Dining Restaurants That Maintain The Tradition Of Tableside Preparation

Posted: June 21, 1990

There was a time when cooking at tableside was the personal art of hotel- and-restaurant captains, maitre d's and even waiters. Today, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find restaurants featuring this indulgence.

Caesar salad and fettuccine Alfredo are two of the better-known tableside dishes that have survived this service's disappearance. Flambeed desserts, such as bananas Foster, are still popular, as are a number of coffee preparations usually set aflame with great panache.

Rare is the restaurant that prepares steak Diane or veal piccante at the table. Some still do carvings of meats and fileting of fish in front of the diner.

Here are a few restaurants helping to keep alive this remnant of the era of the great hotels. (Credit-card symbols: V for Visa, AX for American Express, MC for MasterCard and D for Diners Club.)

BABE'S 3400 Aramingo Ave, 423-6000. A Port Richmond warehouse turned steakhouse, where lights glitter and virtually any item will be prepared at tableside if requested. Good food and a raw bar. Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

BOGART'S at the Latham Hotel, 17th & Walnut Sts, 563-9444. A comfortable dining room where the decor honors its namesake. Tableside cooking, from appetizers to desserts and coffees, joins an American menu with classic French overtones. Expensive. Breakfast, lunch & dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

LA CUCINA 121 South St., 925-3042. Featured at tableside are salads and flambeed desserts. Other specialties include a butterflied tenderloin smothered with crabmeat, and fettuccine topped with prosciutto and crabmeat in an Alfredo sauce. Dinner, 7 days. V, MC, AX.

HIDEAWAY 63 Kresson Rd, Cherry Hill, 609-428-7379. A name synonymous with New Jersey dining for years. Continental food served in huge portions, including salads, Dover sole, flambeed duck, crepes, desserts and exotic coffees done at the table. Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Suns. All major cards.

LA TRUFFE 10 S Front St, 925-5062. Classic French along the Delaware. It's warm and intimate. Tableside service features carving and fileting. Specialties include Dover sole meuniere. Expensive. Lunch, Tues-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

MEIJI-EN Pier 19 at Delaware Ave & Callowhill St, 592-7100. This Japanese restaurant is huge, yet it manages to offer a feeling of intimacy. Good seafood specialties and complete teppanyaki - which is actually tabletop cooking. Moderate. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

RAM'S HEAD INN 9 W White Horse Pike, Absecon, NJ, 609-652-1700. An elegant and expansive restaurant with a menu featuring colonial American and continental dishes. Caesar salad and meat-carving done at the table. Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

SEOUL GARDEN 1010 Cherry St, 923-7598. It's not tableside, but it's personalized tabletop cooking and a chance to sample Korean food, from kal bi baik ban (marinated short ribs) to kimchi. Loads of garlic. Beer only. Reasonable. Lunch & dinner, Thus-Tues. MC & V.

SEPTEMBER'S PLACE 642 Baltimore Pike, Springfield, 544-1230. Dine Tues-Suns to piano music. Caesar salads and flambeed desserts prepared at table. Moderate. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

S.P.Q.R. 2029 Walnut St, 496-0177. It's small, intimate, even romantic. Caesar salad and fettuccine Alfredo done at your table, as is Dover sole when available. Everything is made from scratch. Home-style veal, seafood and pasta dishes. Moderate. Lunch Tues- Fris. Dinner, Tues-Sats. AX & D.

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Following is a sampling of dining spots in and around the city:

NEW FACES

CAFE LUCIA 937 E Passyunk Ave, 463-9409. Attentive service in a conservative atmosphere. Contemporary Italian dishes, with emphasis on veal and seafood. Reasonable. Dinner, Mons-Sats. AX, V.

MARA BROS. TRATTORIA RISTORANTE 1533 11th St, 334-7722. A homey spot with a serious kitchen operated by two brothers from Turin, Italy, who turn out good, fresh pastas and excellent sauces. Country-style dishes a specialty. Lunch, Tues-Fris. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Moderate. AX.

