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Sunday, December 4, 2011
Alfredo BYO in Berwyn
The place was bustling inside, but we were seated immediately and sent to a table right in the center of the front room. We tried to get a table in a better location, but the hostess insisted the other tables were all taken. The dining room is decorated nicely, but very crammed together. Our table was the least desirable in the room, and waiters were constantly banging into our chairs and jostling us throughout the night. The noise level was extremely high, and though we were all seated within inches of each other, I could barely make out most of the conversation. Alfredo reminded me a little of Fellini in Newtown Square before Trattoria Guiseppe came to town. BYOB, loud, crammed in table to table with average Italian fare.
Sometimes it's nicer to have fewer tables and a more spacious dining room. However, I did like that the restaurant was BYOB, and I did not see a corkage fee on the bill at the end of the night.
The menu is meat and seafood-heavy. I did notice that some of the pasta was hand-made (the gnocchi) and the chicken was *free range*. The in house patry chef makes the desserts, too. As with many Italian restaurants, Vegan selections are absent from the menu. Everything has a meat or a cheese involved. Yes, you can always order a plate of pasta with vegetables, or a plain salad, but I am always looking for more. Perhaps my expectations are too high? Perhaps a Vegan Lasagna with Tofu tucked inside...but I digress...
The waitress brought over a basket of sourdough bread and some oil after a few minutes. The bread was Sourdough and I confess I wasn't a big fan. I ordered the Eggplant Parmigiana with Spaghetti as my entree. My meal was just "good". The entree came out hot, and I had no problem finishing everything on my plate. The wait for our food was a little longer than usual, but by 8pm, the place had a line spilling out the door waiting to be seated.
My friend ordered Agnolotti Alfredo: half moon shaped pasta with Ricotta cheese, cream sauce, spinach. My friend's Agnolotti Alfredo was good. Definitely not fantastic, or anything particularly special or different. Just a basic Italian meal. I've read the reviews on Urban Spoon and Yelp, and Alfredo gets very good ratings. It's hard to find a BYOB with reasonable prices on the Main Line.
Myself, I was put off by the service, crowds and the noise. After we received our entrees, our waitress was surprisingly absent for most of the evening. We had to flag her down for an extra wine glass and dessert. My friend asked three times for the check.
None of us were impressed with the service. In all fairness, I'd like to give Alfredo another chance on a weeknight, when it might not be such a madhouse. The price was nice at $65, before tip, for three entrees and two desserts.
I know I can be picky, and sometimes I expect too much. If the service and the noise at Alfredo wasn't so bad, then perhaps my review would be better. Alfredo tries hard to be a good neighborhood Italian BYOB, and with better service and noise control, it may hit the mark. Alfredo himself stopped by our table near the end of the meal to ask how we were enjoying our dinner. I thought that was a nice touch. I will be heading back in one month with my book club, a party of ten. I am sure Alfredo will be busting at the seams with a group that size, but we shall see...
UPDATE: 4/01/2012: On a return Saturday evening trip to Alfredo, the restaurant was much less congested, and tables seemed to spaced more evenly apart. Our waitress was very helpful, and the service was much improved. This time I tried the Homemade potato dumplings, fresh mozzarella, pomodoro basil sauce, and it did not disappoint. Parking was seamless, and the overall experience was very positive. I am glad that I returned and gave Alfredos a second chance.