Award-Winning Local Restaurants


Jess Pevner

            The Main Line boasts remarkable schools, homes, shops, and of course, restaurants. The continually-adapting culinary culture of our area includes countless places to eat and drink. From classics like Minella’s Diner to trendier spots like Raw Can Roll Cafe, there’s something to please everyone. There are enough restaurants around to always be trying something new, even if you’ve lived here forever.
           Each year, news source Main Line Today publishes a comprehensive “Best of the Main Line” list. The award spans five overarching categories: eat and drink, goods and services, health and recreation, sports and culture, and wildcard picks. Each wide category has a number of subcategories. Eat and Drink, the largest of the five, includes over 100 individual awards. Some of these specific recognitions are quite unique, like best “Excuse to Celebrate New Year’s Twice” or “Place for Gourmet-Food Junkies.” A majority, though, remain standard, like best pizza, milkshake, or cupcakes.
           Since so many different restaurant awards are out there, one might expect a huge number of award-winners in Wayne. However, it is important to note the wide span of towns that the Main Line Today considers for the awards. Some might imagine the Main Line to be just the Radnor and Lower Merion area. In reality, the Main Line Today includes such cities as Kennett Square, Manayunk, and Exton in its rankings. With this in mind, it makes far more sense why just six of the Eat and Drink awards went to Wayne restaurants in 2015.
           The six dining awards won by Wayne restaurants include ambiance, dining institution, late-night happy hour, locally sourced coffee, Neapolitan pizza, and sandwich alternative. These categories have essentially no overlap, which speaks to the diverse dining experiences that Wayne has to offer. The Paramour restaurant of the Wayne Hotel took home the award for ambiance. The Main Line Today compliments the “richly decorated interior and inviting atmosphere” of Paramour, which serves every meal.
           The Dining Institution recognition was given to Minella’s Diner—a well-loved spot among the high school community. Students can be seen at Minella’s year-round, especially after school events like football games. The reason Minella’s does so well, in my opinion, is that it’s a big fish in a small pond. Where else in the area can you order almost anything you want, 24/7, with fast service? On top of that, the food’s not too bad either. These factors make Minella’s a well-deserved winner of the Dining Institution award (I have yet to find the precise definition of a “Dining Institution”—if anyone finds out, let me know).
           Sushi restaurant and bar O-toro was recognized for Late-Night Happy Hour. Though us high schoolers legally can’t appreciate this aspect of O-toro, customers of any age can enjoy the “chic seating area” for which the Main Line Times praises the restaurant.
The best Locally Sourced Coffee on the Main Line can be found at the relatively new Wayne Coffee & Ice Cream Bar. Though it’s easy to miss, on the underground level of a looked-over building, the Wayne Bar certainly is no negligible restaurant. Its quaint, retro-inspired interior provides a refreshing change of scenery from the rest of downtown Wayne. The Main Line Times lauds the cafe’s baristas–some of which include Radnor graduates and current students–as experts. They serve up local brands such as ReAnimator and Greenstreet Coffee. Both of these companies maintain their bases in Philadelphia, so the Wayne Bar promotes local industry.
Just upstairs from the Wayne Bar is Vecchia Pizzeria, which was recognized for having the best Neapolitan Pizza on the Main Line. A part of the local community since only fall of 2014, Vecchia draws its culinary inspiration from New York City’s signature style of pizza. The restaurant is run by Frank Nattle, whose flagship Vecchia is located in Phoenixville. His second Vecchia has found quite a happy home in Wayne, where it fits naturally with the many other Italian restaurants in extremely close proximity. These other restaurants include Paula’s, Teresa’s, and Arde.
The final Food and Drink award given to a local restaurant, best Sandwich Alternative, went to Creperie Bechamel. Located where beloved Johnny’s Hot Dogs once stood, the creperie is run by spouses Jennifer and Patrick Yasaitis. The two, who went on their first date at a Philadelphia creperie, opened one of their own on June 30, 2012. Bechamel serves up crepes for every meal, from Egg & Cheese for breakfast to Carrot Cake for dessert.
All in all, our area has a lot to offer in terms of excellent cuisine–and by no way are these restaurants limited to award winners. But maybe next time you’re looking for something new to try, maybe you’ll go check out one of the local spots recognized. Bon appetit!