4 Manor Rd.
Rating: 2 silver spoons out of five
Overall: San Nicola serves traditional Italian food that is well-prepared but lacks creativity. It is absolutely a reasonable neighborhood restaurant for a weekday meal, or someplace to take a larger group where everyone will be satisfied. For a special night, however, the lack of ingenuity falls short, especially for the adventurous eater.
Food: Standard Italian fare, simple but well-executed. Start out with the Cheese & Pepper plate, served family style ($3 per person), to enjoy homemade sweet roasted red peppers and a variety of excellent Italian cheeses. The grilled red snapper fillet served with a white wine cream sauce, roasted peppers and toasted almonds ($17.50) was a nice dish, if a tad bland. We also tried the beef filet ($21.50), grilled a perfect medium rare and served with a red wine demiglace and garnished with whole roasted garlic and fresh rosemary. The Misto di Carne ($19) offers a nice variety of sauteed sausage, chicken breast and veal tenderloin topped with a cream sauce of peas and carrots, but again is a pretty boring dish. The best dish we’ve had is the grilled salmon filet ($18) served with salmoriglio sauce (olive oil, lemon and garlic) — the salmon was perfectly crispy on the outside and tender within, and the simple sauce brought out the fish’s flavor.
TSN recently started offering a side of vegetables instead of the longtime tradition of a pasta side, perhaps in part because of the suggestion on this very page.
Ambiance: Several small rooms, decorated Tuscan-style, with windows surrounding the entire building. Because the rooms are small, it can get very loud, which can either make it seem like a hot spot or cause a headache, depending on one’s mood. There is also a small, smoke-free bar area for a quick drink and meal. The Paoli location is nicer than the Berwyn location.
Service: Pleasant and competent. A few blemishes — had to wait for a table with a reservation on a weeknight, even though there were several open tables, and one request for a minor plate change (from the menu) was not handled correctly. A few years ago at the Berwyn location, we had to wait 45 minutes for a table with reservation.
Value: The prices seem a tad high for the quality of food, especially considering the fact that they sell alcohol. One nice feature is the BYO policy — although they do have a full bar, they allow BYOW for a $10 corkage fee. Granted, corkage fees are generally evil, but when faced with paying restaurant markup or bringing a nice bottle from home and dropping an additional few bucks for the privelage, this seems to create a good value proposition.
#of times we’ve eaten there: 3
Reservations: Yes (you still may wait at busy times)
Bar: Full, BYOW with $10 corkage