Ristorante Il Melograno, Doylestown, PA – A Review

by artfuldiner on March 27, 2018

in Artful Diner Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Pennsylvania, Review, Wining and Dining

Ristorante Il Melograno

Mercer Square

73 Old Dublin Pike

Doylestown, Pennsylvania

(215) 348-7707


Il Melograno - InteriorIf you happen to be planning an excursion to the Michener Art Museum, Il Melograno would make a marvelously pleasant stopover for either lunch or dinner. Tucked away in the Mercer Square Shopping Center, this charming BYOB is conveniently located just a little over a mile from the Michener… And don’t let that utilitarian strip mall facade fool you. Once across the threshold, you’ll find the interior warm, welcoming and comfortingly romantic.

Chef/proprietor Angelo Domenico Patruno and his wife, Maria, hail from Puglia, the region that forms the tacco or heel of the Italian boot. Angelo’s career stretches from Bermuda’s Harbourfront Restaurant to Philly’s late, great Monte Carlo Living Room to Hatboro’s Café La Fontana. Since purchasing Il Melograno in 2000, Angelo has been cooking up a storm of sunny Italian dishes fused with a variety of international flavors.

The printed menu, as you would expect, contains many of the usual suspects; all carefully prepared and presented, I might add… But always keep your eyes peeled for the chef’s more innovative offerings, as they are clearly where the action is. To start things off, for example, you may opt for the ubiquitous Caesar salad. Of infinitely more interest, however, is the Insalata Mista con Gorgonzola, mixed greens tossed with a zippy balsamic vinaigrette garnished with wedges of pungent Gorgonzola cheese.

Il Melograno - Tuna CarpaccioThen, of course, there’s always the Carpaccio di Manzo, featuring thin slices of raw beef. Very good, indeed. But even better, in my opinion, is the recently sampled special of Tuna Carpaccio (pictured). Wafer-thin, and at the peak of good health, the tuna simply melts away on the tongue. A tangle of baby arugula tossed with lemon juice and olive oil adds a decidedly peppery element, with capers, onions, and shaved parmesan cheese in strong supporting roles. When available as a daily special, it is simply not to be missed.

Il Melograno - Calamari FrittiThe Calamari Fritti is also something of a must. The rings are lightly breaded, deep-fried to a golden brown, and served with a zesty marinara for dipping. As every calamari lover knows, squid has an Achilles heel: If improperly prepared it leaves the diner with the uncomfortable feeling that he/she has been munching on undercooked rubber bands. No worries here, however, as Chef Angelo’s calamari rings are as incomparably tender as they are tasty.

Il Melograno - Vitello alla SicilianaEntrées carry on the kitchen’s good work… and if there is an acid test for Italian restaurants, it is almost certainly their veal dishes – which Ristorante Il Melograno passes with flying colors. The chef offers a benchmark Vitello Saltimbocca, thinly sliced veal with fresh sage and prosciutto sautéed with a splash of white wine in a luscious brown sauce; and Vitello al Marsala, veal sautéed with mushrooms in a Marsala wine & brown sauce. Both excellent and highly recommended. My nod, though, goes to the irresistible Vitello alla Siciliana (pictured). Tender segments of veal are gently sautéed and then topped with thin slices of eggplant, mozzarella, garlic and finished with fresh diced to tomatoes. As comfortingly homey as it is delicious.

Il Melograno - Scampi GratinatiBut if seafood is more to your likely, the kitchen presents a number of interesting possibilities… From the printed menu, you may choose such items as Salmone al Promodoro Fresco, salmon sautéed with diced tomatoes and basil; Branzino ai Pomodori Secchi, Mediterranean seabass served up with an intriguing cold marinade of sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, capers, scallions and extra virgin olive oil; and the fabulous Scampi Gratinati (pictured), jumbo shrimp crowned with a mixture of breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, parmesan cheese, and olive oil au gratin.

Il Melograno - Swordfish w PuttanescaIn addition to the printed menu, as noted above, be sure to check out the chef’s innovative daily specials. Recent offerings have included such first-rate entrées as Tilapia and Shrimp in Marinara and Swordfish with Puttanesca Sauce (pictured). This latter dish, its interesting etymology related to prostitutes notwithstanding, is especially recommended because of its exceedingly flavorful ingredients – garlic, capers, olives, anchovies, and crushed red pepper – that are assertive, pungent, and highly invigorating. And, as one food writer so astutely noted, puttanesca works precisely because it is a study in contrasts. Anchovies and olives are salty where tomatoes are sweet; oily where tomatoes are watery; dark in color where tomatoes are vivid. The combination of these contradictory ingredients is, she goes on to say, a nonpareil; it is incomparable.

Il Melograno - Pappardelle al CinghialeHowever… don’t overlook the pastas, which are every bit the equal of the regular entrées. There are more contemporary dishes such as Tagliolini nere con Granchio, black tagliolini (long thin ribbons similar to fettucine) with jumbo lump crabmeat, fresh diced tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and white wine sauce, as well as some old favorites like Spaghetti con Vongole, Ravioli alla Vodka, and a dynamite Fettuccine alla Bolognese with classic meat sauce. But if you’re contemplating the Bolognese, by all means go the extra mile and sample the Pappardelle al Cinghiale, pappardelle with wild boar ragù (pictured). This is the “other white meat” with a major attitude… rich and abundantly flavorful. Pork lovers, take note.

Il Melograno - NapoleonDesserts roll out the old favorites… tiramisù, cheesecake, chocolate mousse, cannoli, and crème brûlée. The showstopper, however, is the incredible, over-the-top, more-than-suitable-for-sharing Napoleon.  Layers of crisp puff pastry are filled with chocolate mousse, pastry cream, whipped cream, and fresh strawberries, then dusted with cocoa powder and drizzled with chocolate sauce. An absolutely decadent eye-popping treat… but definitely not for the calorie conscious.

On the other hand, if you’re in the mood for something a bit less extravagant, I highly recommend (and actually prefer) the light and luscious Limoncello Cream Cake.

Should you find yourself anywhere in the immediate Doylestown area, Ristorante Il Melograno is an excellent choice for a leisurely lunch or dinner. Given the superior quality of the cuisine, the prices are quite reasonable; and the fact that you may tote along a vintage of your own choosing is an added plus for your pocketbook. In addition, each Sunday – Thursday, the restaurant offers diners a special three-course menu priced at $35.00 per person (plus beverages tax & gratuity).

Bon Appétit!


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