RISTORANTE FRANCA MARIA 1614 McKean St. 755-2550. Home cooking here means the dishes of south-central Italy. Small, but comfortable. Baccala with roasted peppers is a specialty. Reasonable. Dinner, Weds-Mons. No cards.

RISTORANTE VITTORIO 316 S 5th St, 592-0350. Old-country Italian cooking. Good shareable pastas and mussels. Small quarters. Reasonable. Dinner, 7 days. D.

T.G.I. FRIDAY'S 18th St & Ben Franklin Parkway, 665-8443. Cheerful and breezy spot, complete with outdoor patio. Menu covers just about all tastes. Reasonable. Breakfast, lunch & dinner 7 days. Major cards.

FOOD WITH MUSIC

ALFIO'S 15 Limekiln Pike, Glenside, 885-3787. Live opera with a fixed-price

menu at 5 & 7:30 p.m. Suns. Italian specialties, including fresh fish and lobster tails. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Moderate. Major cards.

BORGIA CAFE 408 S 2d St, 574-0414. It's intimate, and it features live music nightly. The multilevel dining areas add a cozy dimension. Reasonable. Dinner, 7 days. V, AX & D.

GENERAL LAFAYETTE INN 646 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill, 248-3014. Scheduled to open its new enclosed porch by end of June. Crabmeat dishes, veal Oscar and duck are specialties. Piano music and dancing Weds-Sats during dinner. Moderate. Dinner, Mons-Suns. Major cards.

GENTILE'S VILLA 1919 E Passyunk Ave, 462-4255. Fine Italian food with a DJ Fri nights from 8 p.m. to midnight, and Sat from 9 p.m. till 2 a.m. Moderate. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

HAVANA 105 S Main St, New Hope, 862-9897. Music Fris, Sats & Suns, from jazz to ragtime. Regional American cuisine. Inexpensive to moderate. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

IL GALLO NERO 254 S 15th St, 546-8065. Piano music with classical and cabaret overtones accompanies the well-prepared and artistically presented Northern Italian cuisine. Consistency is a hallmark here. Expensive. Dinner, Tues-Sats. Major cards.

LIBERTIES RESTAURANT & BAR 705 N 2d St, 238-0660. A jazz group entertains

from 8:30 p.m. until past midnight Fris & Sats. Bill of fare is American, including pecan pork, stuffed trout and rack of lamb. Moderate. Dinner, Mons- Sats. Major cards.

LUKEN'S INN 8001 Landsdowne Ave, Upper Darby, 789-9200. Music Thurs-Suns 8 p.m.-2 a.m. accompanies the popular rack of lamb and veal dishes. Moderate. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Major cards.

MAGNOLIA CAFE 1602 Locust St, 546-4180. Jazz Tues nights complements the Cajun fare and other spicy dishes. Moderate. Dinner, 7 days. MC, V, AE.

MIDDLE EAST RESTAURANT 126 Chestnut St, 922-1003. Granddaddy of the city's Middle Eastern restaurants. Not everyone finds the music romantic, but it's fun, as are the belly dancers. On the menu: shish kebab, lamb, chicken and seafood. Moderate. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

ORTLEIB'S JAZZHAUS 847 N 3d St, 922-1035. Dine on Cajun dishes or sandwiches while listening to Bootsie Barnes and his All-Stars Sun nights, jam sessions Tues or Shirley Scott Trio Weds-Sats. Inexpensive. Dinner, 7 nights. AX, D.

SILVER LAKE INN 168 White Horse Pike, Clementon, 609-783-3300. On Fri & Sat nights, there's live music. The menu is primarily continental, with several German dishes featured. Moderate. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

VICTOR CAFE 1303 Dickinson St, 468-3040. Operatic classics are played and sung here. Menu offers classic home-style Italian food with some contemporary dishes. Walls are covered with pictures from Mozart to Muti, and the record collection is priceless. Moderate. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Major cards.

