Suburban restaurants are often doomed by the difficulties they have to overcome: lack of foot traffic, low customer counts, competition with the big-box chains that spring up on every major corner. But the one thing they have going for them? Their neighbors. Because when a great restaurant comes to a place previously served only by the mediocre and the lame, it can become the center of a community the way no urban restaurant ever can. Forno Antico is one of those places — a sprawling BYO that opened in a terrible location behind a jewelry store a few months back, but that’s been working hard to win over every single customer who comes through the doors. The pizzas come out of a traditional Neapolitan oven brought over from Italy (the name means “antique oven”), the alfredo tastes nothing like what you’ll get at the Olive Garden (meaning it’s wonderful and rich and buttery and creamy in the way that only a scratch-made sauce is), and the meatballs are huge, perfectly textured and delicious, even when, like me, you just ask for two orders to go so you can eat one in the parking lot before driving home.
Forno Antico [Foobooz]
Originally published in the September 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine
It seems Wynnewood and Conshohocken aren’t the only areas in Montgomery County aiming to reel in those looking for smaller housing. According to recent data by the Norristown Planning commission, Montgomery County housing units went up by 42 percent last year compared to 2012– the largest chunk of that increase being multifamily housing.
Philly.com’s Jessica Sparks reports the amount of single-family homes grew by 19 percent, while single-family attached homes (i.e. duplexes or row houses) rose by 12 percent. The biggest increase was seen in apartment and condo constructions, which tripled in 2013.
Sparks says the Planning Commission’s report, which displayed constructions mainly occurring in Towamencin, Upper Providence, and Montgomery Township among others, found the housing units “added $252 million in taxable property value to the county.”
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Last week Jon Taffer broke Lickety Split into two concepts for his “Bar Rescue” show. Downstairs is now Alleged Pizza and upstairs is 2nd State Lounge. Last night Taffer and company revealed the remade Plush on Keswick Avenue in Glenside. That spot is now an Italian themed bar and cafe, Osteria Calabria.
A post on Plush’s Facebook page sums up the changes:
As the big reveal of our new bar approaches, I want to take the time to thank Jon Taffer and the entire Bar Rescue crew for this incredible opportunity. Aside from providing us with a new concept and look, they have touched us in the most profound way.I cannot begin to express my gratitude. I would also like to thank all of our loyal customers for nearly 12 years of support. Plush was a dream come true for us and could not have been possible without you. We look forward to another 12 years and truly hope the we can surpass all of your expectations. We launch our new bar Sunday night. Do stop by to see the amazing transformation of the bar. Menu provided by chef Nick Liberato. A true culinary professional. Drinks provided by Mia Mastroianni, mixologist extraordinare. Onward and upward. Hope to see a lot of faces, new and old….From the bottom of my heart, Thank you.
The new season of Bar Rescue begins October 5th. Look for the Philadelphia locations to be featured in late November.
More on “Bar Rescue” in Philadelphia.
Osteria Calabria [Foobooz]
630 Washington Ln, Jenkintown, PA, 19046
Jenkintown may have only been incorporated in the last two centuries, but the Montgomery County borough was actually settled in 1697 by Welshman William Jenkins. One of Jenkins’ descendants, Stephen Jenkins, built this three-story home (called “Vernon”) in the area over a hundred years later, and it is believed to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Here’s what you should know about Vernon: It’s a colonial that sits far back from the road on 2.6 acres of land and has two separate driveways leading up to it. Hardwood floors and custom millwork are home highlights, but a vaulted-ceiling family room with exposed wood, wrought-iron beams, and stone accent walls merits a mention as well (a hidden wet bar is located here).
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1321 Pinebrook Ct, Ambler, PA, 19002
Located in the vicinity of private schools within the Hatboro-Horsham School District, this home boasts around $250,000 worth of upgrades and a 1-year home warranty is included in its purchase.
Stand-out features include a waterfall pool with an elevated 10-person hot tub (accessed via breakfast area French doors), farm sink kitchen with hardwood floors and stainless appliances, and a two-story family room with exposed beams. There’s also a first-floor office with dual-station built-in desks and a 700-square-foot finished basement. Parking includes a 3-car garage with mud room access.
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Jose and Jennifer Vargas of Leila’s Bistro in Jenkintown created a sophisticated yet comfortable sequel when they opened Forcella, serving authentic Italian cuisine, in downtown Jenkintown earlier this year. Recently, the BYOB has made some changes with chef Anthony Pasceri taking over the kitchen and adding a new seasonal menu.
Pasceri, formerly of Modo Mio and Popolino, has been on the Philadelphia restaurant scene for over 10 years. At his new home in Jenkintown, he will be serving house-made classic Italian pastas, breads, desserts and more.
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A neighbor of mine is sending her son to a well-respected New England liberal arts college. A friend of one of my kids is starting her college career at a West Philadelphia Ivy League institution. Another friend is attending an excellent state school in Michigan. My kids, as I wrote in this month’s Philadelphia magazine, are each attending good schools in the mid-Atlantic area.
As parents, we are all forking over anywhere from $30 to $60K per year, per kid in tuition, room and board.
Are we paying too much? Yes.
Is it the fault of our higher education system? Mismanagement? Gouging? Yes.
But let’s not entirely blame these colleges. As parents, we share some of this blame. We could be paying a lot less in tuition and getting the same result. But we don’t. Why?
We’re afraid of what others may think. Our egos sometimes get in the way.
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Modern office spaces continue to pop up here and there throughout the city, enticing young professionals who favor shared, open areas at work. However, as Jon Hurdle observes in a New York Times article this morning, Philadelphia isn’t the only place trying to lure in millennials with quotidian urban-living attractions.
Developers in Conshohocken are having a go at it too.
Proving to be prime real estate for developers who see it as having all the right elements for bringing in residents/workers in the 20-to-30-something age range, Conshohocken’s “office hub” reputation appears to be sealed as they seek to develop more of the area. Case in point, a list of new projects, three of which would be on the riverfront:
Four buildings totaling 1.25 million square feet are proposed, in what would be the first big additions to the town’s commercial real estate since the recession.
They are 400 West Elm, a 340,000-square-foot, 10-story structure on a wooded site; Seven Tower Bridge, covering 260,000 square feet on 10 floors; Millennium Four, a 300,000-square-foot project; and One Conshohocken, covering 350,000 square feet. The first three would be built on riverside sites.
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Craig LaBan ventures to Ambler for the promise of barbecue and whiskey at the Lucky Well. What he finds is uneven at best. Chef/owner Chad Rosenthal has trouble with consistency.
I don’t doubt Rosenthal’s passion for BBQ. I could taste those good intentions on the St. Louis pork ribs, the bones dusted Memphis-style with spice, the pink-haloed meat clinging just right. The Lucky Well’s chicken wings also wore their smoke well enough. But I should have stopped there.
Food Network notoriety is no guarantee of culinary genius, a fact made abundantly clear by two meals in which virtually everything else fell flat.
One Bell – Hit-or-Miss
Dining Review: The Lucky Well [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Lucky Well [Official]
Australian black truffles.
Need we say more?
Tuesday, August 26th, Blackfish invites you to their Australian Black Truffle Dinner. The tasting menu is comprised of four dishes featuring the prized ingredient. Guests will start with duck and truffle rillettes, followed by truffle dumpling, albacore and truffle ballontine and finish with beef and truffle parfait.
The dinner, curated by chef and owner Chip Roman with the help of chef de cuisine, Yianni Arhontoulis is $65 per person.
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