Fellini Cafe, Paoli

August 26th, 2006

19 E. Lancaster Ave.
Paoli, PA 19301
610.644.6767

NOTE: The Paoli location has closed. There are several other Fellini Cafes in the area, though not all are the same ownership group.

Rating: 2 spoons out of 5

Overview: A micro-chain also located in Berwyn and Ardmore, Fellini is a wildly popular Italian BYOB. The buzz about Fellini in the general population is great, and the wait on a weekend night would seem to confirm this fact. Those who truly appreciate fine food, however, will quickly understand that Fellini’s success comes from offering a wide variety and huge portions (creating the semblance of value), not necessarily from putting excellent food on the table.

Food: The vast menu offers 119 different Italian dishes, 50 of which are pasta and 20 of which are pizza. Unfortunately, the best dishes on Fellini’s menu also tend to be the most unhealthy; cream sauces, cheese and butter abound. The portions are HUGE (almost every table takes home a doggy bag), meaning that not only is the food unhealthy, but most diners will eat far more than normal.

There are, of course, some lighter options, but from experience these are pretty uninteresting. At a recent visit, I tried the Penne dello Chef (Sausage, broccoli & sundried tomatoes in an olive oil garlic sauceā€¦ $11.95), but it was on of the blandest pasta dishes I’ve ever had (except for the sausage which was excellent). On the otherhand, the potato gnocchi in a creamy pesto sauce was absolutely delicious, but it left us with lead stomachs.

There are daily fish specials, a couple salmon dishes on the regular menu and plenty of salads, and while it would take years to try everything here, after one visit I feel confident saying that the fat-laden dishes are where the flavor is at, creating a difficult dilemma for any Fellini diner concerned with their health.

Ambiance: Over the top tuscan decor, but kitchy and casual.

Service: A lot of young kids serving tables here, but our waiter was well-trained and earnest, appropriate for this type of establishment.

Value: Many Americans equate value with the amount of food served — from this standpoint, Fellini is an astonishing value — two people can stuff themselves for less than $30. On the other hand, those of us who put more emphasis on the quality of food will find Fellini’s cost to be about appropriate for what it is — a cheap, casual meal.

Details:

#of times we’ve eaten there: 1
Reservations: Yes, although be prepared to wait
Bar: BYOB
Cards: Yes
Takeout: Yes
Site: http://fellini-cafe.com

47 Responses to “Fellini Cafe, Paoli”

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  1. Beatrice says:

    Just a quick warning to avoid the Newtown Square location as well. Reservations are a joke. Customer service is a joke too. The host / owner / front man is smug and arrogant. Two of our 4 person party were 5 minutes late -not exaggerating, 5 minutes) and he told us because we “were late too, we’d have to work with him re: getting our table” We worked with him by letting some other sucker take our place. We went about 1 mile east to Valentino’s, had a delicious meal; a table that could hold more than 2 plates & that was feet away from the neighboring table, not inches; paid the same; and didn’t get any ‘we’re doing you a favor’ attitude that seems pervasive at many of the Fellinis. Re: the menu – do fewer things but do them well, would be my suggestion.

  2. Karen says:

    Horrible experience, uncomfortable seating, BAD attitude from staff, we should have left when request to move to a more comfortable table was denied. Food is below average at best, southern Italian gravy joint. Too long wait time, not busy early evening. I don’t know how they can stay in business, need in depth customer service training. There is never an excuse for such poor behavior and miserable attitude. Do yourself a favor and avoid this place. I hope it goes out of business and a more people friendly establishment takes over. Alfredo’s is far superior on every level-food, ambiance and engaging staff. I will continue to patronize restaurants that serve a good product and make you feel welcomed rather than greet you with hostility!!

    • Karen says:

      My above comments are regarding the Fellini restaurant in Berwyn as the Paoli locale is long gone and has been replaced by Grappa. We actually enjoyed the Paoli location when it first opened but, declined over time.

  3. Dana Brandol says:

    Worst Experience Ever! Won’t go back

    Where can I start… after patiently waiting for 30 minutes (with a reservation), we were seated in a loud, cramped table. The service was slow and it took our waiter 15 min. to get to us after we were seated. When our entrees arrived the waiter slammed them down on the table and walked away. The food was nothing special and it was so loud I could barely hear my husband. Rude, packed, standard food, and lousy service. I am in no rush to go back.

  4. Matt says:

    Avoid Felini in Berwyn. Previous review is accurate. After a wonderful meal at the far superior italian restaurant next door, our night was ruined after learning our car was towed by the spiteful owner of Felini. I have unfortunatly eaten here before so can also add that the service is dreadful and rude, the noise is intolerable and the food is below average. You will have a much better dining experience next door.

