Eating good in the neighborhood

Megan Donoghue

Have you ever visited the Mediterranean Coast? Relaxed in a charming restaurant that serves spaghetti bolognese so authentic it makes those ladies on the Ragu commercial want to cry? Although a trip to Italy would indeed be wonderful, a quick fix for busy Villanova students on a budget is just a drive (or three stops on the R5) away. Fellini Café, a relatively new player on the BYOB scene, is also a proud winner of Main Line Life’s Reader’s Choice Award for both best desserts and Italian dining in the area. It is located at 31 East Lancaster Ave. in Ardmore and is co-owned by Pino D’Alto and Francesco Raimondo. Masters of the art of service, they consistently provide patrons with authentic Italian dishes – minus the Ragu ladies and their promise of a half pound of meat in their jarred sauce which (supposedly) is “Just like Mamma used to make!”

As for the name, D’Alto claims that his restaurant has no connection to the famed box office. Co-owner D’Alto simply likes the sound of it. One thing that is for sure however, is the popularity of his café. Fellini has recently expanded, transforming the neighboring nail salon into a gorgeous new room reminiscent of Rome. With hand-painted murals, newly tiled floors and subtle strings of white lights cascading around vines that look real enough to pick a grape from, the atmosphere makes you swear you’re in Salerno.

Although you will unfortunately remain in Ardmore, the fare is far from a cheesesteak. Each appetizer rivals the size of most standard entrees, ranging from a deliciously crispy bruschetta ($4.25) to an order of calamari fritti, served with a perfectly complementary, spicy marinara sauce ($6.25). The salads are equally as exquisite – the Caesar, although delicious, is certainly one of the more boring contenders on the list! With close to 40 different pastas, the majority of which cost less than $10, the hits just keep on coming.

From a more conservative spaghetti al pomodoro to a more adventurous Raviolo quattro formaggi, one begins to wonder whether the Weight Watchers Рstrategically located a few doors down from Fellini Caf̩ on Lancaster Avenue Рmakes restaurant rescues.

For those that do not wish to be rescued, also appearing on the menu is an equally tempting assortment of chicken, veal, fish, eggplant and steak. Should you decide to visit for lunch or simply find yourself craving a panini or twelve inch personal pizza, the inventive list that Fellini has to offer will not let you down.

Finally, if your sweet tooth kicks in, perhaps as a result of the multiple glasses of merlot or pinot you enjoyed while dining, why not take the Main Line Life readers’ word and test an award-winning dessert? While at Fellini, allow yourself to be transformed into true vacation mode. However, if you can’t make the trip, rest assured. Any dish served at Fellini Café is also available for take-out – your own personal piece of the Mediterranean Coast wrapped up to go. Fellini Café, located at 31 East Lancaster Ave. in Ardmore is open for lunch and dinner, all week, from 2 to 10 p.m. Reservations are accepted; call (610) 642-9009.