THINGS THAT SWIM

BOOKBINDERS SEAFOOD HOUSE 215 S 15th St, 545-1137. Along with the lobsters and daily specials, there are mussels done in a spicy diablo sauce. White sauce available upon request. Moderate. Lunch Mons-Fris. Dinner 7 days. Major cards.

DiNARDO'S 312 Race St, 238-9595. House specialty is blue-claw hardshells

from Gulf of Mexico. They're done Baltimore style (steamed) or garlic style. Reasonable. Lunch, Mons-Sats. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

FRANKIE'S SEAFOOD ITALIANO 11th St & Tasker Ave, 468-9989. It might take a while for your food to arrive, but it's all made to order and worth waiting for. Good seafood, linguine, veal and chicken dishes. Moderate. Dinner, Tues- Suns. MC, V & D.

PAR FOUR RESTAURANT 2301 Penrose Ave, 462-1760. Lots of seafood items, including a plank of goodies for two. Clams, oysters and mussels are specialties. Inexpensive. Lunch, Mons-Sats. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

SWEETWATER CASINO 7th Ave, Sweetwater, Mullica Township, NJ, 609-965-3285. Several miles off the White Horse Pike, where it runs through Hammonton, this ageless dining spot in the Pinelands fronts the Mullica River. Everything from snapper soup to catfish and senior-citizen specials. Inexpensive. Lunch, Mons- Sats. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

ITALIAN

FELICIA'S 1148 S 11th St, 755-9656. Pastas and regional Italian cooking are specialties. It's quiet, comfortable and unpretentious. The ravioli is excellent and the pesto dishes worthy. Lunch, Tues-Fris. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Moderate. Major cards.

MAMA YOLANDA'S 746 S 8th St, 592-0195. Excellent Northern-style pasta dishes and veal and chicken specialties. Antiques give the two dining rooms an interesting touch. Roomy dining to accommodate two or the entire family. Moderate. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Major cards.

MARRA'S RESTAURANT 1734 E Passyunk Ave, 339-9042. It started with pizza and now serves a full-fledged Italian menu. Popular spot. Reasonable. Lunch, Tues- Sats. Dinner, Tues-Suns. No credit cards.

NOSTALGIA ROOM 807 S 9th St, 574-9091. Traditional S Phila fare. Old-time celebrity photos cover the walls. A new menu that includes Southern Italian specialties and reasonably priced seafood combos. Good family dining. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Sats. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

PORTOFINO RESTAURANT 1227 Walnut St, 923-8208. The mussels come in a garlicky sauce and are generally excellent. Veal is of good quality, and the pastas are made at the restaurant. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons- Sats. Major cards.

RALPH'S 760 S 9th St, 627-6011. The tile walls are a thing of the past, but the food is still an excellent representation of traditional-style Southern Italian. Top-notch veal and pasta preparations. Moderate. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. No credit cards.

RISTORANTE SAN CARLO 214 South St., 592-9777. New Italian addition to South Street scene. It's small and gaining a reputation for its excellent pastas. Reasonable. Dinner, Mons-Suns. AX.

ROYAL VILLA CAFE 1700 Jackson St, 462-4488. Good, home-style Italian food here the way it used to be in S Phila. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. Inexpensive. No credit cards.

SOUTH PHILLY GRILLE 2026 S 12th St, 336-8833. Mussels in gravy have been a ritual for too many generations to mention. An old S Philly favorite. Lunch & dinner Mons-Sats. Inexpensive. No credit cards.

TORANO'S 11th & Christian Sts, 925-2282. Pastas and traditional Italian specialties in a villa-like atmosphere. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Major cards.

TRIANGLE TAVERN 10th & Reed Sts, 467-8683. Veal scaloppine to pizza, with local entertainment. Real neighborhood stuff, like an indoor Pat's Steaks. Inexpensive. Dinner, 7 days. No credit cards.

VILLA DiROMA 932 S 9th St, 592-1295. To 9th St what the Melrose Diner is to Snyder Avenue. Down-to-earth fare, with mussels and pasta reigning supreme. Veal's not bad; selection is huge. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Sats; dinner, 7 days. No credit cards.