  5. Nancy R says:

    Stay away / be warned . . . this establishment is threatened by a new, local establishment and is scouting their nearly empty parking lot to tow unknowing customers (a very small sign on side wall) that attempt to try the new, customer-friendly local Italian hot spot right next store.

    Unaware guests will be charged $200 and a trip to Manayunk to pick up your car.

    First experience ever with vendor envy in the burbs, crazy stuff!

  6. Maureen Irwin says:

    Fellini’s Cafe in Berwyn has seen the last of me. I was in there Thursday night, March 31, 2011, and witnessed a waitress (probably one of Frankie’s daughters) verbally abuse six grey haired ladies because they kept asking when there food would arrive. Mind you, they arrived at 6:00, when we did, and we were finished with our appetizer and in the middle of our dinner, by the time they got served at 7:20 p.m. I mean, she was screaming at them, across the dining room. I never saw anything like that in my life. I spoke with one of the women as she was leaving and apparently the waitress was upset because they had asked for a different table, not one near the door, where it is drafty and, when crowded, people are standing waiting for a table. She then went on to tell me that when they left only a 10% tip, which they really didn’t want to do, the waitress came back with the bill and told them it was not enough money and she indicated it was restaurant policy that you have to leave a 18 to 20% tip on parties of 6 or more. So she “extorted” another $12 out of them. I don’t imagine they’ll be back either. Frankie did nothing to help. Even when she screamed across the room, “Frankie, come talk to these ladies.” The pasta is good at Frankie’s, but the specials and other dishes have always been marginal. We have traded quality for convenience. Not any more. Beware.

  7. Lee huzzard says:

    well had reservations tonight new years eve 2010, they even called me to confirm i was coming, party of two at 6:30 arrived early as i live just across rt.30 I was advised they do not take parties of two as it was new years eve. i said well you called me today to confirm. sorry frankie said, you can sit at the counter. now why would i want to sit at a counter that cant serve drinks, on a date night and new years eve. i picked up the resv. list from the counter and guess their was my name Lee party of two. the place was getting filled. I said to frankie and the hostess. I dont take up anymore space than a table for two, whats the problem. was told you can have the counter. I could get a counter at a hotdog stand. keeping in mind just a week ago three friends of mine took me out to dinner, paid a big check, and a big tip had a great meal. now newyears eve. i cant have a nice meal because no excuses no sorry nothing, just arrogance.not only that there were people at a table for two, and were just leaving i think they just wanted to serve big parties, and not to bother with two only customers.
    we are both senior citizens, veterans, and lived in the berwyn area for a long time. I will not go back to such a place that has so so food, bread is good, but man does not live by bread alone. to be embarassed and patronized. to bad for them

  8. Kvander says:

    Looks like the former Fellini cafe will be another BYOB.
    Grappa Cafe….coming soon.
    Anyone know the scoop?? (owner, pricing,opening date, etc.?)

  9. Charles says:

    This is comparable to La Fontana Della Citta at 17th & Spruce Streets, Center City. Acceptable food, good service, somewhat crowded, overall good value, definite repeat.

  10. thedogatemyhomework says:

    Frankie’s Fellini’s in Berwyn. That’s the one we love..much more than San Nicola next door (which has lost its lease anyway). Frankie is always there, seating and greeting and his extended family is on the wait staff. I always order the “Sunday Sauce”: red gravy with a meatball, pork and sausage which has been simmering for hours. As the other poster said, the BYOB really keeps the tab reasonable. Love the bread that comes in from NYC every morning.

    • Jack says:

      Thanks, “Homework” for making me go to the Berwyn website. Turns out Frankie in Berwyn is the same Frankie who had Frankie’s Seafood Italiano in South Philly in the mid 80s. Was my fave South Philly place many years ago.

      Went there tonight, had linguini and clams and maybe best ever.

      Folks, Highly recommended. BYOB.

      Not affiliated with the other Fellini’s

  11. Jim Marotta says:

    Frankie’s Felini Cafe (Berwyn) has always blown away the other Felini locations and for that matter all other competition in the area. He has recently opened up a new location in Drexel Hill on Township Line Rd in the former Yummy Bakery location. This new location has a bakery and serves Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner.

  12. Dave says:

    Driving by Fellini this weekend and noted that it was closed… just for the weekend or permanently???

    • Kander says:

      We ate there a week ago Saturday. We were informed that they were closing that Monday…..for good. Lack of business.
      I have noticed a huge drop in business (and quality) over the last several months.
      Too bad. IT really was a fun, local place that was casual enough, but still a nice night out.
      I hope someone here will get the gossip on who bought the business. I hope it’s another restaurant.

