Established as part of the Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran’s revitalization of the 13th and Chestnut Streets of Center City, Jamonera belongs to a family of impressive restaurants in the neighborhood including Wharton favorites Barbuzzo and Lolita. Walking into the restaurant, unlike Barbuzzo’s bustling atmosphere or Lolita’s festive feel, Jamonera has a distinct feeling of an older, calmer crowd. Barely lit with its red, dark lights, the restaurant has a distinct intimate feel that screams the place was designed for a romantic date night and nothing else. Too small to fit a large group of rowdy kids and too dark for just a causal outing with friends, Jamonera definitely screamed “I got to impress my [insert-online-dating-service-here] date.”
If you go to Jamonera, definitely listen to the staff’s recommendations. The wait staff outperforms with their deep knowledge of dishes and on point, yet affordable recommendations of dishes and wines. Our waitress knew every ingredient of the dish, down to the ingredients in the asparagus puree buried underneath the scallops.
Jamonera delivered fast, efficient, and friendly service.
Food: for a chef’s tastings of the menu, I was disappointed that the dishes chosen were hits and misses. Crowd favorites such as the Papa Fritas and the Warm Medjool Dates did not blow me away. In fact, dates and bacon, usually a favorite of mine, were ill matched in the way Jamonera cooked it. Instead of the flavors melting together, both the dates and the bacon tasted distinctly off in their combination of sweet and savory. While the heavy hitters disappointed, hidden gems of the restaurant included the Wedding of Anchoa, a perfectly fresh and wine combined bruschetta-esque dish topped with roasted peppers, pesto, and anchovies, and Berenjenas, the luxuriously tasting crispy eggplant fries with truffle honey. For the main course, the scallops were well done with perfectly crispy outsides without over-cooking the inside. While they were nothing special, the perfectly executed scallops do always make a great main course.
While the place is perfectly respectable for taking an online date, I would recommend its more formidable cousins such as Barbuzzo or Lolita for special occasions and bigger groups.
Ambiance: 3 stars
Service: 4.5 stars
Food: 3 stars
Overall: 3 stars
Location: 105 South 13th Street, near Chestnut St
Recommended Dishes: Berenjenas, Wedding of Anchoas, and Seared Scallops