ASIAN

CAFE HUE 114 N 3d St, 922-5900. New and inexpensive Vietnamese restaurant. Dishes include good noodle soups, decent spring rolls. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. AX.

HIKARU 607 S 2d St, 627-7110. Good Japanese food with a well-rounded menu. Newcomers to this cuisine will find the service helpful. Moderate. Lunch, Mons- Fris. Dinner 7 days. Major cards.

JOE'S PEKING DUCK HOUSE 925 Race St, 922-3277. Joe Poon runs this operation with uncanny skill, turning out wonderful ducks with crisp, glazed skin. His mussel soup and dumplings are always good bets. Inexpensive. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. No credit cards.

KADOYA 103 S Juniper St, 545-3417. It's small but interesting, with sushi and sashimi, other Japanese dishes. Reasonable. Lunch, Mons-Sats. Dinner, Tues-Sats. M & V.

LEE HOW FOOK 219 N 11th St, 925-7266. A small place that could be easily missed, but whose food is quite distinctive and artistically presented. No liquor. Moderate. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. No credit cards.

MONGOLIAN PAVILION 2d & Walnut Sts, 627-8218. Large Chinese restaurant where the specialties are Mongolian barbecue and hot pot. Inexpensive. Lunch & dinner 7 days. Major cards.

SANG KEE PEKING DUCK HOUSE 238 N 9th St, 925-7532. Granddaddy of city's Chinese duck houses. Nothing has changed here except the expanded room. No frills, but delicious duck dishes, noodle soups and fried shrimp. Inexpensive. No liquor. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. No credit cards.

SIAM CUISINE 925 Arch St, 922-7135. The hot spot for Thai cooking. Stir- fries for every asbestos level. The servers are helpful and will give advice. Moderate. Lunch & dinner 7 days. AX, MC & V.

TU DO RESTAURANT 1030 S 8th St, 829-9122. A Vietnamese restaurant in S Phila. Good rice and vegetarian dishes. Not unusual to find soft-shell crabs and quails as specials. No liquor. Inexpensive. Lunch & dinner, Weds-Mons. No credit cards.

VAN'S GARDEN 121 N 11th St, 923-2438. A Vietnamese restaurant with excellent spring rolls. Also, good soups, fried rice and noodle dishes, fresh herb accompaniments. No liquor. Inexpensive. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. No credit cards.

THE DINERS

AMERICAN DINER 4201 Chestnut St, 387-1451. The bill of fare here is home- cooked regional American food. Breakfast, lunch & dinner, 7 days. No credit cards.

AMERICAN DINER & SILK CITY BAR AND LOUNGE 435 Spring Garden St, 592-8838. Spinoff of the West Philadelphia American Diner, this spot features a lounge that resembles a 1950s rec room. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and egg creams. Breakfast, lunch & dinner 7 days. No credit cards.

BURLINGTON DINER Rte 130 & High St, Burlington, 609-387-0658. Beef goulash and veal cutlets are specialties. Greek spinach pie is another favorite. Breakfast, lunch & dinner, 7 days. Open 24 hours except Mon. No credit cards.

CLUB HOUSE DINER 2495 Street Rd, Bensalem, 639-4287. Something for everyone - even those who long for the likes of grape leaves and moussaka. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 days. Open 24 hours. All major cards.

COUNTRY CLUB RESTAURANT 1717 Cottman Ave, 722-0500. The line to dine is often long. Specializes in Dining With Heart items, chicken and Jewish-style dishes. Breakfast, lunch & dinner, 7 days a week. Open 24 hrs. All major cards.

DIAMOND II DINER Blackwood-Clementon Rd, Gloucester Twp, 609-627-9333. Home-style cooking. Chicken wings are great. Diner recently expanded. Breakfast, lunch & dinner, 7 days. V, MC, AX.

