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Valley Forge Ristorante & Pizzeria
1130 Valley Forge Road
Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
(610) 935-7579

Tucked away in a mini strip-mall, there is absolutely no question that this restaurant's utilitarian exterior belies the interesting happenings beyond the threshold. And, just to add to the mix, the establishment also has a dual personality of sorts. Drop by on the weekend for a pizza to go or a quick bite and the place is likely to be busier than the King of Prussia Mall on Black Friday. On a quiet week night, on the other hand, bathed in soft shadows and the light emanating from the semi-open kitchen, the place seems to bask in a decidedly romantic aura.

Trouble is... you can't depend on that aura. Loosely translated: No matter what day you decide to pay a call, you're most likely to find the joint jumpin'. So I'd forget any quixotic notions you may have been entertaining and just go with the flow. This is a family place... loud, friendly, bustling, and usually populated by progeny of every age, shape, and behavioral disposition... ditto the adults.

But, hey, the service is young & enthusiastic, the price is right, and the food is damn good. This is Italian comfort fare, pure and simple, and it is turned out in well prepared generous portions. So unless you have the appetite of a ravening hyena, you will undoubtedly reap the gastronomic (and monetary) benefits of at least one (perhaps two) additional chow-downs from the leftovers.

Pastas are immensely popular. And there's a list as long as your arm, including those incorporating a variety of veal, chicken, and seafood variations. The plebeian eggplant Parm, for example, has just enough crisp breading, nice coating of cheese, rich and robust marinara, and a mountainous side of spaghetti. And oil & garlic fans have a nice match with the angel hair pasta and infusion of crumbled sausage. Guaranteed to keep the vampires away for months.

Pizzas - sporting thick but marvelously crispy crusts - are also big here. And they come in small (10"), large (14"), and giant (18") renditions. You may create your own individually-styled pizza utilizing as many toppings as you desire or go with one of the establishment's specialty pies. You might opt for the "Valley Forge Special" (pepperoni, mushrooms, sausage, chopped beef, olives, green peppers, and onions) or, perhaps, the "Greek Style" (tomatoes instead of sauce, onions, green peppers, mushroom, spinach, and a blend of feta and pizza cheeses).

Individual salads are also available, along with luscious homemade soups, strombolies & calzones, tortilla grinders, and variety sandwiches & hoagies. So whether you stop in for lunch, dinner, or an afternoon snack, you're sure to find something to please your palate.

Desserts - all shipped in from off campus - are, in my opinion, completely superfluous to the enterprise. If you wish to indulge, however, the turtle cheesecake is rich and decadent, the tiramisu smooth and velvety, and the Italian lemon cake appropriately creamy.

There are numerous Italian eateries out there promoting the same basic tried & true gastronomic formula... but Valley Forge Ristorante & Pizzeria is definitely a cut above the crowd. Highly recommended. Just don't forget to BYOB.

The Artful Diner
December 2008

The Artful Diner is an independent, freelance food writer.  His latest review and an archive of past reviews for restaurants around the country and the world can be found on this site on the REVIEWS page.

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