Historically, the Main Line-as Philadelphians call the area just west of the city-has been better known for its old money, exclusive private schools, and good manners than for the depth or deliciousness of its dining. But restaurants like the sophisticated Savona in Gulph Mills are turning the city's conventional restaurant geography on its head. These days, for a restaurant where former Philadelphia Inquirer critic Elaine Tait had "one of the most memorable, and most personally enjoyable meals of my 35-year career in food," suburbanites need look no further than their own backyard.
Philadelphia magazine named the Italian newcomer the "Best New Restaurant" in town. Len Lear commented in A&L Magazine that his "favorite dinner of the entire year was at Savona. This is the ideal place for a celebratory dinner because the surroundings are so elegant, the service so professional, and the food so divine." But it isn't just locals who have noticed this Main Line sensation. Wine Spectator gave Savona its 1998 Award of Excellence. And Diversion noted, "The two-year-old Savona in Gulph Mills is definitely worth a detour, since it is one of the finest Italian restaurants in the United States, with a wine list to match."
Who is creating the magic on the plate? Chef Dominique Filoni was born in Saint-Tropez, France, into a family that loved food and understood the restaurant business firsthand. His father was maître d'hôtel at several upscale restaurants. His grandmother made pasta and cakes that were legendary. (Filoni still uses many of her recipes.) As a young boy, Filoni foraged with his uncle for snails, wild mushrooms, and leeks, and so it seemed natural that he should attend restaurant school. After graduation, he began his career at L'Auberge des Vieux Moulins in Saint-Tropez, then worked in several fine restaurant kitchens in France, including at Château de la Messardière. In 1995, Filoni was invited to come to the United States to prepare authentic Riviera cuisine at Tierra in Gulph Mills. When the restaurant was sold and re-christened Savona, Filoni stayed on, continuing to turn out what John Mariani described in Wine Spectator as "exquisitely fresh and wonderfully simple" food.
Cornucopia of Crispy Whitebait with Fresh Lemon
Fingerling Potatoes and Foie Gras
Farinata with Black Olives
Quail Eggs with White Truffles
Red Snapper Carpaccio with Caviar Cream
Red Mullet with Braised Winter Vegetables and Black Truffle Broth
Breast of Squab with White Truffle Risotto
Veal Tenderloin with Bone Marrow, Escarole, and Cipolline Barolo Sauce
Taleggio, Asiago, and Gorgonzola Cheeses Served with Walnut Currant Bread
Cranberry Panettone with Grand Marnier and Orange Sorbetto