Bring-your-own restaurant guide

Natalie Smith

Allow me to preface this article by mentioning Fellini Café Trattoria, endearingly referred to as Fellini’s by most Villanova students.

Sadly, this Italian restaurant has fallen off my list of preferred BYOB restaurants.

I will concede it has an option for outdoor dining, which is enjoyable on a hot summer evening.

But throughout a series of recent visits to Fellini’s I have been consistently displeased with both the food and the service.

I remember one Friday evening in particular.

My meal was decent; I always order the vodka cream sauce over some form of pasta.

But one of my friends ordered gnocchi, which was soggy and flavorless even though it was drowning in sauce, and another friend ordered the Puttanesca, which was dry and salty.

The three of us collectively ate my meal and ordered mussels to compensate for the large ratio of people to desirable food, taking their meals to go.

Of course, the mussels were another mistake. They were days beyond fresh, to the point that no one would venture to dunk bread in the sauce.

So we resorted to wine, not only to forget our hunger but also to kill anything we may have ingested before politely setting the mussels aside.

One waiter had barely opened a new bottle for us when another thrust the check into our hands, and we were told-rather than asked-to leave.

“It’s not rude,” the waiter insisted. “It’s a large party waiting.”

And indeed there was. Twenty people had already been ushered into the crowded space, and some had been seated at the long table behind ours.

We had been effectively evicted, even though we had been seated for less than an hour.

We paid and left post-haste. As an apology, the manager offered us a bag of Fellini-made Cannoli.

Scared by our pasta and mussels, we left them untouched.

There is, unbeknownst to most Villanova students, another BYOB restaurant in the surrounding area serving Italian food: La Fontana Della Citta.

It is located a little further away, in Philadelphia, but offers outdoor seating right off of Rittenhouse Square.

La Fontana Della Citta is located on 1701 Spruce Street and is, in my mind, worth the drive.

It is perfect for a date or a large party of diners looking to extend an evening meal into a fun night-out in the city.

Also found on the Main Line and extremely close to Villanova is Sushiland, which is a BYOB sushi restaurant.

As far as BYOBs go it is decent. But for fresh sushi I would recommend Mikado (located in Ardmore), or Fuji Mountain (on the same block as Sushiland) any day.

Sushiland pulls in a steady stream of clientele, thanks to a combination of low prices and simple convenience. It even takes WildCard.

If one is in search of a Sushi/BYOB combination, I would recommend Blue Fin over Sushiland.

Like La Fontana Della Citta, it is located a little further away, in Plymouth Meeting, but Blue Fin receives rave reviews on a regular basis and is never empty.

The fish is fresh, and they offer a wide variety of more traditional rolls.

Advance reservations are required, as well as a designated driver, but the food is superior and worth visiting even without the BYOB element.

Since I have knocked Fellini’s and Sushiland off my BYOB list and replaced them with less convenient options, allow me to recommend another BYOB restaurant, which is still located on the Main Line.

Kotatsu is a BYOB hibachi restaurant on 34 Greenfield Ave, which serves high-quality food in a wildly entertaining display of knives and flames.

It is perfect for large parties of people.

Patrons are seated around large, square tables surrounding the traditional Japanese hibachi-which literally translates to mean “fire bowl”- where their food is cooked in front of them.

Shrimp, steak and chicken can be ordered on the grill, and all are delicious.

The filet mignon is my favorite, and the generous heaping of fried rice and steamed vegetables that follows rounds off the meal perfectly.

I openly recommend Kotatsu as a desirable BYOB restaurant that will not fail to please.