpkin chai and pumpkin iced coffee, all made with an in-house syrup. Twin Valley Coffee, one of West Chester’s newest cafes, also has its own medium-roasted pumpkin spice coffee beans, which are roasted locally in Morristown. Take them home for consistency in your seasonal aesthetic. If you’re not a coffee person, pumpkin-flavored tea is, incredibly, also an



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photo courtesy @gemelligelato

option. Mimi’s Tea Cottage opened this summer and is an Instagrammable setting for High Tea, which is a full afternoon tea service. They’ve made it seasonal by offering creamy pumpkin soup as a starter and chocolate pumpkin brownies as a dessert. If you’re stopping in just for tea, they also offer a pumpkin chai masala, an herbal blend with pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom, and marigold flowers. Kung Fu Tea offers pumpkin oolong milk tea, pumpkin coffee drinks, and a pumpkin smoothie drink. Because every season is bubble tea season, add some tapioca to any of these options and make it a bubble tea. Then, it’s time for lunch... perhaps after a nice stroll around town to digest breakfast. Josh Taggart, the Chef and Owner of Mae’s, enjoys experimenting for the menu. The restaurant is popular for its farm-to-table freshness, so the plates always hold seasonal ingredients. Have a bowl of warm pumpkin soup, made with ingredients sourced from a farm

A Few of Our Favorite Things Flavors of cheesecake, caramel, amaretto cookie and pumpkin all whipped into this absolutely decadent gelato. No matter the season, Gemelli is a delight. in Chadds Ford. Taggart is considering bringing back the pumpkin bread pudding with a caramelized pear and bourbon sauce, which he featured for the borough’s Oktoberfest. For dessert, show some love to West Chester’s newest bakery, Eden Sweet House, where the baker has put together a luxurious pastry menu for their first autumn in town, including pumpkin cookies, cheesecake, French puffs, and crepe cakes. There’s also the borough dessert icon, Gemelli Gelato. Each year, they bring out a crowd-favorite pumpkin spice gelato. This year, they are introducing a new flavor: the caramel pump-

kin cheesecake gelato, which has fresh mascarpone and amaretto cookie crumble. Decadent, I tell you. Time for a drink! Perhaps this pumpkin crawl was a bad idea in hindsight, but at this point, we are committed. Most of the bars in town are going to have pumpkin ale and cider bottled or on tap for the season. Head to Barnaby’s for some Dogfish Pumpkin Ale and Downeast Pumpkin Cider to pair with the football game that’s on that day. If you prefer a creative cocktail, Side Bar and Restaurant’s Autumn cocktail list includes a Pumpkin Spice Martini, with pumpkin vodka, pumpkin puree, and espresso Kahlua. Their beer options include the popular Downeast Pumpkin Cider and Cider Doughnut, the Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale, and the 2SP DelcoFest. Another autumnal cocktail option can be found at Split Rail Tavern, which highlights their Pumpkin Old Fashioned, brewed with brown sugar pumpkin syrup, Bulleit rye, molasses bitters, and a cinnamon stick as a garnish.





Over at Saloon 151, they’re bringing back their Pumpkin Pie Martini this year. It’s made with Salted Caramel Vodka, RumChata, Crème de Cacao, and pumpkin puree, served up in a crushed graham cracker-rimmed glass. This is not a comprehensive list of every place in town where you can get your pumpkin fix, but the wide variety presented here is amazing. If you can still stomach the sight and flavor of pumpkin at the end of this marathon, prepare for the next day. We’ll go pumpkin picking. Over 26,000 visitors make their way to Highland Orchards each fall for pumpkin, apple, and raspberry picking, hayrides, to attempt the corn maze, and for their famous apple cider donuts. Highland has been open to the public for over 80 years and has had pumpkin picking for 40. Pumpkin picking is open on the weekends, and their patches have a wide array of sizes. In their market and bakery,you’ll find pumpkin pies, bagels, muffins, mixes to make your own pies at home, and teas. Everything is local, from neighboring Lancaster County. This year, from October until the second week of November, Highland is hosting a Fall Fest on the weekends, which will have a beer garden, local vendors, and local wineries. Highland offers tours of the orchard as a field trip for the area’s schools as well. Students learn about how they grow their crops, and each classroom receives a pumpkin and a mini gourd. These tours are quite popular and are sold out for this season; bookings for each fall begin in September. The most photo-ready spot at Highland’s, other than the many pumpkin patches to choose from, is at the front by the market display wagon that also is decked out with mums and pumpkins. Also, head to the beer garden area for the best sun and lighting. If you just want a pumpkin pre-picked and call it a day, head to Thornbury Farm and CSA, a true landmark in Chester County’s history. It’s not only the area’s oldest farm, established in 1709, but it was also the site of the Battle of Brandywine and a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Saloon 151 Salted Caramel Vodka, RumChata, Crème de Cacao, and pumpkin puree with a crushed Graham cracker rim Through the fall, they sell pumpkins and gourds of all sizes, and in their market, they have pumpkin fudge, pie, bread sourced from a bakery in Parkesburg, and spiced pumpkin butter. After getting your pumpkins and baked goods, take some photos of the historical landscape. Perhaps also sign up for one of their history tours to learn about the farm’s exciting story. Bring the kids and take some photos with Daisy