      • Marie says:

        Great News…Paoli location has been purchased for a restaurant. Can’t wait for it to open!

      • Kvander says:

        Marie – What have you heard???? Any ideas on the type of restaurant?? Ownership??? Opening dates??????? Very interesting!

  13. Sue Shawline says:

    Well, four of us went to dinner last night and it was a nightmare!! And we are all waitresses – so we know how it can be “sometimes.” We asked for fried calamari – they brought out grilled – insisted it was fried. Then they said “we don’t have battered calamari.” Took it back. My entree had to be made 4 times!! Tortellini with cream, ham, peas, mozzarella baked in oven. First came out with BACON!!! They said this is how they make the dish – menu states ham not bacon – they had to re-make – after 10 minutes – comes back with no mozzarella cheese and not baked – said they don’t make it like that – pulled out menu and showed them this is what it says!! – Then when everyone was done their meal – they brought mine back – now it looked right – everyone took a forkful (bravely I may add) and it now had ONIONS!!! in it!! that was the final straw – we could not believe it. Sent it back – did not want ANYTHING else!! The rude manager woman told us she never had such “problems” with customers – I am sure that’s why the place was EMPTY!!! The grand finale was when the bill came they had charged us for both appetizer AND entree!! My friend had had enough and got up to tell her how we should not be charged – and she actually argued with her – till the owner saw what was going on – dismissed the manager and removed both items from the bill. Its unfortunate – it USED to be very good – the other people in the party were very disappointed as well – they had no clams!! Their dishes were not as explained also – overall – GROSS meal will NEVER be back.!!

  14. Fjordstone says:

    I think the Fellini locations are basically franchises. Having eaten in three of them (Paoli, Berwyn, and Newtown Square), I can say that I think they’re all fine, but that the Berwyn location stands a few notches above the others. I’m a Brooklyn-born, New York raised girl, spent many a well-fed time at the San Gennaro festival in Italy, grew up in a town where fully 50% of the people were New York-raised Italians, and I think the food at the Fellinis ranges from good to excellent. You really have to choose carefully from the menu, but that’s true at nearly any restaurant.

    I agree with the poster who said that the bread is _definitely_ better in Berwyn, as well as the poster who said that Berwyn’s ambience is a little more civilized than the other locations (“a well-run bistro” was the comment, I believe).

    They’re all crowded and tables are VERY small, so don’t take anyone overly large, overly tall, or claustrophobic into these places.

    Paoli often gives you some kind of complimentary alcohol with your meal, and has a few dishes that are missing from the Berwyn menu, but still and all, we generally leave the Berwyn location more satisfied than we do the Paoli location. The freshly-filled cannoli at the Berwyn location are not to be missed — they are very reminiscent of La Bella Ferrara in New York’s Little Italy in its heyday.

    Berwyn has that family-run feel, and is very friendly. You almost don’t mind being elbow-to-elbow with strangers, due to the tightly-packed tables.

    One big negative for Paoli is their lunch buffet. Completely pedestrian and average. (If you want a great, Italian lunch buffet, Limoncello in West Chester is terrific.)

    Something to remember with all Fellini’s is that on most nights of the week, you should plan to wait, so don’t come starving!

  15. Jeff says:

    I have frequented Fellini in Paoli for upwards of four years now and I can honestly say I have never been anything but happy with my food there. Sometimes the wait is annoying and it can be loud and cramped, but if the place was terrible, then it wouldn’t be crowded, now would it? I love the fact that it’s a BYO and we can bring a nice complimenting bottle with us and still get out with a bill under $40. Their homemade pasta is excellent, as are their pizzas. I have lived in Italy and the food here is not a far cry off. Compared to the nearly double-the-price Verona a bit down the street, there is no contest – Fellini wins. On a side note, add me to the people in constand wonder as to the ownership of the several Fellini’s. They seem connected yet so separate.

  16. Matt says:

    Interestingly the one in downingtown, which wasn’t open very long, has closed down and that place was slammed the two times I was there.

    Curious as to the ownership of these places. I’m not personally a huge fan of Itallian when I go out to eat, so I am probably not the best to comment, but I can say I have not been very impressed the handful of times I have been to Paoli and the now defunct D-Town location.