THE DINING CAR 8828 Frankford Ave 338-5113. The Torresdale Diner is gone, but this art-deco diner takes its place. Meatloaf, chicken croquettes, potato pancakes - the works. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. Open 24 hrs. No credit cards.

DOWN HOME DINER Reading Terminal Market, 627-1955. Down-home vittles, from catfish to smothered chicken. Check out the boiled custard. Breakfast and lunch, Mons-Sats. No dinner. No credit cards.

LOUPE'S SOMERDALE DINER 9 White Horse Pike, Somerdale, 609-784-4224. Featured items include Italian dishes, fresh-daily seafood and lots of sauteed dishes. Breakfast, lunch & dinner, 7 days. All major cards.

MAYFAIR DINER 7373 Frankford Ave, 624-8886. It's always been family time and home-style-from-scratch at the Mayfair, where even the mashed potatoes and orange juice are real. Breakfast, lunch & dinner, 7 days a week. Open 24 hrs. No credit cards.

MELROSE DINER 1501 Snyder Ave, 467-6644. Long lines to get in - and sometimes even longer lines at the cash register. Along with one of the finest crabcake dishes in the area, the pies and cheesecakes are notable. Breakfast, lunch & dinner, 7 days a week. Open 24 hours. No credit cards.

OLGA'S DINER Rtes 70 & 73, Marlton, 609-596-1700. For about 30 years, this landmark diner has been featuring Italian and Greek specialties, along with standard fare. Breakfast, lunch & dinner, 7 days. Open 24 hrs. V, MC, AX.

OREGON DINER 302 Oregon Ave, 462-5566. The cheeseburgers, creamed chipped beef and breakfast with good Italian sausage are popular. Counter is loaded with rich pastries and cookies. Breakfast, lunch & dinner, 7 days. Open 24 hrs. No credit cards.

PENROSE DINER 20th Street & Penrose Ave, 465-1097. Decent fare at a reasonable price has been the Penrose pride. Breakfast, lunch & dinner, 7 days. Open 24 hrs. No credit cards.

PONZIO'S KINGSWAY DINER Rte 70 & Ellisburg Circle, Cherry Hill, 609-428-4808. There's just about everything at this expansive diner, from Italian to Greek specialties. Breakfast, lunch & dinner, 7 days. All major cards.

QUAKER DINER 7241 Rising Sun Ave, 745-5055. Broiled halibut & prime rib are everyday standards. Breakfast, lunch & dinner, 7 days. Open 24 hrs Fris & Sats. No credit cards.

SOUTH STREET DINER 140 South St, 627-5258. Such Greek items as gyros and spinach pie are popular here. Breakfast, lunch & dinner, 7 days. Open 24 hrs. V, MC.

VINCENTOWN DINER Rtes 38 & 206, Vincentown, 609-267-3033. Blueberry farmers are as common here as blueberry pies in season. Greek specialties are popular, with gyros a standard and souvlakia featured. Breakfast, lunch & dinner, 7 days. V, MC, AX.

WHERE THE CROWDS GO

APROPOS 211 S Broad St, 546-4424. A great location and a view of Broad St

from the glass-enclosed cafe make this a popular spot. Food is prepared in trendy Southwestern style, with a Mediterranean touch. Pizzas and grilled fish and meats are served late into the night. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

CAFE NOLA 328 South St, 627-2590. New Orleans food caringly made and served in a trendy environment. A second dining room has been added, which gives some elbow room to the smallish restaurant. Expensive. Lunch, Weds-Sats. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

CAROLINA'S 261 S 20th St, 545-1000. A perennial in-spot. Consistently good regional American fare with a Southwestern emphasis, served in a small but comfortable dining room, while the friendly crowd imbibes next door. Reasonable. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

CUTTERS GRAND CAFE AND BAR, 2005 Market St, 851-6262. It seats about 175 in the restaurant and another 120 at the bar. It's popular. Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

DOWNEY'S Front & South Sts, 629-0526. This Irish-style restaurant features good steaks and chops. Also, lots of people. Moderate. Lunch, dinner & late- night snacks, Mons-Suns. Brunch, Sats and Suns. Major cards.

