New Main & Vine bistro poised to crush it in Villanova

July 24th 2018

Main & Vine is Wine Country come to us – dishes from Monterey to Mendocino, a West Coast wine and craft-beer list, even a long, winery-style tasting table in a private alcove.

Talk about Napa know how.

On the menu: Starters ($8 – $13), Sociables for sharing ($15 – $20); From The Vine salads ($11 -$14), Mains ($20 – $30), Napa-style Sourdough Pizzas ($15 – $17) and “The Family Table” of regular nightly specials ($20 – $29).

Wines are West Coast but all over the place, price-wise: House pours are $7, Prestige Pours (including The Prisoner) are $22 – $26, but most are $9 – $13.

A few Main & Vine faves we devoured:

The virtuous, lovely (and “sociable”) Vegetable Crudités ($15) accompanied by three Golden State-centric dips: avocado green goddess, Point Reyes blue cheese and beet hummus.

The chicken-fried oysters with bearnaise aioli ($12)

The Wild Isles (sustainable) salmon ($27) and the black grape & blue cheese sourdough pizza with hazelnuts, rosemary and local honey ($16).

Fun fact: Pizza is theater here. Twelve seats surround a pizza chef and oven, the sole remnant from former occupants Maia and Avenue Kitchen.

Note to late-night munchers: The Pizza bar stays open until 1 on weekends and midnight weekdays.

Main & Vine Operating Partner Jay Stevens, Chef Charles Vogt and General Manager Ray Pouncy.

What’s sort of shocking: This is operating partner Jay Stevens’ first restaurant. A boy from the Northeast who always liked to cook, he broke into the biz as a dishwasher at age 12. Among other places, he’s managed at Parc and Morimoto in Philly, Dettera in Ambler, the Freight House in Doylestown, and most recently, Morton’s in King of Prussia.

He and wife Kylene (who’s a QVC model) have a soft spot for all things Californian:

French Laundry, Chez Panisse, sunny winery “pizza decks,” cozy vineyard tasting rooms.

Hence, the sourdough bread and crispy pizza crust (where toppings are generously spread end to end), the Oakland-bred Rocky Road pudding, the liberal sprinkling of California figs and walnuts.

The vibe too – from New Hope’s Gacek Design Group – is an earth-meets-sky mod mix with intentional touches of Villanova blue.

Seems Stevens has carefully cultivated every last vine. He deliberately partnered with Kim Strengari (Conshy Girls restaurateur) because of her Main Line connections. He put his servers in blue, subtly signaling “Wildcats welcome here.” He even handpicked the eclectic playlist that pumps in the lounge.

At Main & Vine, you can spend a little (relatively speaking) or you can spend a lot. Your call.

“My goal is to feed a wealth of people, not just wealthy people,” says Stevens, who turned away reservations over busy graduation weekend because he didn’t want to overwhelm the staff. “I’ve waited 32 years to do this; I need to get it right.”