the donkey, Rue the mini pony, the goats, and Clover, their pet pig. There you have it. A spectacular pumpkin spread across West Chester. Of course, rather than do a pumpkin crawl in one day, you might want to pace yourself through the season. You will not run out of options to keep your autumnal mood on point. We’re excited to see carved pumpkins on porches and pies on tables across West Chester this season. Wishing you all a wonderful fall, full of time with loved ones, and all the warmth (and chill) and nostalgia this season carries. photos ERIK WEBER @westchesterviews story KANAN GOLE @KANA_ADVENTURING






On a Roll Sampling all of the borough’s best foods served between slices of bread. This Month: Rolling Stars The second thing that grabs my attention when I breeze into Rolling Stars on East Market at lunchtime is the decor. The bagel shop and restaurant, which opened in 2020, expresses its chic style through a black-and-white theme that spans from the whitepainted brick walls to the matte black Naugahyde benches. On the far side of the spacious open dining area are large landscapes in saturated hues of rust, ochre, and cerulean blue that feature swaths of vast desert unfurling toward distant mountains, evocative of the Bonneville Salt Flats. Given the amount of ceramic tile and wood paneling, along with uncarpeted floors, I am impressed by what I don’t hear: other people’s conversations, even when seated nearby. Classic rock from the 70s and 80s plays at a decibel level pleasantly perceptible but effortless to tune out, depending upon your disposition toward the likes of Jefferson Starship and Elton John. The well-managed noise level also makes it a good spot to bring a laptop and work for a few hours while noshing on a bagel and coffee. Another perk: free WIFI and an electric outlet at every table in front of the booths. Avocado Toast Kane, our server, has been here since May, and he arrives with giant cups of coffee, which hits the spot on an overcast day. He recommends the avocado toast as both a personal favorite and popular menu item and suggests a sesame bagel from the myriad options, which he says pairs especially well with the flavors and textures of the avocado toast. It’s no wonder why this is a favorite. A layer of creamy, whipped ricotta adorns the face of the bagel, followed by a generous helping of arugula lightly dressed with vinaigrette, and topped with what appears to be a whole avocado sliced super thin and fanned out across the entire bagel. Tiny dollops of whipped ricotta dot the top, finished with a sprin-

kling of lightly salted, toasted nuts, including sliced almonds and walnuts. Sandwiches come with a choice of sides, including coleslaw, pickle, and a chicken Caesar pasta salad, the latter of which I chose at Kane’s suggestion. Rounding out each plate is a handful of bagel chips, which are crispy and light without being break-your-teeth hard. The Roll, er, Bagel The bagels at Rolling Stars are huge. How huge? For a sense of scale, the plate on which my avocado bagel-toast arrives is a large oval serving dish that might be passed around the family table at a holiday gathering. The plate spans more than three quarters across the width of the table. (Yes, I moved my plate to the edge of the table so I could measure.) On the dish sit the two bagel halves, which take up almost the entire plate. Bagels are made fresh every day. They are chewy and toothsome, and toasting really brings out the flavor without making a hard crust.