JAMEY'S 4417 Main St, 483-5354. Seafood, mesquite and imaginative American cuisine with a California touch. A good wine list complements the attentive service. Moderate. Lunch, Tues-Sats. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Brunch, Suns. AX, MC & V.

MARABELLA'S 1420 Locust St, 545-1845 (also in Blue Bell, at Skippack and Penllyn Pikes, 641-9100). It's young, alive and unpretentious, with everything

from pizzas to mussels, baked garlic & grilled chicken breast. Inexpensive. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. AX, MC & V.

METROPOLIS 1515 Locust St, 546-1515. It's casual and still standing-room- only many nights. Lots of glitz and glamour in both the decor and clientele. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

ODEON 114 S 12th St, 922-5875. Be prepared to be pampered. Fresh, quality ingredients are the nucleus of the artfully crafted dishes, whether they be duck breast, fish, crabcakes or any of the wonderful desserts. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. AX, MC, V.

TREETOPS Rittenhouse Condominium & Hotel, W Rittenhouse Sq, 546-9000. A newer entry in the stylish category. It's an upscale bistro with a decidedly informal atmosphere. Save room for the desserts. Moderate to expensive. Breakfast, 7 days. Lunch, Mons-Sats. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

VARALLI'S 1345 Locust St, 546-4200. Modestly priced cafe food, including grilled eggplant, pizzas and fresh pastas. Lunch and dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

FOR COUPLES

ALOUETTE 334 Bainbridge St, 629-1126. French-Thai cuisine served in a subdued atmosphere, as candlelight casts shadows on brick walls. Expensive. Lunch, Mons and Weds-Fris. Dinner, Weds-Mons. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

ASTRAL PLANE 1708 Lombard St, 546-6230. The faithful following includes customers who love returning to a time warp where the food is as eclectic as the arty decor. Dining upstairs and down. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

THE GARDEN 1617 Spruce St, 546-4455. A Philadelphia landmark with a soothing outdoor garden. Crisp-roasted duck, veal, rack of lamb and snails are some of the favorites. Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

LE PETIT CAFE 7026 Terminal Sq, Upper Darby, 352-8040. If you like duck, you'll love the crisp version (with or without sauce) at this small, intimate French restaurant with Italian overtones. Operated by a husband and wife: He cooks; she does desserts. No liquor license. Reservations. Moderate. Dinners, Tues-Sats. No cards.

NEIGHBORHOOD SPECIALS

JACK'S FIREHOUSE 2132 Fairmount Ave, 232-9000. Jack McDavid, of the Down Home Diner at the Reading Terminal Market, takes his country cooking upscale. Even the eel and roast chicken come dressed for dinner. Moderate to expensive. Dinner 7 days. V, MC, AX.

FRIDAY, SATURDAY & SUNDAY 261 S 21st St, 546-4232. Showed in the mid-'70s what restaurants would be serving in the '90s. Space is so tight, you literally rub elbows with those next to you. Food is consistently good, as is the service. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

LONDON RESTAURANT 2301 Fairmount St, 978-4545. New chef and a new menu specializing in creative contemporary cuisine. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

MEZZANOTTE 1701 Green St, 765-2777. Muted colors give this Fairmount restaurant a warm glow. It used to be called Mezzaluna, but by any name it does a very good job with its creative pizzas, tender mussels and pastas. Inexpensive. Lunch & dinner 7 days. AX, MC, V.

STAZI MILANO Jenkintown Station, Greenwood & West Aves, 885-9000. The Greenwood Grill goes Italian. An upbeat atmosphere offering reasonably priced dishes from polenta to risotto. Reasonable. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. V, MC, AX.

