19 E. Lancaster Ave.
Paoli, PA 19301
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 sauce… $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.
#of times we’ve eaten there: 1
Reservations: Yes, although be prepared to wait