Earlier, I wrote that the décor was the second thing I noticed. The first thing? The rainbow bagels in the case out front. Bright red, green, yellow, and regular bagel-colored streaks stand out from anything else at the entire counter. Breakfast and brunch at Rolling Stars provide additional opportunities to enjoy their fresh, unique offerings. For breakfast, Kane’s favorite is any of the breakfast sandwiches on a bagel, topped off with a smear of one of their homemade cream cheese spreads, such as jalapeno. Bonus: Their location on the outskirts of the borough allows for easy parking, with ample room in front of the strip along with additional parking out back, with zero steps and an open floor plan friendly for everyone, even those with mobility issues. Roll on in for your next sandwich. photo ERIK WEBER @westchesterviews story JESSE PIERSOL @JESSEPIERSOL





READY FOR The arrival of 9 Prime will literally elevate West Chester’s dining scene







n a town that embraces restaurants like old friends, the arrival of a new eatery always creates a bit of buzz. And although it won’t open its doors until December, the chatter has most definitely been humming for 9 Prime, a steakhouse that promises to give new meaning to the words “destination dining.” In the building that formerly housed the First National Bank of West Chester, the expansive multi-level space at 9 North High Street is undergoing a stunning revival — undertaken by local developers Con-Wal Development — as an immersive dining-out experience. Take three stories and four bars, add a celebrity chef, innovative cuisine, and luxurious appointments in a refined setting, and West Chester—you’ve got a new favorite to add to your go-to restaurants list. If you don’t believe us, check out their Instagram feed. But we went one better and caught up with their General Manager, Jerome Jones, for a bit of a peek behind the curtain at the team behind 9 Prime. It will take a seasoned professional to run an endeavor of this scale, and Jones comes with quite the pedigree. “I have been in the restaurant industry for over two decades and have held all front-of-the-house positions—and have even done some work in the back of the house,” Jerome told us. “I have been in management in some capacity for the last 10 years. Hospitality, training, and development is my passion.” Jones’s background includes stints in New York City, Philadelphia, and California. “Steakhouses and high-end dining have been my niche, and I love the experience that the level of service provides each guest and the team.” The site of the venue was a deliberate and thoughtful choice. “9 Prime will be the first restaurant of its kind in the West Chester market, and while we are excited to bring something new to the community, we are also thrilled to be in a space that pays homage to the town’s history,” Jerome said. “A unique, one-of-a-kind dining experience deserves a unique and oneof-a-kind home, so the old bank building was the perfect location for 9 Prime.” Indeed, it seems like every aspect of the restaurant is meant to set it apart, from the dramatic setting to the celebrity PUBLISHED BY THE WC PRESS


chef. The kitchen will be helmed by Italian-born Fabio Viviani—chef, restaurateur, entrepreneur, cookbook author, and television personality. “So, as with everything that Chef Fabio does, the food at 9 Prime will be both classic and modern,” according to Jerome. “As an Italian American steakhouse, guests can expect to enjoy premium steaks, chops, chicken dishes, homemade pasta, and more. A handful of Chef Fabio’s nationally known signature items, like his acclaimed meatballs, are also likely to appear on the menu.”

“” 9 Prime will be the first restaurant

The objective here, though, is to be exceptional without being exclusive. We asked Jerome who he’d imagine as the patrons of 9 Prime. “I imagine that 9 Prime will attract everyday people looking for an elevated dining experience,” he said. “Our restaurant is quite large and multifaceted. That, coupled with the breadth of our menu, means that 9 Prime will be perfect for everything from an intimate date night or an evening out with friends to a family dinner or a special occasion event. While our space is stunning and the food will be exceptional, 9 Prime is also approachable and welcoming.”

