Great Expectations: Pizzeria Vetri Reviewed

Rotolo | Courtney Apple

Rotolo | Courtney Apple

Trey Popp comes to Pizzeria Vetri with great expectations but too many of the pizzas literally flopped.

The further away I got from the pizza menu, though, the better Pizzeria Vetri got. There are lovely salads: arugula and roasted fingerlings slathered with killer pesto, and a “wood oven” salad that’s a belly-filling medley of corn, chanterelles, blistered green beans and top-drawer ham, studded with ricotta salata. There’s exceptionally fresh-tasting kegged wine from the Gotham Project, and bottled sloe-gin fizzes and Americanos that serve two for $12. The rotolos are instantly the best savory pastry in town: crispy pizza dough coiled Cinnabon-style around mortadella and ricotta, doused with pistachio pesto.

Two Stars – Good

Restaurant Review: The Best Food at Pizzeria Vetri Isn’t the Pizza [Philadelphia Magazine]
Pizzeria Vetri [Official Site]

Little Nonna’s Takes Comfort Food To the Next Level

Spaghetti and meatballs at Little Nonna's | Photo by Jason Varney

Spaghetti and meatballs at Little Nonna’s | Photo by Jason Varney

Trey Popp finds that Marcie Turney has breathed new life into red-gravy Italian at Little Nonna’s.

Just to be safe, though, order the polenta and meatballs to share; Turney packs her cornmeal with enough cream, taleggio, fontina and parmesan to put the most shameless cheese grits to shame. And you’ll want to have room at dinner’s far end for pastry chef Sara May’s spumoni, which ditches the usual neon palette in favor of a moody sundae richly muddled with roasted cherries, chocolate pizzelles and pistachio-olive oil.

Three Stars – Excellent

Restaurant Review: Next-Level Comfort Food at Little Nonna’s [Philadelphia Magazine]
Little Nonna’s [Foobooz]

Mistral in Princeton Gets Two “Very Good” Reviews

mistral-interior-940

Mistral in Princeton lands reviews in the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer this week. Scott Anderson and business partner, Stephen Distler who also on Elements in Princeton, opened the BYOB in May with Ben Nerenhausen as the chef de cuisine. Both the Times’ Fran Schumer and the Inquirer’s Craig LaBan gave the Mistral a “very good” rating. Both highlighted the octopus and scallops. LaBan definitely had problems with service (they lost his reservation on one occasion) or he might have even rated it higher.

Small Plates, and a Taste of Many Cultures [New York Times]
Mistral helps put Princeton in culinary Ivy League [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Mistral [Philadelphia Magazine]

Talula’s Daily Reviewed

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Late Summer Farmstead Collection | Photo by Courtney Apple

Trey Popp says it’s a shame that Talula’s Daily’s chef Scott Megill’s dinner was interrupted by a sales pitch.

But somewhere before dessert and the individually tailored cheese course, our cheerful waitress broke the enchantment of Aimee Olexy’s ode to homespun coziness by delivering what you’d have to call a sales pitch. Everything on the table, she divulged, was a product for sale by Anthropologie.

Two-and-a-half stars – Good to Excellent

Philadelphia Restaurant Review: Talula’s Daily [Philadelphia Magazine]

Talula’s Daily [Philadelphia Magazine]

Pizzeria Vetri Is Serious About Pizza

pizzeria-vetri-reviewed-margarita-pizzaAdam Erace reviews Marc Vetri’s temple of pizza, Pizzeria Vetri, and comes away impressed.

They all begin with a dough that eschews oil, per Neapolitan doctrine, and cooks up with a crisp crust and soft but structured center. Most follow with an aurora of the bright, tangy tomato sauce, then a collection of toppings, like house-made sausage, mozzarella, roasted fennel and fennel fronds. That pie, the Salsiccia, was great, but I liked the straightforward Margherita even better.

