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Restaurant Review: Manayunk's Tomato Bistro

Couch Tomato's upscale upstairs bistro, the Tomato Bistro offers up small plates, delicious pizzas and even free valet parking in Manayunk.

Restaurant: Tomato Bistro

Address: 102 Rector St., 2nd floor, Manaynuk, PA 19127

Rating: (out of 5 stars): ★★★1/2
Style: Upscale bistro
Food: Small plates, salads, sandwiches and pizzas
Atmosphere: Warm and welcoming
Parking: Valet or street parking
Service: Friendly
Price Range: Moderate
Unique Feature: This place offers free valet parking and pours wine by the glass or half glass.

As a long time fan of the , I was curious how the more upscale Tomato Bistro would turn out. Though the fancier sister restaurant opened only a few weeks ago, the food was fairly good and the ambiance warm and welcoming. The vibe is casual but definitely more refined than the Couch Tomato. The selection of small plates was extensive and regardless of your dining preferences, it is easy to find something delicious to eat. There are fried artichokes, pasta dishes, meat selections, pizzas, soups and salads.

I settled at the bar for a later lunch and perused the menu and wine list. I was particularly struck by the option to have a half glass of wine as well as the numerous beverage flights that were offered. For those that need a bit more guidance, there are wine pairing suggestions for many of the menu items. I chose a glass of Barbera which was a nice easy drinking red.

I began with the sweet potato bisque which was laced with so many spices that it actually smelled liked curry. I suspect it was cumin and perhaps some nutmeg or clove. This soup was thick and savory with a rich earthy color. Nicely seasoned and served piping hot, this soup was enjoyable and I appreciated the crunch from the croutons on the side. Be warned that the soup comes in a mug and not a bowl so it is insufficient for a complete lunch.

I couldn’t resist ordering a Margherita pizza as I love the dough they use. The generously portioned thin crust pizza arrived steaming hot with thick layers of melted mozzarella, ribbons of freshly chopped basil and San Marzano tomato sauce. The crust was as good as ever with a wonderful crunch to it. The tomato sauce was bright and flavorful. The cheese was creamy and delicious. I might have added a dash of salt and pepper to the pie but otherwise it was wonderful.

The service was fairly good. My server was young, friendly and laid back. He wasn’t the most attentive but I suspect that was due to the fact that he was busy juggling a few tables. As Tomato Bistro is still a relatively new restaurant I understand there are still some growing pains and periods of adjustment. I am confident that the bistro will grow to become a mainstay of Main Street in the future. It’s a welcome addition to the dining scene offering a wide variety of dishes, interesting wines and beer and even complimentary valet parking. Any one familiar with the neighborhood knows that free parking alone is worth the visit but thankfully for us that is only the beginning.

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