And if you’re in a bank…there’s gonna be a vault. Sad to say there are no large wads of cash lying around, but on the upside, you can eat and drink in this one. “The vault is such a special, historical piece of the restaurant and we cannot wait for guests to enjoy it! We have gone to great lengths to maintain and restore its integrity,” Jerome told us. The vault will hold tables for regular dining, and it can also be reserved for semi-private events.

of its kind in the West Chester market, and while we are excited to bring something new to the community, we are also thrilled to be in a space that pays homage to the town’s history. -Jerome Jones, General Manager


So, elegance around every corner, several spaces for eating and imbibing, next-level cuisine, all set in a soaring historic building…what else could this place

possibly have? Well, year-round terrace dining, of course. “We will have an all-season terrace space that will accommodate approximately 70 guests,” Jerome said. “It’s currently being built on the Market Street side of the building and will be a beautiful space for al fresco dining and drinking this spring!” And as excited as West Chester is to welcome them, Jerome says that 9 Prime is ready to embrace us right back. “We are excited to be as involved in the community as possible. We’ve already started connecting with local organizations to kick off those relationships. In addition to being a place where the community gathers for great food and great drinks, we also want to be an entity that gives back to the West Chester community all the time.” Early December is the projected target opening of West Chester’s new kid on the culinary block—just in time for the holidays. See you there. rednerings courtesy 9 PRIME @9primewestchester story KATE CHADWICK @KATECHADWICK61 6





Form & Function Exploring the design concepts of our borough’s best kitchens and dining spaces. This Month: Mimi's Tea Cottage Mimi’s Tea Cottage is a brand-new tearoom between Market and Miner on High Street. What a delightful experience you will have here! Visiting this charming and already bustling space (make a reservation!) will make you feel pampered and cozy, with all the special feelings that you would get when spoiling yourself and your taste buds. Owner Karen “Mimi” Klein was excited to tell us about her menu favorites and the story and setting behind her magical Mimi’s Tea Cottage. When you step into Mimi’s, you are no longer in West Chester; you are in a tranquil cottage somewhere in England, adorned with florals, pastels, teapots, and fancy chandeliers. And that’s exactly the feeling that Karen wanted to convey to her patrons. She worked with interior designer

Chrissy Gizzi to recreate the special experience her mother, sister, and their children had experienced while visiting tearooms together. With her love for tearooms and passion for baking, she decided to combine them to create her own place for making memories. The ambiance is cozy from the mix of stone and wood plank walls and the added textural florals adorning those walls. It’s all in the details here, with everything from their beautiful china and teapot collections to my favorite, the pink British-style telephone booth when you first walk in the front door. Among the noteworthy embellishments is the floral mural drawn by talented local Laura Stockdale (@laurarose. studio). Point your eyes up to see the beautiful floral lattice that Chrissy Gizzi customized with crystals and twinkle lights. This place has eye candy everywhere you look. This even includes the bathrooms decorated with lovely wallpaper, pretty cupboards, and wood countertop sinks. Make sure to stop at their little shop in the front of the tearoom where you can purchase teapots, various types of teas, honey, linens—and even fun fancy teatime accessories like boas, white gloves, aprons, and fans.

You can enjoy a bottomless pot of tea or accompany it with food, both savory and sweet. One of Mimi’s favorites (and mine!) are their chocolate chip scones and crumb cake. You really do not want to miss how soft her scones are, and they pair so perfectly with the thoughtfully curated list of teas. All scones are served with the traditional lemon curd, clotted cream, and jam. Mimi’s also serves tea sandwiches, soups, quiche, and more notably their full afternoon tea which includes all of that. The presentation is flawless with the food served on a beautiful and classic threetiered platter. The menu changes monthly keeping things fresh and interesting. This is a place where you will want to take your time, eat, sip, savor, and enjoy the warm, whimsical environment. It’s the perfect setting for a quiet and relaxed catch-up with a good friend, or to celebrate a baby, bridal shower, or birthday. Mimi’s Tea Cottage is open Thursday through Sunday for lunch from 10:30am-4pm. I recommend planning a trip to try this gem out for yourself. story ANDREA MASON @andreamasondesign photo ERIK WEBER @westchesterviews