  17. Shawn says:

    Fellini’s Cafe in Berwyn is a ripoff! I went with my wife and 3 daughters ages 11, 9 and 6. Two servings of pasta with meat sauce, 2 servings of ravioli and a caesar salad (no drinks, not really offered any) and it was $75!!!! The pasta dishes were $12.95, portion was okay, there was bread for the table but no dinner salad or anything. Then the server (if you could call her that) put the gratuity on the bill herself for more than 20%! They got my money once but never again! Anthony’s in Malvern is 10 times better (food, service, everything) and the prices are much more reasonable!

  18. Alex from Bryn Mawr says:

    went for dinner last night w/another couple who had been here before and really liked it (Berwyn location). it’s not a fancy place AT ALL but is a little cuter inside than the strip mall exterior would have you think. well, first thing, my chair is rocking when I sit down & feels like it’s going to fall to pieces underneath me. the waitress sees me switching it & came over and grabbed the chair and touched it and basically said there was nothing wrong w/it, implying that it’s all me. Then I go to order & ask her about the size of the salads. She said they were pretty small, so I decide to order a salad PLUS an appetizer portion of the calamari. She acts like this is the first time she has ever encountered anyone ordering like this &says Oh we can’t serve that as an entree. I thought she was going to refuse to serve me! Well, the beet salad was yummy and the calamari was tender, and the sauce tasty and well-seasoned (fra diavalo). But, as she is bringing the salad, a dinner companion says to me That salad isnt so small… And I agree that it looks good. The waitress says something cranky and rude about how she thinks it’s small and then adds Well, I guess you’re just not Italian. (I am Italian actually.) So the food was pretty good for a little casual place like this, but I don’t think I’d suffer this rude waitress again.

  19. Jim Rudman says:

    Berwyn! Berwyn! Berwyn! Berwyn!Berwyn! Berwyn! Berwyn!

    Frank and his partner own the Berwyn Fellini’s, which is no longer affiliated with the others. Their food is really fantastic!

    It can get very crowded, so be in the mood to sit real close to the other tables, but that can be fun with the right crowd!

  20. Charlie says:

    I have never been disappointed with Fellini’s in my 4 visits. While the place is a little crowded, the wait staff seems to make it work. A complimentary Sambuca after the meal was a nice touch.

  21. Ed Kessler says:

    Dee Says: Has Fellini’s in Paoli gone down hill in the past year or so or was it never that good? Has anyone who has eaten there say a few times in 06 and also in 07 seen any change? I have not eaten there in over a year but did eat there three time in 2006 and found the food fine. In fact, back then I found it similar to the food at Fellini’s in Berwyn.
    From your comments about Paoli I am not sure I want to “Take One For The Team” and try it again.
    I recently had a very good meal at Frankie’s Fellini Cafe in Berwyn. The printed menu did seem identical to the one in Paoli. However, were some noteworthy differences that were not part of the menu. The bread was better in Berwyn but no free Bruschetta as was true in Paoli. I thought it was an OK tradeoff. Really great bread from Brooklyn.
    The style of service was quite different. Berwyn reminded me of a very well run, modern bistro (great service), whereas Paoli is sort of like South Phila. circa 1965.(not such a bad thing) The last time I ate in Berwyn (weekday Jan. 2008) there were lots of 2 to 10 year olds which the staff handled very well. Can’t remember meny kids in Paoli. If you have kids head for Berwyn — beats Happy Meals everyday.
    One gripe I have against both locations is that their “Specials” are priced about $8 to $10 above their average menu item which they don’t tell you unless you ask. Last time I ate in Berwyn the cost for a meal for two which included one soup, two seafood specials, two desserts and two coffees –tip- and tax was $97.00. There are some wonderful items on the printed menu between $10 and $17 and you don’t have to get dessert. You should have no problem bringing in a tab of $60 for two.
    So unless I hear otherwise, I guess I will stick with Fellini’s in Berwyn.
    By the way, the reason I stopped eating at Fellini’s in Paoli after 2006 is that I prefer Dolce Vita in Bridgeport. BYOB, lot’s of space between tables, outdoor dining and usually able to get in without reservations.

  22. Dee says:

    Finally ate at Paoli last Friday and if that food compares to San Nicola and places in Italy than I’m glad I’ve never eaten there. The food was god awful, we had the calamari (my husband can make it much better), the vodka w/ penne and the canneloni’s.
    Just awful and will not return.

  23. Ed Kessler says:

    Does anyone out there know for sure who ownes which Fellini’s? How are they connected, if at all? There seem to be at least four. I think the one in town closed. It’s like Ray’s Pizza in NY; maybe worse.