TAVERN ON GREEN 21st & Green Sts, 235-6767. Popular items include the grilled chicken and fish, as well as stir-fries, burgers, chili, vegetarian dishes. Moderate. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

SPECIAL OCCASIONS

CAFFE DiLULLO 7955 Oxford Ave, 725-6000. The trend-setting Northern Italian restaurant that some people said opened at the wrong time and place. It has gone on to prove itself right. Some say portions are small for the price. Expensive. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

LA FAMIGLIA 8 S Front St, 922-2803. Good Italian food in a plush, formal setting, with excellent wines to match. Strong points are the veal, pastas and sauces. However, you won't go wrong with the chicken or seafood dishes. Expensive. Lunch, Tues-Fris. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Major cards.

LA GROLLA 782 S 2d St, 627-7701. A great Queen Village Italian restaurant that has gained a reputation for its special dinners. A comfortable,

semiformal spot that has let its hair down to the point where no one notices if you slurp the delicious stracciatella soup. Expensive. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Major cards.

OSTERIA ROMANA 935 Ellsworth St, 271-9191. Roman-style dining is featured in small S Phila townhouse. Known for pig roasts and long, leisurely meals. Pasta dishes can be superb; the veal very good. Osso buco is a favorite, as are the mussels prepared in brandy. Expensive. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Major cards.

PALM The Bellevue, Broad and Walnut Streets, 546-7256. The newest entry on the city's steakhouse scene. Nearly a dozen Palms exist coast to coast, offering excellent steaks, chops, seafood, a la carte vegetables and caricatures of local celebs on the walls. Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

RISTORANTE PRIMAVERA 146 South St, 925-7832. Be prepared to wait, as the restaurant takes no reservations and doesn't seat many more than 30. But it's worth the wait for the wonderful pastas, sauces and the excellent chicken dishes. Moderate. Dinner, 7 days. No credit cards. (Also 384 W Lancaster Ave, Wayne, 254-0200. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. MC, V, AX)

THE SALOON 750 S 7th St, 627-1811. Not only a tradition for steaks and Italian dishes, but a classic study in consistency. Both floors are generally filled with loyal followers. Veal dishes predominate. The numerous pastas are perennial favorites. Expensive. Lunch, Tues-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. AX.

VERY SPECIAL OCCASIONS

DiLULLO CENTRO 1407 Locust St, 546-2000. The decor, with its panoramic murals, is, some say, spectacular. The food is equally imaginative and the wine list excellent. Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

THE FOUNTAIN Four Seasons Hotel, 18th St & the Parkway, 963-1500. A premier spot that puts to rest claims that hotel food is never up to snuff. Exemplary dining room in every respect. Worth the price. Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Sats. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

LE BEC-FIN 1523 Walnut St, 567-1000. What is there to say that hasn't already been said? A restaurant that knows how to do just about everything right. Each nuance gets sharp attention. Restaurant manages to please even under the most severe scrutiny. Reservations required. Expensive. Lunch, Mons- Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

SUSANNA FOO 1512 Walnut St, 545-2666. Imagination is the key word here. Delicious Chinese cuisine that can be both bold and subtle. Service is excellent. Expensive. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. AX, MC, V.

FOR ETHNIC TASTES

BERLENGAS ISLAND RESTAURANT 4926 N 5th St, 324-3240. Authentic Portuguese food served in a small restaurant with a grottolike atmosphere in city's old Portuguese neighborhood. Inexpensive. Lunch and dinner, Tues-Suns. No cards.

CHEF THEODORE Riverview Plaza, 1100 S Delaware Ave, 271-6800. Chef Theodore continues to do good things in his new, rambling dining room. A delicious time, from moussaka to Muzak. Now has a liquor license. Moderate. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Major cards.

EL KIBUK 4535 N 5th St, 324-7029. A new Cuban restaurant in the city's

Hispanic section catering to the locals. Good, authentic food. Reasonable. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. MC, V.

HOFFMANN HOUSE 1214 Sansom St, 925-2772. One of the few city restaurants offering German-style food. Game fare has become a specialty. Great atmosphere for the veal a la Holstein. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats. Major cards.