Dining Out Sampling some of the borough’s best meals in West Chester’s premier dinner destinations. This Month: Limonello Trying to get my family together, especially for a meal, often feels like an exercise in futility. We are a large, busy, and ever-expanding group, and there’s plenty of diversity within our clan when it comes to opinions about food. For instance, my youngest sister is a vegetarian, and as best I can tell her girlfriend’s happy to subsist solely on spicy tacos. And while my brother is also on the Mexican-for-every-meal train, I don’t think my mother-in-law would show up for a reservation at a restaurant without an extensive wine list. I’m certainly not blameless. Almost a decade ago I stopped eating pork, and my justification was that I’d read somewhere on the internet that pigs were smarter than dogs. Unfortunately I’ve

read a lot of other things on the internet since then, so the list of animals I don’t eat keeps growing. I can be insufferable to dine with. But, who doesn’t love Italian, right? That’s why, on a random Tuesday night, me and six of the people I love the most (all of whom drive me crazy) ended up at Limoncello, West Chester’s granddaddy of Italian cuisine. They’ve been doing it right since before my 19-year-old sister could speak in complete sentences. As seems to always be the case, Limoncello was busy when we arrived. Every table along their red-brick lined and flower box-adorned patio was filled with diners, and guests took turns holding the door for the constant stream of comers and goers. Seeing the state of things from the sidewalk, and assuming we wouldn’t be getting a table anytime soon, my mother-in-law walked right on through the front door, gave the hostess a quick smile and made her way to the marble-topped bar. She was promptly

Ricotta Board Warm focaccia served with whipped ricotta and plenty of honey would be an equally valid order for dessert. served a Chardonnay, which received an approving nod after a quick sip. She had been lucky to snag the only open seat at the bar, with all the others occupied by after-work regulars, couples on dates, and a few friends getting together for cocktails, all of whom were happily swapping stories, sipping drinks and snacking with a familiar comfort. My wife, who was a little less decisive navigating the crowded lobby, followed her mother to the bar and insisted she was perfectly fine standing, since she’d been sitting all day. As they streamed away, I put on my best I’ve-worked-in-a-restaurant face and apologetically approached the hostess, my body language intended to convey, “I know I’m the worst, I’ve been





where you are, but I’m about to ask you to seat a table of seven, at 7pm, with no reservation, and I hope you’ll be nice.” And she was, simply saying, “Oh, you don’t have a reservation? Give me a second to see how we can accommodate you, but it might be a little bit of a wait.” “That’s fine,” I said. “My family is always late.” Like clockwork, I got the expected text from my mom telling me she was running “a little late” just as I stepped away from the stand. I texted back saying it was okay, that they were trying to find a table for us, and that we were hanging by the bar. “Order me a sauvignon blanc,” she said, “I’m gonna need it when I get there.” The problem was, Limoncello proved to be more accommodating than expected. Right after ordering my mother’s wine, the hostess found me to say that they’d pushed together a few tables for us. This immediately sent me back into my apologetic posture to explain that only three of the seven people had actually arrived. I was again surprised by

Limoncello Tossed This is the kind of salad you can’t/won’t make at home. There is just so much going on, and yet it all blends together perectly. her, “No problem. We’ve got the table ready for you. Just let me know when they’re all here.” As she walked away, Mom came through the door like a whirlwind, and after a quick hug and hello she found her Sauvignon Blanc then plopped into the now unoccupied bar stool beside her counterpart. The two moms immediately fell into laughter, which spread to the customers beside them. I started calling my siblings demanding updates on their timelines, because — in my overwrought mind — I was beginning to look like an absolute fool to this hostess. In fairness to my sister, I’d misinterpreted the text she’d sent as, “Let’s do dinner at 7pm,” when what she’d actually said was, “We’re working until 7pm,

let’s do dinner after.” But somehow she and her girlfriend were the next of our group to walk through the door at about 7:20. By that point we’d started clogging up the bar, and I knew that my brother’s “I’ll be there in five minutes” was really more of a “Dude, I have no idea how long it’s gonna take me,” so I found the hostess and told her we were ready. Limoncello occupies a pair of adjacent row homes along the modest slope of Walnut Street. You enter into the lower of the facades, which houses the host stand, the main dining area, and the bar where we had been hanging, all in one large, open space. We were whisked up a pair of stairs, beneath a brick archway and into the adjacent building, filing past a smaller dining area with views out large windows to the street, From there were passed the open kitchen with it’s broiling pizza ovens, to a more secluded space with exposed brick walls and an intimate feel. I seated myself at the far corner of the table and immediately began to stress about losing half my party on



