The Taste of Home
Artfully crafted cuisine and exceptional service entice diners both near and far to Floga Bistro in Kennett Square
by Bill Donahue

It’s Friday night in Kennett Square, and families seeking the comforts of good food and communal warmth are returning to a rather familiar haunt: Floga Bistro, a 100-seat BYOB known for its distinctive menu of bright, flavorful and freshly prepared dishes inspired by the cuisines of Italy and other parts of the Mediterranean.

Although the restaurant’s “regulars” include many who live nearby—Kennett Square, Chadds Ford, Concordville, etc.—some customers come from much farther afield. In fact, at least once a year, one couple in particular drives to Floga Bistro from as far away as Allentown—approximately 80 miles north of Kennett Square, or nearly two hours behind the wheel—to relive a charming experience that has become etched into their memories.

“Every year it’s the same: First the couple will go to Longwood Gardens, and then they come to our restaurant,” says Stacey, who co-owns Floga Bistro with her husband, George. “One time they came here just to see us, because they wanted to celebrate their anniversary someplace special. I think it’s because we really take care of all our customers. They come here to have homemade food like their grandmother’s, to have great service and enjoy a nice experience from start to finish.”

It’s easy to see why people throughout the region consider Floga Bistro one of their restaurants of choice. Drawn by the welcoming atmosphere created by the “Floga family,” diners come back to this cozy BYOB because they crave the delicious, made-to-order menu items crafted by the kitchen of longtime chef Christos Marchio.

Having honed his skills in the kitchens of prominent eateries in Philadelphia and Manhattan, Chef Marchio has been Floga Bistro’s head chef since the restaurant opened its doors in June 2008. The skilled yet humble chef, who is of Italian and Greek descent, brings his creativity to the restaurant’s menu of traditional favorites, which include everything from handmade pastas and artisanal pizzas to a host of artfully plated veal, chicken and seafood dishes.

“If you’re working in this business, you have to love what you do,” Chef Marchio says. “When I leave here to go home at the end of the day, my body is tired but my mind is alive because I know our customers walked out satisfied. You can’t cut corners if you want to do well in this business. If you come into my restaurant and I put a plate of food in front of you, it’s like I’m serving it to my mother. It has to be that good every time.”

According to Chef Marchio, the kitchen makes each dish from scratch, featuring organic produce grown by farms in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as well as seafood plucked from the coastal waters of Maryland. The list of locally harvested ingredients used in Floga Bistro’s dishes also includes mushrooms produced by farms in Kennett Square, otherwise known as the official “Mushroom Capital of the World.”

Chef Marchio’s love of cooking stretches back to his earliest days growing up in Italy. He came to America as a young boy and quickly found his way in the kitchen, learning at his father’s side. He started working in his father’s restaurant in Philadelphia, and ultimately went on to lead the kitchens of other respected restaurants throughout the Northeast.

“I always thought I would be a movie star, but I grew up watching my father and other people around me working in restaurants,” he admits. “When I started working in the kitchen with my father, I found that I liked the work, and I also discovered I was good at it. I knew I wanted to be a chef, because you can create things and you have to be an artist. Not everyone has that kind of touch. It didn’t take long for me to change my mind [about being an actor] and say, ‘This is what I want to do with my life.’

“Food is essential to life,” he continues. “At Floga Bistro, we buy only the best of the best, and each dish is 100 percent made to order, from the homemade soups to the fresh fish to the Alfredo sauce we use on our pasta. For the chicken Marsala, I use three to four cases of red wine per week, and this is some of the best wine you can find. If you use the best ingredients, it results in the best flavors.”

Chef Marchio’s favorite dish on the menu is the Mediterranean sea bass. For Stacey, she’s partial to the Pappardelle a la Toscana, a specialty dish starring homemade ribbon pasta cooked with sun-dried tomatoes, onions and those mushrooms Kennett Square has made famous, all served in a rich Marsala cream sauce. Customers rave about the housemade meatballs, according to Chef Marchio; he and his culinary team make as many as 800 meatballs per week.

“We’ve been here a long time, and people come here from Delaware, Maryland and areas across Pennsylvania,” Chef Marchio says. “They come back again and again because everything they taste is fresh and made from scratch. Nothing is ever lying around waiting to be plated.”

In addition to dishes featured on the wide-ranging menu, Floga Bistro offers seasonal specials throughout the week, including everything from braised osso bucco and boneless short ribs to pumpkin ravioli.

As the winter holidays near, Floga Bistro’s flourishing catering business will kick into high gear. The catering operation serves corporate and residential clients as far away as New Jersey, though most are located within 10 to 15 miles of the restaurant. The restaurant also boasts a semi-private space, capable of seating 40 to 45 people, for hosting holiday parties, as well as wedding rehearsals, baby showers and other special events.

Stacey, whose family formerly had two other successful restaurants—in Glen Mills and Old City Philadelphia, respectively—finds great joy in doing what Floga Bistro does every day: serving authentic, delicious and homemade food in an environment that makes guests feel welcome, even like part of the family.

“I come to work happy every day,” she says. “It’s a tough business sometimes, but it’s part of our family. We’re always friendly and professional, and so many of our customers become repeat customers because of our people. In addition to Chef Marchio and a lot of our kitchen staff, a lot of our servers have been with us for years. They know our customers by name and what our customers like to eat; they don’t even have to ask.

“Good food is the cornerstone of a good family,” she continues. “When people come here, they become part of our extended family. That’s why people keep coming back, and I think that’s true whether they’re from just down the street in Kennett Square or they’re from a couple hours away.”

Floga Bistro
826 E. Baltimore Pike
Kennett Square, PA 19348

Photograph by Nina Lea Photography