The shiniest new addition to the Vetri Family is turning out serious pies [City Paper]
Pizzeria Vetri [Foobooz]

Execution Woes Doom Tiffin Bistro

tiffin-bistro-sloppy-joe

Indian Sloppy Joe sliders were another hit

Craig LaBan has problems with the service and execution at Munish Narula’s Tiffin Bistro in South Philadelphia.

[T]he Bistro has an air of the unattended stepchild, with a menu executed by line cooks whose efforts seem adequate for takeout, but not much more.

There are definitely some worthy highlights, especially with the starters. The chaat of fried baby eggplants drizzled with yogurt and multihued chutneys is a novel twist on the crunchy-creamy-tart chaat salad craze that’s finally taking hold locally. The cauliflower bezule, florets crisped in chickpea batter, then glazed in creamy coconut and mustard seed, are a hearty taste of South India.

One Bell – Hit-or-miss

Dining Review: Tiffin Bistro [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Tiffin Bistro [Facebook]

Where We’re Eating: Farmer’s Road Drive Thru

FarmersRoad_Website_Slideshow2

There is something endearingly goofy to me about operations that try to make us feel better about our terrible eating habits simply by attempting to make the foods we shove in our snack holes healthier for us. At Farmer’s Road, they make the argument that it isn’t the drive-thru itself that’s bad, but the stuff generally available there. Here, you can order a breakfast sandwich made with all-natural eggs, a whole-wheat bun and locally sourced scrapple, or a stadium hot dog made with an all-natural grass-fed beef dog, low-sodium mustard, low-sodium sauerkraut and a rye pretzel hot-dog roll, with sweet-potato chips on the side, a vanilla-protein-and-skim-milk root-beer float to quench your thirst, and vegan krispy-rice treats for dessert. There are salads, edamame,
burgers and wraps, bento boxes for the kids … and the surprising thing about the place is that nothing tastes as tiresome as the menu seems determined to make it sound.

Farmer’s Road Drive Thru
210 Painter’s Crossing, Village at Painter’s Crossing Shopping Center
Chadds Ford, PA
610-558-2220

First appeared in the September, 2013 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

Redemption at Twisted Tail

twisted-tail-neal-santos

Adam Erace returns to Twisted Tail two years after its opening and finds the addition of chef Leo Forneas has made the Southern restaurant and bar, a destination worth checking out for more than just the bourbon and shuffleboard.

Back for dinner, he [Leo Forneas] redeemed himself with an array of vibrant tapas cooked on the Maine hardwood charcoal-powered grill: strips of smoky veal bacon in a garland of pickled red onion; tender marinated quail whose dainty legs I dragged through tomatillo chimichurri; lime-splashed pork-belly squares not unlike the kind Forneas ate as a kid in the Philippines. Forneas comes from a family of food people. His grandfather owns a butcher shop, his grandmother a fishing boat. The chef is at his best when pulling from his heritage, connecting dots between the tropical island of his youth and the American South of his imagination — dots that seem to surprise even him.

Once disappointing, the Twisted Tail makes good with a new chef [City Paper]
Twisted Tail [Official Site]

Photo by Neal Santos

Where We’re Eating: Tiffin Bistro

tiffin-bistro-sloppy-joe

If Munish Narula’s Indian food empire has left you feeling like Goldilocks in the popular fairy tale, Tiffin Bistro might be just right. A step down in glitz from Tashan and more than a step up in style from the less formal Tiffin, Tiffin Bistro provides approachable Indian food in a white-tablecloth space. Highlights include the pepper crab, a promising rendition of chicken tikka Masala, the kitschy Indian Sloppy Joe (which is much better than the gimmick it suggests) and the chicken tellicherry pepper—chunks of boneless chicken with a sauce that heats up with each bite. Overall, Tiffin Bistro will satisfy your Indian craving, especially for South Philadelphians who remain just outside the original Tiffin’s delivery range.

Tiffin Bistro
1100 Federal Street
215-468-0104

First appeared in the September, 2013 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

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