seriously, it’s safe to scan - go for it



the 100-foot walk to our table. But, our server continued to assuage my stress. Taylor didn’t seem the least bit fazed by the fact that her seven top still had four empty seats, that everyone who was planning on drinking during dinner was at the bar arguing over who was going to pay that tab, and that two of the three people actually at her table had managed to eat all seven portions of the complimentary bruschetta in the 30 seconds she’d spent introducing herself. “I can see you’re hungry, but we’re still waiting on a few people,” she said with a smile. “I’ll be back in a couple of minutes, and we can talk about maybe putting in some appetizers.” Thankfully it’s hard to go wrong with this menu, so when my eyes scanned over “ricotta gnocchi” as an ingredient, I quickly ordered the Chianti Braised Short Rib. Fortunately for my sanity, the three wine drinkers weren’t actually that far behind us, and my brother made it to

Chianti Braised Short Rib There’s no need to touch your knife with this fork-tender, rich and savory entree. the table before Taylor returned. Still dressed in his ACAC uniform and looking on edge, I decided against teasing him about his timing. And fortunately for everyone else, in an effort to try and redeem our tardiness with Taylor, my anxiety had pushed me to prepare some app orders for the table. I knew from prior experience that it was impossible to go wrong with the Arancini — beef bolognese, peas and mozzarella encased in rice, then breaded and fried to a crispy, golden-brown perfection. I asked my wife to pick something, but she “didn’t want to make another decision today.” Since not everyone at the table ate meat, but nobody was gonna say “no” to cheese, I threw in a Ricotta Board. The focaccia bread that came with had the perfect amount of olive oil, making it slightly

chewy but still crusty and crunchy. I dipped it directly into the jar of beautiful whipped cheese and decadent drizzles of honey and immediately felt a little better. My efforts to save Taylor time were hamstrung by my mother-in-law’s questions about the Limoncello Tossed salad, specifically, “What comes on it?” and “What is the dressing?” I’d like to be clear that the menu explicitly states: chopped romaine, olives, red onion, cucumber, cherry tomato, marinated artichoke, roasted red peppers, baby fresh mozzarella, basil white balsamic vinaigrette. I thought it sounded like there was too much going on for a single salad, but I should’ve known to trust Limoncello, especially about anything they put their name on. While the salad had a multitude of flavors, each was in perfect proportion, and the vinaigrette was a nice touch on top, not overpowering the other flavors or soaking the greens. While we waited on apps, I coached our team into entree choices and made sure everyone was prepared to order.






Except, apparently, me. I was so focused on everyone else that when Taylor asked what I was having I drew an absolute blank. The stress of our daily lives had melted like the mozzarella on Maya’s margherita, and this beautiful meal and exceptionally accommodating staff had restored our sanity. Thankfully it’s hard to go wrong with this menu, so when my eyes scanned over “ricotta gnocchi” as an ingredient, I quickly ordered the Chianti Braised Short Rib. My panic order couldn’t have been better. The short rib shredded under my fork and was set off nicely by the chianti demi. This was served over velvety gnocchi with a rich parmesan cream sauce. Another hit was the Chicken Limoncello: egg-dipped chicken, asparagus and lump crab with lemon and white wine sauce, served with your choice of linguine or broccoli rabe... which we ordered with both. As with the salad,

the chicken proved it’s always a great move to order the namesake dish. Halfway through my short rib I took a moment to sit back and observe our suddenly (and blissfully) quiet table. Everyone was digging into a dish they were deeply enjoying, and many — like me — had begun to show signs of slowing down. Conversation was returning, but in a much less manic, frenzied way. It was jovial, instead of “here’s the awful thing that happened today.” Maybe I’d been overthinking things, and I definitely needed to eat, but there was something more going on here. My guess is it’s something many of us get caught up in during the middle of the week: work. Amber, Maya, and Jimmy all rushed to dinner straight from finishing a shift. Barb and Lisa both needed a drink after their days. Morgan was burned out from making too many decisions. I was anxious from trying to control too much. But after just half an hour inside this establishment, that was all gone. The stress of our daily lives had melted like the mozzarella on Maya’s margherita, and this beautiful meal and

