Anthony’s Cucina Fresca, Downingtown, PA – A Review

by artfuldiner on July 17, 2019

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

Anthony’s Cucina Fresca

78 West Lancaster Avenue

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

(610) 873-5544

Anthony's Dowingtown - InteriorOwned by Chef Danilo Angelucci and his wife, Katherine, Anthony’s Cucina Fresca is a homey, welcoming and, above all, bustling trattoria. No matter what day of the week you decide to put in an appearance – especially at dinner – rest assured that the joint will be jumping… which is something of a recommendation in and of itself… “Never eat in an empty restaurant,” food writer Jim Quinn once remarked, “everyone who isn’t there must know something you don’t.”

… And there are several excellent reasons why Anthony’s continues to pack them in: the food is well-prepared and generously portioned; the price is right (downright inexpensive in my book); and the service – even in the midst of the hustle & bustle and the tightly-spaced seating arrangements – is self-assured, friendly, and exceedingly knowledgeable… Another plus is the restaurant’s well-stocked bar, which features select signature cocktails and an assortment of Italian wines and beers.

Anthony's Downingtown - BurrataAppetizers get culinary matters off to a good start. There are, of course, the so-called usual suspects, items such as the Clams & Mussels Mix in either red or white sauce, Fried Calamari, and Bruschetta. But the kitchen also turns out a number of more interesting starters that appear to be specifically designed to pique your culinary curiosity as well as rouse your tired taste buds from slumber. The Stuffed Figs, Prosciutto, and Mascarpone, for example, isn’t exactly your usual bill of fare. Dry figs are stuffed with a creamy mascarpone cheese and chopped walnuts and served with Prosciutto di Parma. But even better is the kitchen’s updated Burrata (pictured). Homemade creamy mozzarella is pillowed on a bed of spring mix, topped with roasted red peppers, and finished with a delicious pesto sauce and splash of truffle oil.

Anthony's Downingtown - Baked EggplantUtilizing a host of familiar ingredients, Anthony’s Eggplant (pictured) is a charmingly contemporary take on a traditional starter. Thick tender slices of baked eggplant are interspersed with homemade fresh mozzarella and Romano cheese, splashed with extra virgin olive oil & marinara sauce, and crowned with a fresh basil leaf. As photogenic as it is delicious. The definitive winner in the appetizer department.

Anthony's Downingtown - Signature SaladAnthony’s salads, which are anything but ordinary, also make marvelous starters – and most easily double as light entrées or are suitable for sharing… The Pear, for instance, offers up slices marinated in cinnamon sauce with mixed greens, Gorgonzola, walnuts, and homemade vinaigrette dressing… The Portobello combines glazed mushrooms, mixed greens, roasted zucchini, goat cheese, and caramelized almonds splashed with a mandarin vinaigrette… The Organic includes chickpeas, sunflower seeds, feta cheese, kalamata olives, beets, and fresh mushrooms served over a bed of spinach with a homemade honey vinaigrette. My nod, however, goes to Anthony’s Signature Salad (pictured), a delightful combo of fresh strawberries, grapes, sliced almonds, goat cheese, and grilled salmon on a bed of romaine lettuce drizzled with a first-class honey/balsamic vinaigrette.

As you move on to the entrées, tradition prevails once again, as the menu offers the customary variety of pastas and chicken & veal dishes served up Saltimbocca, Marsala, Piccata, and Parmigiana. Salmon, a menu mainstay, is presented San Remo (baked with mussels, clams, and shrimp in a spicy marinara) and Sicilian (baked in a garlic olive oil sauce sided by sautéed vegetables). The kitchen also puts out a very nice Filet Mignon Italian Style wrapped in bacon with mushroom sauce, mashed potatoes, and asparagus.

Anthony's Downingtown - LasagnaMy dining partner’s Chicken Parmigiana was particularly well prepared. The chicken was moist and tender, smothered in melted mozzarella and accompanied by al dente penne pasta. My only gripe was that the marinara sauce could have used a bit more seasoning. Anthony’s Lasagna (pictured), on the other hand, was right on the money. The lasagna noodles were layered with beef, mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan and then doused with a marinara & panna sauce. This is basically marinara sauce spruced up with heavy cream and a touch of nutmeg. And its presence added a delightfully rich & creamy dimension to the lasagna’s taste and texture. A must try.

Veal, in whatever incarnation it may appear, is always a good bet. My Veal Marsala, for instance, sautéed in a mushroom Marsala wine sauce, was marvelously tender and offered up just enough consistency to indicate that you were biting into the real McCoy rather than that beneath contempt processed variety. The mashed potatoes also proved an excellent complement; and while the sauce struck me as a tad too sweet, why quibble.

Anthony's Downingtown - Fruit TartDesserts cover the usual bases, i.e., tiramisu and cannoli. Both are just fine… but occasionally the kitchen will bake up a sweet ending that is really worth those extra calories. Recently, for example, my dining partner and I were treated to an exquisite freshly-made fruit tart that far surpassed expectations. The crust was perfectly textured, the fruit at the peak of ripeness, and the creamy filling an ethereal treat. Take a gander at the photo and you’ll understand precisely what I mean. If it happens to make a guest appearance the evening of your visit, don’t hesitate to dig in.

Anthony’s Cucina Fresca – which, by the way, is not related in any way to Anthony’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant in Malvern (that was reviewed several months ago) – is most assuredly worth a visit. Just one caveat… As I write this review, Anthony’s is undergoing renovations, which may add to the general confusion or to the fun, depending upon your point of view.

Bon Appétit!


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