Totaro’s, Conshohocken

March 27th, 2005

729 East Hector St.
Conshohocken, PA
(610) 828-6842

Rating: 5 silver spoons out of 5

Overview: Hidden deep in the neighborhoods of Conshohocken lies the best restaurant in the Suburban Philadelphia Area, Totaro’s. An unassuming local tavern from the outside, Totaro’s is fine dining of staggering quality — and of staggering prices. While not for the faint of wallet, Totaro’s is worthy of the splurge, featuring amazingly creative takes on traditional Italian dishes and a unique variety of game options. It should be noted that we have not eaten at Totaro’s in quite some time, and recent reports from other patrons suggest a downhill trend.

Food: The kitchen specializes in game dishes — expect to see Wild Boar, Venison, Elk, and the like on the specials menu. If you’re not as adventurous, the regular menu features more traditional Veal, Steak and Fish options. (And while I’ve never had the Osso Bucco, it is said to be the house specialty.) Each entree served at Totaro’s is an assault of flavor and complexity. In contrast to the corporate steak house — steak on a plate with a side of potatoes and vegetables for example — the food here shines specifically because of the kitchen’s ability to pair each ingredient in such a way that it is not always possible to decipher what completes each bite. The thing I love most about Totaro’s is when I take a hearty forkful, and although I could never list every ingredient on that fork, it simply tastes phenomenal. On a recent visit, one special was a juniper glazed venison double chop with smashed rutabaga, roasted butternut squash, smoked duck potato hash, sweet slaw all in a reduction sauce. It was sweet, hearty, succulent, and flat out awesome.

Perhaps Totaro’s finest moment comes at dessert, which usually includes a extraordinary brownie which is served warm, covered in oozing molten chocolate, housed inside golden phyllo pastry. Go ahead, read it again. No, it won’t help any dieters out there, but it is sooo worth it.

Ambiance: The best way to describe Totaro’s is that it seems like an old school mob hangout. There is a small, cozy dining room adjacent to a bar with some additional seating areas.

Service: Everyone at Totaro’s is gracious and helpful. On one visit we had to wait a while, even with a reservation, but the staff did their best to keep us happy while we waited.

Value: When you come here, value should be the last thing on your mind. Entrees regularly hover in the mid $30s, and can even approach $50 for specialties (a Kobe Steak on one visit). While a trip to Totaro’s may cost as much as two trips to your favorite restaurant, for my money it is worth staying home once to eat here, especially for a special occasion.

Details:
# of times we’ve eaten there: 3
Reservations: Yes
Payments: Cards
Bar: Full
http://www.totaros.com

7 Responses to “Totaro’s, Conshohocken”

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    After having a great meal at Totaro’s on a quiet Tuesday night I was curious about the restaurant and felt compelled to write a review. The other reviews seem dated, and Totaro’s may have undergone some changes in the interim, but my family was pleasantly surprised by the fresh, flavorful dishes, charming atmosphere and friendly service. The menu was a nice mix of nouveau Italian and traditional dishes. The rigatoni with broccoli rabe & sausage was the beat I’ve ever tried. Coming from NY we are accustomed to paying for a good meal..but it wasn’t over the top and was certainly worth every cent. We didn’t know it was BYOB but that was okay.

    • mld says:

      There are actually two places called Totaro’s now – it sounds like you ate at the trattoria, which is the more casual of the two. Our review above actually applies to the other place – though you are certainly correct that it is way outdated!

  2. Dave says:

    I have to agree with L. Corba. We were quite underwhelmed considering all of the hype we heard prior to our visit.’Disappointed’ is the only description that keeps coming to mind.

  3. L. Corba says:

    Totaro’s is far, far away from being a five star establishment. You walk into the bar -which reeks of old smoke (and not so old smoke – yuk). Make sure you hang your own coat because there is no coat check here. You’ll be seated in the small restaurant area and get to hear the bartender tell her stories even though she is in the next room -she is a loud one!! The menu seems interesting and I ordered the buffalo while my dining partner ordered the boar and venison. OK – let’s start at the beginning – with the salad. It was OK – just OK – for $10.00!!! Really! No bread -fresh or otherwise, was offered. The entree’s arrived and although they were tasty ,, the portions were small – not worth the price tag of nearly $40 each. Most of my plate (Buffalo) consisted of a heap of drab mashed potatoes. I’m not even going into detail on the dego decor in this place. All in all – I would never put money in their coffers again as it just isn’t worth it. There are soooo many other places in the city and suburbs that will give you BOTH ambiance and delicious food along with excellent service. If I’m going to pay nearly $200 for a dinner (we had a bottle of wine – second to lowest price Cab at $50) – you should be treated to beautiful decor, excellent service and out of this world. Go to the Dilworthtown Inn in West Chester instead….

  4. Lisa says:

    My husband and I have enjoyed eating at Totaros more than one time…and I must say…my mouth waters just thinking about the gnocchis! One evening we were there, a young couple sat at the corner table…a special spot. A former waiter, came in to sing, and low and behold, a proposal ensued! What a romantic night for all who were there.

  5. Jen says:

    A wonderful treat as you don’t expect such wonderful food to come out of a place that looks like a hole in the wall from outside. Very inventive dishes, and a great experience all around.

  6. Doug says:

    I have eaten in restaurants around the world and Totaro’s ranks with some of the best. The food preparation is very unique using a blend of the old world quality and the new world improv. The ingredients are top notch and service is great. Don’t go to Totaro’s if you are a penny pincher as prices are up there with the quality. The cost is well worth it for this amazing dining experience. Go and enjoy what may be the best food in the are

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