Limoncello Cake If a dish has the name Limoncello in it, order it. This establishment stands behind its name exceptionally accommodating staff had restored our sanity. So, even though I was already stuffed when Taylor came back to the table to offer dessert, I knew we could use just a little more indulgence. The family debated a few different items and asked for a whole bunch of extra spoons. A few digestifs were ordered, and although most of us needed boxes for our entrees, nobody shied away from diving into dessert. For my part, as soon as Taylor mentioned the Limoncello Cake, I knew it was a winner and that I’d need only one spoon. After all, if there’s one thing I’d learned to trust, it’s the name Limoncello. photos ERIK WEBER @westchesterviews story DAN MATHERS @DANIELKMATHERS





Date Night Dinner for two at some of our favorite spots for quality time and quality food. This Month: Spence Café Want to peek behind the curtain? Lest you think of me like Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding, I’m not that kind of food critic. No surprise attack, no panicked servers. I prefer to meet with the manager, sometimes the chef, around midafternoon. They give me a little history, expound on the desired results of their culinary efforts, and showcase dishes that not only are they most proud of, but they think will lend your date night the je ne sais quoi it needs. The distractions are few (aka other diners) and the natural light is perfect for photographing food.

If you’re native to West Chester then you know Spence has been around for ages, but in various locations. It’s belonged to Henderson High School grad Chef Andrew Patten since its genesis.

We all know by now that food brings people together, and as is almost always the case, what starts as a somewhat stilted, professional meeting ends with a hug and the promise to return soon. So, let me use my date with The Original Spence Cafe’s manager Gina Shaw to elucidate when to go, what to order, and how to enjoy every delicious second of your date at Spence. If you’re native to West Chester then you know Spence has been around for ages, but in various locations. It’s belonged to Henderson High School grad Chef Andrew Patten since its genesis, and its current spot is on High Street near Chestnut. The charming, classic West Chester building is full of light from the large, original windows; tables are spaced to keep conversations private, and the working fireplace blazes in colder months. The back patio, strung with lights, is ideal for a cool summer

night date and is where I plan to reserve a spot for my next date. Though I’ll soon get into the details of the food, I’d be remiss to not mention perhaps the number one reason Spence stands apart from the other fine dining establishments—it’s BYOB! A rarity in town, and just the thing to set any date off in the right direction. The vibe changes depending on which night you go: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. So let’s dive in. We’ll start with the weeknight date. You don’t necessarily care about the scene, but you want quiet conversation, top-notch food you don’t have to prepare, and lastly, it’d be nice if the meal is budget friendly. This date is for spouses and ladies’ nights—sorry, but men don’t seem to dine out in groups as often as women. Start off with the Caesar or Mixed Green salad (because it’s a weeknight and you’re trying to eat

Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwich salted caramel ice cream smushed between lightly crunchy oatmeal pecan chocolate chip cookies. healthy), then share the generously portioned Lump Crab Nachos and either the Steamed Clams or the Boom Boom Shrimp. The broth from the clams is so garlicky and delicious that you’ll ask for extra bread, and it’s okay if you smell like garlic because you will, and none of you will care. Now, all the desserts look fantastic but for this date night, since you’re skipping the entree, order the Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwich with Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies. First, it’s enormous, and it’s cut into four sections, so no fighting




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over bites at girls’ night. The cookie is something I’d like to recreate at home — perfect crunch, balanced flavor — and the salted caramel ice cream is the ideal complement. You’ll leave with full bellies, full wallets, and big smiles. The next date night is Friday, and it’s for romantics. I like a Friday date night because, with the close of the workweek, there’s relief and celebration. Sit on the patio under the string lights if the temperature is right or ask for a table near the fireplace in the back room. Your table is set apart so no one will hear your conversation, but the space has high ceilings and a background din that feels convivial and bright.

I like a Friday date night because, with the close of the workweek, there’s relief and celebration. Sit on the patio under the string lights if the temperature is right or ask for a table near the fireplace in the back room.

