The Philly Mag 50: Restaurants 1 to 20

19. Melograno
19. Melograno
In the flood of Center City Italian BYOBs, itís hard for one to set itself apart. But Melograno does, eschewing the red-gravy standards for authentic Roman and Tuscan flavors, courtesy of chef Gianluca Demontis. Decor is minimal, with the room dominated by an open kitchen and large windows. Those hard surfaces make the noise from the tightly packed crowd fairly oppressive, but itís a happy din, as diners dig into dishes like bisteca alla fiorentina, and pappardelle with mushrooms, truffles and walnuts. In a city awash with noodles, the pappardelle is stand-out, the firm texture of the wide pasta the perfect conduit for the earthy flavors. There are, of course, routinely long waits on weekends, and weekdays arenít much better. But Demontisís wife, Rosemarie Tran, handles the masses admirably, taking cell-phone numbers and sending customers off for a drink at a nearby bar while they wait. A reservation system for the weekends would be a relief, and the smallish menu, usually expanded by a special or two, could use an update ó as long as they donít mess with the pappardelle.

Pictured: Roasted beet and marscarpone ravioli

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