Philadelphia, PA - My (Michelle Leonard) birthday is November 18. My business partner Realtor Dana Friedman knew that I have wanted to try Restaurant Andiario in West Chester for four years and that it is challenging to score a reservation. Dana is brilliant and resourceful, so I wasn't surprised she got a reservation. Joining Dana and me at dinner were Shawn, Lorie Lynch, and Dana's husband, Kevin Waddy, Andiaro is located at 106 W Gay Street in West Chester. 484-887-0919
Chef Tony Andiaro and their wife Maria Vanschaijik, the hostess, have created a genuinely world-class restaurant - magical. When I was at Mount Holyoke College, I had a poster in my room with a quote from Winston Churchill: "My tastes are simple. I like only the very best." That still applies today, and dinner at Andiamo is the best! Chef Tony only serves Pennsylvania products, and the food is simply delicious. It is a fixed menu. The waiter asked if any of us had food allergies or if there was anything we didn't eat. I decided to go on the program and stick with Chef Tony's menu. I truly appreciated Maria giving us in-depth descriptions of each course - I will share this background info with you.
Puntarelle looks like white asparagus with chicory flavor and celery texture. It's also said to have the spiciness of arugula with hints of fennel. Maria told us about the unique kitchen tool that Tony bought in Rome that made the Puntarelle look like a spider plant!! It was so cool. The dressing was a vinaigrette with anchovies and lemon and was refreshing. It was topped with fresh tuna, which Dana picked out for me.
Next, they served us a country loaf of bread. OMG, it was the best bread I have had in a long time. They set the bar very high. Yes, I had seconds.
Next up was the cauliflower carpaccio and bagna cauda. Imagine white and purple flattened cauliflower with a salty, savory, and garlicky seasoning made from excellent fresh anchovies- by the way, it was not fishy.
Next up was my favorite course - what dreams are made of. Marina di chioggia Squash filled nicchi St Malachi and vincotto. The squash was an heirloom sea pumpkin of Chioggia, a fishing village on the coast of Italy, south of Venice. The large turban-shaped fruit is deep blue-green. It is one of the most beautiful and unique of all squash. St Malachi is a savory Gouda/Alpine hybrid, one of Philly's most award-winning cheeses, and an American Cheese Society Best In Show recipient! It was created in Coatesville, PA, at the 700-acre Farm at Doe Run and Doe Run Dairy, which is dedicated to producing high-quality milk which makes high-quality cheese. Their herd includes Jersey cows, East Fresian sheep, and Nubian goats! Vincotto is a dark, sweet, thick paste produced in rural areas of Italy. It is made by slow cooking and reduction over many hours of non-fermented grape until it has been reduced to about one-fifth of its original volume and the sugars present have caramelized. Seriously this pasta dish was so unbelievably tasty I ate every morsel.
Ossobuco with Kuroda carrots. True confession I'm not a big veal eater, but It was delicious. I was obsessed with the carrots. Kuroda Carrot is an heirloom Karen variety that originated in Japan.
This chantey-type carrot is shorter, with broad shoulders and a less-pronounced taper from top to bottom. These short, stocky carrots are renowned for their flavor, texture, and sweetness. The consistency is potato-like inside. I covered my carrot in the juice from the Osso Bucco. Um, um, good.
The dessert was Apple and hazelnut tart with ginger ice cream. A perfect finish for a memorable dinner. I appreciated the happy birthday serenade as I blew out the candle. Fingers crossed that my wishes come true.
The food was exceptional! The service was excellent! The Veuve Cliquot champagne is my favorite! (The restaurant sells wine by the glass, or you can bring your own for a $25 corkage fee per bottle which Dana did) The company is the best!! I had so much fun with my crew that my face still hurts from too much laughing. Thank you, Dana, for arranging this memorable evening. Maria is to my left in the photo, and Chef Tony is waving in the kitchen.