Take a step up from ordinary Italian

At Upstairs at Varalli, a classy Italian trattoria located at 1345 Locust St., you can’t help but be struck by dark lighting and the waterfall cascading down the wall, but what grabs your attention is the friendly hosts, who are excited about patrons’ arrivals.

Upstairs is darker and certainly more romantic than downstairs, and the small tables, grand piano and huge glass windows staring down the other tall buildings in Center City contribute to the classy atmosphere.

Not only was our waitress hustling, but the hostess even gave us all free dessert because the one that we ordered wasn’t available that night. Even though we were already getting a deal because of Restaurant Week promotions, they were eager to please us more.

Upstairs, the staff was genuine and caring, and everything about the restaurant, including the wait staff, exuded class. But they weren’t too sophisticated to be our friends.

The restaurant is perfect for a romantic night, but the prices will probably limit the restaurant to special nights only for most college students. Appetizers were all over $6; desserts about $8, and entrees are between $20 and $30, if not higher.

The portions are perfectly sized, and the presentation is attractive. The stuffed mushroom is one of the best appetizers.

The sweet fig sauce that blankets the sausage and mushrooms will have you leaving delighted.

For entrees, the fish of the day with shrimp and a salad is a healthy choice, and the veal marsala is mouth-watering. The garlic mashed potatoes melt on your tongue, while the veal is drenched in a wine sauce.

The desserts are slightly less satisfying, particularly in presentation, but for anyone craving chocolate, the chocolate pyramid is the perfect choice. The tartufo is another chocolate delight, a ball of chocolate and vanilla gelato sitting on whipped cream and topped with peanuts, crushed chocolates and strawberries.

Upstairs at Varalli is a classic and relaxed place, perfect for special occasions. Plus, the dishes are worth the pricey check at the end of the meal.

Morgan Ashenfelter can be reached at morgan.a@temple.edu.


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