Belrose Featured in Play Magazine!

Posted on Wednesday, December 27, 2006



Check out the latest issue of Play Magazine and see what writer Anthony Layser had to say about one of the Main Line’s favorite restaurants! 

Carlo DeMarco has created a recipe for success at 333 Belrose.


Restaurants go belly-up all the time, so the recipe for making a successful one seems like it would be pretty complex. Not so for 333 Belrose chef and co-owner Carlo DeMarco.

“I think to execute things properly and consistently, simplicity certainly helps,” says DeMarco. “We initially start out with simple thoughts and they evolve into things that have more components, but it’s important to start out simply.”

From Belrose’s tri-colored logo of a fork spearing an olive to its unassuming locale away from the Lancaster Avenue corridor on tiny Belrose Lane in Radnor, there’s nothing pretentious or convoluted about this bar and grill. Housed in a converted stable dating back to Colonial times and lit with a rich golden glow, the restaurant’s aesthetic charms immediately put a diner at ease. Clearly though, it is DeMarco’s inventive menu that’s kept the eatery opened for business since August 1999.

Recently, the chef conjured up a winter menu, which is quite a departure from what’s served during the warmer months of the year. Boasting pepper-crusted filet, lamb loin and caramelized duck-breast entrées, DeMarco has stepped away from what has been a heavily seafood-themed menu.

“It has a level of richness that’s different from the summer menu,” says the chef. “There’s significantly more fish during the summer. We use more bur blanc-oriented sauces or salsas in the summer versus the veal reductions or lamb reductions we use during the winter.”

Meanwhile, the java pork tenderloin continues to be a favorite of regulars. Accompanied by maple-smashed yams, mango-jalapeño salsa and black-bean sauce, the signature dish is savory, without being overly heavy. It’s a mainstay at Belrose, despite the efforts of its creator.

“I was getting pretty tired of making the java pork and needed a break from it,” recalls DeMarco. “We pulled it off and ended up having a lot of complaints. People would sit down, see it missing from the menu, get up and leave. I was like, ‘That’s absurd. I’ve got plenty of terrific things on the menu and I can custom make anything.’ But people are particular, so I brought it back.”

Before demanding the java pork, appetizers like the hot garlic grilled oysters and the crispy salt and pepper calamari, honored as Best Calamari by Main Line Today magazine, make for perfect lead-ins. Other items to stimulate the palette include the roasted butternut and cider bisque and the butter lettuce and apple with champagne vinaigrette salad.

Though these selections and the ambiance definitely tend toward fine dining, DeMarco and his partner, veteran restaurateur Rob Donaldson, have made the Belrose experience reasonably priced. Entrées range from the mid to upper $20s, and including tip, patrons can expect to pay $50-60 per person for dinner. Having grown up in the Villanova area, DeMarco set out wanting to cater to more than just the most discriminating customers.

“I wanted to open a neighborhood restaurant,” he says. “I wanted a very nice place to dine, but for it to be also somewhat casual as well.”

Surprising considering DeMarco’s resume includes stints at some very high-end eateries on both the East and West coasts. After earning a degree from the Culinary Institute of America, the chef honed his skills at various San Francisco-area restaurants and locally at Bridget Foy’s and Le Bec-Fin. DeMarco remembers his apprenticeship under legendary chef George Perrier at Le Bec-Fin having a significant effect on him.

“It’s like boot camp in that kitchen,” laughs DeMarco. “I literally had an upset stomach my first couple shifts until I figured out where I could keep out of [Perrier’s] way and learn at the same time. But he put work ethic in your mind and taught that you’re not going to sit on your ass and become a good chef. You’ve got to get out there and work. If you have to scrub pots and dishes, you do it, because it’s whatever it takes to run your kitchen well.”

The Malvern resident has stuck to the lessons he learned from Perrier and then some. His schedule regularly involves 12-14 hour days that start before 7am. DeMarco credits his and Donaldson’s hands-on approach as the predominant reason 333 Belrose has prospered.

“My partner and I are in here everyday. We’re always working hard and talking to our customers and becoming part of the community,” says DeMarco. “I come in at 6:45 a.m. and I won’t leave until 9:30 at night. I could change that, but I choose to do that so I can make sure people are getting the experience they pay for here. Plus, my name’s on it and I don’t want to be embarrassed. There’s a lot of pride involved.”

Sounds simple enough — pride and hard work equal success. But serving a killer java pork goes a long way as well.

333 Belrose Bar and Grill
333 Belrose Lane
Radnor, PA 19087