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Chester County Press

Kennett chef takes his talents and tastes up the road

07/19/2017 02:08PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

Ask any restaurateur or executive chef what he or she wants to achieve in opening a new restaurant, and the answer is likely to include transforming a place of forks, knives and recipes into home.
For the past several years, executive chef Jack Mavraj and his brother Sam have cultivated a sense of home in their successful Kennett Square restaurant, La Verona, where thousands of local families and patrons have gone to embark on a temporary journey to the tastes of Old World Italy. Dining at the State Street landmark has become less a dining experience than it is “eating over at Jack and Sam's place.”
“Sam and I have tried to create a restaurant with friends and family in mind -- a place where everybody can come in, and not just on special occasions,” Mavraj said. “La Verona has become a home where friends and family can taste great wines, be a part of a fun atmosphere, and of course, enjoy the best food. And now, we've added one more home for everyone to enjoy.”
Bartolino Italian Steakhouse and Seafood, which opened in the Crossroads Shopping Center in nearby Glen Mills last month, gathers all of the tantalizing dishes Mavraj has cultivated at La Verona and moves them slightly north. But this time, it's not just Mavraj's talents, but those of an all-star lineup of chefs. Throughout his 25 years in the restaurant industry, executive chef David Robinson has brought his talents to restaurants in Baltimore and Philadelphia, Duling Kurtz in Exton and the Dilworthtown Inn in West Chester.
Sous chef Wayne Barnard brings nearly 30 years of restaurant experience to Bardolino, including a stint as the head chef at The Blue Pear in West Chester.  Together with general manager Alan Hudson and business partner Phil Wenrich, Mavraj has created a dream team of ideas and innovation.
The dinner menu at Bardolino is a tantalizing array of Mavraj's signature seafood and pasta dishes, such as seared Chilean bass, and bourbon-glazed shrimp and scallops blended with the sizzle of Robinson's T-bone steak, Dr. Pepper short ribs, aged New York strip, grilled Delmonico steak and center cut filet mignon. Every Wednesday, Bardolino features its prime rib of beef special – rib of beef slow roasted au jus, with baked potato, asparagus and horseradish sauce.
“We start and end with quality,” Robinson said. “Jack gets the best beef we can get our hands on, and it's up to us not to mess it up. We tweak it with our own sauces, but we let the beef taste come through, blended with Jack's house-made pastas, and all of his influences.”
What visit to an Italian steakhouse is complete without a full wine menu? Bardolino takes the visitor to every wine region on the globe, with a generous offering of white, red, rose and sparkling wines.
The name of the new restaurant is not by accident, Mavraj said.
“Bardolino, Italy, is located just north of Verona, and it's the same concept here – our new restaurant is located just north of our Kennett Square restaurant,” he said. “Sam and I are lucky to have so many wonderful people working with us, and we look forward to working with them for a long time.”
Bardolino Italian Steakhouse and Seafood is in the Crossroads Shopping Center (1102 Baltimore Pike, Glen Mills), and is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, beginning at 11 a.m. An 80-seat private dining room is available, and pianist Jack Marshall performs every Saturday evening. Visit To make reservations, call 484-574-8811.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email