  24. nan says:

    fellini berwyn should not be confused with fellini ardmore – fellini berwyn bought his soul back from the theif of ardmore.

    fellini ARDMORE should be closed down – it is a loud BYOB where they play games with sharing plates, varied interpretation of what you get vs.what you order, lack of control over the BYOB drunks who feel free to curse in the dining rooms. the place is dirty, they make you stand outside like it’s a chic nightclub, only when you get inside you wonder why all those tables are empty? the owner is slippery and well, not pleasant – they deserve every negative comment

  25. nan says:

    fellini berwyn should not be confused with fellini ardmore – fellini berwyn bought his soul back from the theif of ardmore.

    fellini ARDMORE should be closed down – it is a loud BYOB where they play games with sharing plates, varied interpretation of what you get vs.what you order, lack of control over the BYOB drunks who feel free to curse in the dining rooms. the place is dirty, they make you stand outside like it’s a chic nightclub, only when you get inside you wonder why all those tables are empty? the owner is slippery and well, not pleasant

  26. Donna says:

    I loved Fellini’s. The food was great and the waiters made us feel like family. The decor reminded me of how my family decorated at Christmas time. It’s not a snooty place. It is very down to earth, good Italian food, and excellent service. I especially enjoyed the espresso & cannoli for desert. I would highly recommend Fellini’s. Don’t listen to the negative comments. Go and see for yourself. You’ll love it!

  27. Jennifer says:

    Amazing food! The caesar salad was out of this world! I am Italian and I felt at home, and the servers don’t just serve yoiu the food, they get to know you, which sometimes is nice! If your a regular, they go out the way to recognize that…anyone who says something bad about that place is stuck up and should stick to morton’s….when you go to Felini’s you shouldn’t expect an atmosphere of Sullivans….it’s defnitely a greta placed to check out…and it is a greatttt experience!

  28. Vito says:

    I am not sure if you know what you are talking about madame, the food at fellini’s is excellent!!! such a quaint little restaurant as well!!!

  29. Veronica says:

    The Fellini’s in Berwyn is completly different they don’t have the same owners or the same food for that matter as Paoli and Ardmore it’s no wonder that the business is up for sale the owner are horrible and should have thought of another proffesion…..

  30. Matt says:

    Just saw online that Fellini’s in Paoli is for sale. Asking price is $375K.

  31. Tom L says:

    Don’t be fooled, Fellini’s is no San Nicola. It’s good food and a decent price but if you like that lunch room atmosphere you will like Fellini’s. If you want better food and a little more atmosphere go to San Nicola.

  32. Ed Kessler says:

    While the food at the Berwyn resturant might be a tad better than Paoli it is smaller and more crowded, if that’s possible. The menu is almost the same.

  33. Salvatore Donovini says:

    Fellini’s offers quality food, large portions, so-so ambience, crowded tables, helpful waiters and malodorous hosts!!!

  34. Susan says:

    Great. Great. Great. Fun and cozy. You won’t leave hungry. I disagree with the negative comments. I’ve been to Italy many times and it is typical trattoria style. You’ve never been to a tacky, loud and gaudy place in Italy. Come on!

  35. Carolynne says:

    I ate at the Fellini in Berwyn last night and it was great. I see these two restaurants as very distinct and believe the one in Berwyn deserves a look.

  36. Bill Schafer says:

    Let’s recognize the Paoli Fellini’s for what it is — a neighborhood trattoria with friendly staff and good food if you know what to order from the menu. The clientele appears to be a cross-section of young couples, groups, families, and retirees. Its appeal for us is that (a) it’s within walking distance of train and home, (b) if you’re a regular, the staff recognizes you and makes you feel at home (for many of them, Italian is their first language with English a distant second), and (c) it’s a good value. Their salads are good — they have a great arugula salad — and we always get the antipasto. Few carbs there; just good meat, cheese and veggies.

  37. Claire B. says:

    It is beyond me how this restaurant has been able to carry on successfully. The decor is completely gaudy and over-the-top, with absolutely nothing appealling, just tacky. The food is anything but traditional and good Italian food – almost always flavorless, heavy and dense, scare originality and even less charm. Every visit to this place has disappointed, the low prices still not making up for what felt like wasted time and money. Utterly disappointing and unimaginative.

  38. John Draper says:

    Having lived in Italy for a few years, I can say Fellini’s dishes and prices favorably impressed me. Fortunately, it’s just a few doors from where I work weekdays. My favorite dish to date is probably the Linguine alla Vongole.

  39. Ed Kessler says:

    We have eaten there four times –no reservations and no lines. In by 6:OO out by 7:15. The food has been wonderful –loved the veal parm. and all the seafood has been first rate. Service very friendly and efficient–I would give it 4.5 stars out of five. On a par with Trattoria San Nicola. Unlike San Nicola it is BYOB. saving you even more.

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