November 19, 2015

The Nana Test: La Fontana Della Citta

On one of the recent beautiful November nights, we took the opportunity to grab an outside seat at La Fontana Della Citta, an Italian BYOB near Rittenhouse Square. We've walked past a million times and seen it both empty and packed, leaving us to wonder - is that place any good?

La Fontana can be classified as an average BYOB that suits the purpose of an Italian meal. It’s not the place for special night out or a particularly dynamite experience. But, if you just want a decent bowl of penne, like I did, you’ll walk away pleased.

Let’s take La Fontana Della Citta through The Nana Test.

Atmosphere: Nothing especially unique. The outside seating was a bit too dark, even for November. The meal could have benefited from some more warmth from the waiters, too. Friends have told us that it gets quite boisterous later in the evening when a youthful crowd drowns their pasta with wine. The menu hints at this with some odd warnings such as a two credit card maximum per table, a $16.95 minimum per person after being seated and a request to leave promptly after paying your bill. 3 out of 5

Simplicity: La Fontana has an expansive menu covering just about every Italian dish. The presentation is basically, "here is your dish to eat." Kristy’s gnocchi lacked the ideal fluffiness, but the vodka sauce hit the simplicity notes. Olive oil for the table (which only came after we asked for it) was terrible and could have been a store brand for all I know. Too simple. 3 out of 5

Gnocchi in a blush sauce with random chunks of mozzarella cheese. That last part was awkward.

The sauce: Arrabiata is one of my favorite sauces and I've found many lacking spiciness, or worse just come with a hot pepper on top. La Fontana’s had a deep red sauce flavor with just the right amount of spice. The sauce sums up La Fontana in a nutshell - I could make their dishes better at home, but then I would have to spend the time to make it. In other words, La Fontana gets the basic job done in a pinch. Side note: Di Bruno's homemade jar of arrabiata is a great option for an Italian night at home. 3 out of 5

Penne Arrabiata

Serving size and bread: As the cornerstone of a great Italian meal, it's surprising that La Fontana completely neglected this area. The bread tasted like stale Wonder Bread. Terrible. The serving size hit the Goldilocks note, though - not too much, not too little. 1 out of 5

Antipasti: For only $10, La Fontana provides an above average portion and solid variety of meats and cheeses. The actual antipasti though was a microcosm for the meal - neither great nor bad. 2 out of 5


The secret sambuca test: Our little guy was ready to get going so we did not have a chance to grab an espresso or digestif. I did overhear the waitress tell another couple that they have house red and white wine for guests that don't bring their own. I’ll give the benefit of doubt and assume they had some sambuca. +1

Overall score - 13 out of 25

*Kid friendly? While we did not eat inside, we think La Fontana would be fine with a kid, especially if you're on the early side. It's not a high-end BYOB.

On a related note, we've quickly realized that outside dining is a godsend for newbie parents. It's been a great way to check out restaurants, keep the baby occupied and store the stroller. We're hoping it's a short winter and/or more restaurants will continue to embrace the needs of parents.

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