There’s a Spider-Man feel to sitting on the narrow balconies that cling to the edge of elegant Nineteen, on the 19th floor of the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue. The same sweeping vistas — rooftops from river to river, and, okay, a few air-conditioning units — are available in the pearl-strewn formal dining room, but here, there’s only a railing separating you from the view. On the table, impossibly ample appetizers make entrées almost unnecessary, particularly when the plates are piled with tender spears of white asparagus gilded with brown butter, and crisp-battered soft-shell crab with a sunny chutney that tastes of India. An unassuming but irresistible dessert of steamed lemon cake with poached rhubarb is a true taste of summer some 200 feet above Broad Street.
White, modern sofas set against billowing sheer white curtains give this second-floor Old City restaurant its immediate wow factor, as in, Wow, I feel like I’m on a tropical vacation. The food is Italian, but much lighter and more refined than Philly’s classic red gravy, and thus an ideal match for the breezy vibe. For years we’ve been raving about chef Pippo Lamberti’s “crudos du jour,” thinly sliced, delicately dressed raw fish dishes; they taste all the more refreshing when enjoyed in the outdoor lounge or open-walled front bar. Even better: happy hour’s $5 limoncello cocktails, bountiful $15 cheese plate, and charming off-the-boat Italian bartenders.