On Sunday, September 16, we attended the West Chester (PA) Restaurant Festival. On that day, much of Market Street, Gay Street, and some connector streets are closed to vehicle traffic. Restaurants and other vendors set up booths and tent to offer small samplings of their fare. We love the vibrant feel of downtown West Chester, especially places like Nonna’s and The Olive Tree on Gay Street.
|Click any pic to enlarge|
This Festival promised a chance to try some of the others and see if we want to come back for a full meal. For the most part, we discovered that all of the kitchen skills needed to run a successful restaurant don’t necessarily guarantee that you have mastered the skills of outdoor catering. It was a fun day out, but the range of foods offered was narrow. We sampled a bunch of small plates, but the cold food suffered from sitting out in the heat, and the hot food spent too much time in warming trays.
|Peace-A-Pizza dude, also at the Festival|
We had heard only wonderful reports of Limoncello, the Italian eatery that may be West Chester’s most popular. So when they offered slices of tomato pie (Conshohocken-style, which is a Sicilian-style crust, sauce, and only a dusting of cheese), we had to try it. I will never be sold on room-temperature tomato pie. When you buy a slice at Tony Roni’s, they offer to heat it for you.
This big slice was tepid, the crust was thick and without much flavor of its own, despite a nice golden browning underneath. L&B Spumoni Gardens (Coney Island) sells a slice that is just as thick, but that bread is ethereal in its lightness with its deep crunch on the bottom. The sauce was pleasant but not distinctive in any way. The cheese dusting was above average, and I love the touch of adding a generous layer of slivered fresh basil. Overall, a 5.5. If that slice was all I knew about Limoncello, I wouldn’t hurry to try the rest.
However, I have heard only good things about Limoncello, and from gourmands that I trust. We’re definitely going to visit and try the wider menu, and will be able to offer a full and fair review then. I saw other fare offered by restaurants I know and love – Pietro’s Prime, Nonna’s, The Olive Tree – that also failed to draw my interest. At the end of the day, this festival offers the chance to wander around and munch and network on a sunny day in September, but next time I will probably stick to the burgers and similarly less ambitious fare, then grab a table and watch the Eagles game.