MACCABEAM 128 S 12th St, 922-5922. Middle Eastern food prepared by Israelis with an Iraqui background. Popular items inlcude Shawarma - barbecued turkey - and falafel dishes. Hamburgers and hot dogs available. Restaurant follows kosher laws; has no dairy products. Closed Fri evenings, all day Sats. Lunch, Suns-Fris. Dinner, Suns-Thus. V, MC & AX.

TAPAS 3d St & Girard Ave, 922-2376. Interesting and informal with Spanish dishes, including paella and tapas. Zarzuela de mariscos - deep dish of seafood - is a popular item. Reasonable. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats.

Closed Mons, July & Aug. MC, V.

TEQUILA'S 1511 Locust St, 546-0181. Good and authentic regional Mexican food. The quality of the food even extends to the obligatory nachos. No matter how busy it gets, you are never rushed. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, Mons-Sats; 7 days after Labor Day. Major cards.

THIRD ST. OUZO, 45 S 3d St, 625-8508. New, small Greek taverna with a menu that goes from gyros to soutzoukia. Art-Greco atmosphere. Reasonable. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. No cards.

ZOCALO 3600 Lancaster Ave, 895-0139. This new Mexican restaurant offers high-fashion appetizers, tacos, enchiladas and contemporary dishes. Nifty food in a nifty setting. Reasonable. Lunch, Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. MC, V.

ACROSS THE DELAWARE

BUCK TAVERN Rte 50, Corbin City, 609-628-2730. An interesting country spot with modestly priced dishes. The routine here is punctuated with such exotic dishes as sauteed frog legs and rattlesnake. Reasonable. Dinner, Thus-Mons. V, C.

DORON'S COUNTRY HOUSE 1521 Black Horse Pike, Turnersville, 609-629-7398. Formerly Cavanaugh's. Large, comfortable restaurant makes families feel welcome. Good, standard American and continental fare featuring steaks, chops and chicken dishes. Reasonable. Lunch, Mons-Sats. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

CHATEAU SILVANA 47 Medford-Mt Holly Rd (Rte 541), Medford, 609-654-1706. An old country-house restaurant, with fine reputation for well-prepared Northern Italian and country-French dishes. Several tables on the side porch look out on Burlington County's horse country. Expensive. Lunch Mons-Fris. Dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

THE INN AT SUGAR HILL 422 Atlantic Ave (Rte 559), Mays Landing, NJ, 609-625-2226. Elegant and extremely charming. It's at a huge turn in the Great Egg Harbor River. No liquor license; you may bring wine. Country French and country American. Expensive. Reservations requested. Dinner, 7 nights. MC, V, AX.

MAPLEWOOD 470 White Horse Pike, Hammonton, NJ, 609-561-9621. Appears to be crowded all the time. Menu, primarily Italian, with great pasta specialties, is in use throughout the day, with sandwiches added for lunch. Family- oriented. Reasonable. Lunch & dinner, 7 days. MC, V, AX.

SCARPINATO'S RISTORANTE 480 S Black Horse Pike, Blackwood, 609-227-4946. A small, intimate spot for fine regional Italian fare. The background opera music adds a lovely garnish. No liquor license; you may bring wine. Reasonable. Dinner Tues-Suns. Major cards.

SMITHVILLE INN Rte 9, Smithville, NJ, 609-652-7777. This colonial-style inn offers lots of seafood. Two popular items are chicken pot-pie and stuffed pork chops. Children's platters available. Moderate. Lunch, Mons-Sats. Dinner, 7 days. Brunch, Suns. Major cards.

STERN LIGHT INN II 48 Black Horse Pike, Folsom, NJ, 609-567-4499. Seafood is fresher here than at a lot of places along the shore. Prime rib is a featured special. Just south of Williamstown. Children's menu. Reasonable. Dinner, Tues-Suns. Major cards.

TULL'S 1503 Black Horse Pike, Cardiff, NJ, 609-641-6014. Large and usually crowded. Lines are long, but move fast. Wide, good variety of seafood is the big draw; not unusual to see diners tackling 8-pound lobsters. Reasonable. Lunch and dinner, 7 days. Major cards.

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