It wasn’t so long ago that folks who chose to live in or near Conshohocken had to trek into Center City via the Schuylkill to get anything resembling a great meal—especially since the once-wonderful Spring Mill Café began its slip into depressing mediocrity. It was a Morton’s fork: Make dinner into a miserable commute, or suffer through yet another plate of gooey spaghetti and meatballs from the nose-picking automotive-repair-school dropouts working the pasta trench at whatever local “ristorante” was closest to home.
That’s not the case today.
Chip Roman’s BYO Blackfish is the most ballyhooed example of Conshohocken’s reemergence, with an appropriately long Saturday-night waiting list. Five years ago, publicly predicting that a Le Bec-trained chef would plant roots here and conjure up truffle dinners for crowds eager to throw sacks of money at him would’ve gotten a food writer slapped. But now, that’s the reality, and all it took was one guy to prove it could be done for everyone else to think about giving it a go.
Which is why, today, we have the year-old Isabella, which puts up solid pizzas in the Stella vein and has a bar that can be three-deep on busy nights. And Savona, just a few miles outside of town in Gulph Mills, offers one of the most beautiful and well-serviced dining rooms in the area.
Need proof that the tastes of Conshy are changing? The Isabella crew recently redid the old 401 Diner, keeping the name but ditching the greasy-spoon concept in favor of more healthful diner fare. In Conshohocken. And the locals haven’t yet stormed the place with torches and pitchforks. The future of Conshohocken restaurants: If you’ve got money, buy real estate, brother. With the numbers that Blackfish puts up and the back-to-back successes of Isabella and 401, it’s only a matter of time before Philly’s other big names start looking at expanding their reach into the ’burbs.