Food & DrinkFebruary 16, 2011 at 7:35 am

Review: Le Castagne

Italian fare doesn't live up to its price.

Adrian Franco | 34th Street
With the amount of Italian restaurants in Philadelphia, it would be hard to recommend Le Castagne as a top choice. The restaurant is located near Rittenhouse, not far from campus on 21st and Chestnut in a glass building. The modern decor is immediately noticeable because most Italian restaurants in Philly are often cheesily decorated with over–the–top Italian themes.

Unfortunately, the restaurant seemed to be quite empty, with only a few tables filled with an older, business–like crowd. Despite the lack of guests, my friend and I had to wait for over five minutes to get the attention of a waiter, as the hostess was nowhere to be seen.

For our appetizers, we asked the waiter for his recommendation between the smoked salmon rolled with goat cheese and a honey scallion vinaigrette ($13) and the Mozzarella di Bufala ($16) wrapped with prosciutto finished with chili, basil and olive oil. He recommended the latter, and we were glad to follow his advice, as the mozzarella was certainly the highlight of the night.

As a main course we tried the Spaghetti alle castagne ($21), which came in a chestnut cream sauce topped with cocoa powder, and the Tagliolini allo scoglio ($21), topped with calamari and rock shrimp in a light saffron sauce. While the spaghetti was not a bad choice, the heavy cream made it difficult to finish the dish, and the cocoa powder did nothing for the flavor. An appetizer–sized portion would have definitely been enough. The tagliolini with shrimp and calamari was also an okay choice, but nothing stood out about the dish. It was certainly not as flavorful as a traditional spaghetti ai frutti di mare. We were hoping one of their homemade desserts would make us leave on a happier note, but the chocolate parfait  failed to impress.

By no means would I call our meal at Le Castagne bad. It was simply average. It certainly does not meet what should be expected of a $50–plus per person meal. If you are okay with trying decent, but somewhat overpriced northern Italian cuisine I would not shy away from Le Castagne, but do not expect to get the same quality you would from any other similarly priced Italian restaurant in Philadelphia.

1920 Chestnut St.
(215) 751–9913
Don’t Miss: Mozzarella di bufala
Skip: Spaghetti alle castagne

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