729 East Hector St.
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.
# of times we’ve eaten there: 3