Pop the Prosecco (tip: bring a small container of frozen Aperol “ice” cubes to pour your bubbly over and you’ve got an easy cocktail to begin your meal) and order the Roasted Beet Salad to start. It’s deconstructed and served on a long platter, and the Prima Dolce ricotta is not to be missed. Follow with The Baked Oysters Spence; with four oysters on the plate, you can split it evenly, and whether oysters are an aphrodisiac or not, it tracks on the theme. Next, order the Spring Lamb Ravioli with either the Lump Crab Cakes or the Braised Short Ribs; both of those orders come with two portions, so are simple to share, and they’ll do it for you in the back if you request it. The ravioli is a can’t-miss: large, eggy yellow, and stuffed with cheese and tender roasted lamb. They’re served with roasted artichokes to lend acidity, house-roasted peppers for a hint of smoke, and a buttery, velvety pesto that isn’t overpowering, just complementary. On top, you’ll find a generous portion of roasted lamb, which makes this dish heartier than a typical pasta order. If you have any room left, share the Creme Brûlée for a nod to French

romance and because cracking the top is fun. Gina told me that a lot of anniversaries are celebrated at Spence (and the reviews on Open Table confirmed it), and if you follow the tips outlined here, I think you’ll leave hand in hand, with all the feels. Lastly, the Saturday night date. I’m going to set this one up as a double date for you because at Spence the four top is the most common table for Saturdays. I like eating out with other couples partly for the joy of their company but mostly so I can convince them to order my second and third choices and then taste their food. Definitely come with a fun cocktail to share, and Gina will supply any mixers or glasses you need. When you make your reservation, ask to sit near one of the front windows; part of going out to

Spring Lamb Ravioli stuffed with cheese and roasted lamb and served with roasted artichokes, house-roasted peppers pesto, then topped with roasted lamb eat on a Saturday night is to see and be seen, and these tables give you the best view of the action on High Street. Start with two orders of the Tuna Tartare. Yes, I said two, and it will still be hard to share. The dish is served as a stack, with tender chunks of tuna that are fresh as can be, not even a hint of “fishy.” It’s topped with avocado, pickled cabbage, seaweed salad, and Sriracha aioli and finished with micro greens. I’d





happily eat it with a fork, but it’s served with crispy fried wontons that have been drizzled with a sweet soy sauce that even further balances the dish. When you eat these appetizers make sure you’re discussing something basic with your tablemates, because your ability to form intelligent speech will be greatly hindered.

Chef Andrew grew up here and has poured his heart and soul into this establishment for well over 20 years

For your entrees, go with the specials. Chef Andrew works with Gadaletto’s Seafood each day to procure the freshest fish possible and flexes his creativity in its preparation. If the special seafood doesn’t excite you, try the Seared Halibut—another favorite of regulars and a staple menu item—or the Lobster Fettuccine. For the latter, Chef serves

the fat strands of pasta with a velouté sauce, like the consistency of lobster bisque. The sauce delicately coats each strand and the Chef is heavy-handed with a portion of tender lobster meat in every dish. For dessert, if there’s room left, double down on the pie. Key Lime Pie and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie will end the night on a sweet note, and with every dessert made in-house, you can’t go wrong with either one. No matter your occasion, a date night at The Original Spence Cafe can’t be missed. I hope you’ll make your reservation soon, and this is why: you can’t really get more “West Chester” than Spence. Chef Andrew grew up here and has poured his heart and soul into this establishment for well over 20 years (seven in this location). He uses local suppliers whenever possible, and happily provides the staple dishes to his regulars (if he took the crab cakes or short rib off the menu, he’d have a mutiny on

Tuna Tartare topped with avocado, pickled cabbage, seaweed salad, and Sriracha aioli and finished with micro greens. his hands) while showcasing his creativity each night with a host of specials. Don’t miss the unique art adorning the walls; local artist and teacher Dennis Hagarty mailed letters to borough dwellers with envelopes uniquely painted or drawn for the intended receiver. Andrew has collected them over the years, along with Historical Society photographs of his original building. With the softly lit, historical ambiance and a roaring fire in the corner, the mood is already set—just book your night. Last thing, if I didn’t say it emphatically enough earlier: order the Tuna Tartare. photos & story BECCA BOYD @homebeccanomics





If you can spot the five differences in these two photographs at Highland Orchards, email your answers to contests@thewcpress.com, and you’ve got a chance to win a Saloon 151 gift certificate.







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