This Spring, Drexel University’s Center for Hospitality and Sport Management is hosting a series of events including a wine pairing event with the New York Times Eric Asimov, a Di Bruno Bros. cheese seminar, a pasta dinner in honor of Drexel’s new Arcobaleno Pasta Lab, and a preview of Joncarl Lachman’s Neuf.
Craig LaBan finds that Luke Palladino has managed to find an unfilled niche in Italian-loaded South Philadelphia. At Palladino’s, there are excellent steaks, focaccia di Recco that LaBan predicts will become one of the most sought after plates in the city, and other dishes that stand out.
Among my other favorites were a juicy duck sausage roasted with pickled grapes over goat-cheese-whipped polenta; the baked crepselle rolled around wild mushrooms enriched with Taleggio; a refined casino take on oysters (instead of clams) that roasted those mollusks to perfection. A house-extruded pasta was the secret al dente weapon that elevated the spaghetti alle vongole with tender cockles in flavorful broth to another level.
Three Bells – Excellent
Palladino’s in South Philly: Northern Italian with a chop-house twist [Philadelphia Inquirer]
It was no surprise that the Navy Yard’s Saturday-night gate guard greeted my car with wry amusement. Given all the restaurants in all the neighborhoods of Philly, who picks one in a deserted office park half a forlorn mile from the nearest SEPTA station? I wish I could have seen him later when a sleek SUV limo rolled up, blinker flashing for Lo Spiedo.
The Vetri Family’s latest restaurant may profit most from its location at lunch, when this resurgent hub teems with some 11,500 workers. But it can also thank Uber, which no doubt delivered many of the customers who filled this stately brick building in after-dark Nowheresville with Center City-level weekend energy. Read more »
It’s a high-stakes pizza game in Wayne on the Main Line. Craig LaBan notes ten spots within a few blocks in downtown Wayne that are serving up pizza. In LaBan’s review of Ardé Osteria & Pizzeria, he reveals that the Regina Margherita at neighboring Vecchia is one of the best now in the region. As for Ardé, things are a bit more dicey though the Inquirer critic sees potential.
My first visit to Ardé was odd in many respects, beginning with the fact that our pizzas were delivered unexpectedly as a late third-course between entrees and dessert. Either way, they were thoroughly scorched, the coveted leoparding of dark spots having swollen into a charry inner-tube of briquette-sized puffs crumbling black dust over every bite. The delicate harmony of tangy San Marzano tomatoes and sweet mozzarella was overwhelmed. A similarly burnt “mais” pie topped with incinerated corn had other issues, with half the crust refusing to rise and a noticeably salty afterburn.
One Bell – Hit-or-Miss
Craig LaBan reviews the Navy Yard’s Lo Spiedo. LaBan enjoys much of the menu but inconsistencies have him wondering if the South Broad Street restaurant can be the magnet that Marc Vetri’s Osteria is on North Broad.
The meats and seafood are obviously the main event, and each brimmed with a zest of the live-fire.
The spit-roasted octopus, in contrast to the roll, was magnificent undressed on the plate, its long, tender arms kissed with little more than olive oil, lemon and char. The spice-rubbed brisket was also superbly rendered, moist and infused with smoke. But I preferred it as a composed sandwich, chopped on toasted bread with slaw and horseradish, rather than as a lonely hunk in a pan, as it is offered in the entrée section.
Two Bells – Very Good
Lo Spiedo: Go for the wings, stay for the octopus arms [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Lo Spiedo [Foobooz]
Rob Wasserman, owner of Rouge and 500 Degrees, has announced his plan to turn his Saint James into a family friendly pizza restaurant called Parlor Pizza Bar in early March. The restaurant will be located at Saint James used to be, at 30 Parking Plaza in Ardmore.
Parlor Pizza Bar’s menu will center around artisan wood fired pizzas, as well as pastas and salads intended for families and groups. The restaurant will also be serving draft wines by the glass, with reasonably priced options starting at $6 a glass.
Otto Architects is remodeling the space, bringing in a crimson and gray palette. A Ferrari red pizza oven imported from Modena, Italy will be the focal point of the dining room.
Parlor Pizza Bar [Foobooz]
We expect a lot from restaurants these days. If they don’t transform liquids into powders or barrel-steep cocktails with homemade bitters, they’d better serve chickens that roamed freer than our children do. So when a forneria bowls you over even before the door whooshes shut as you enter, it’s time to ask what really matters most.
I’m not the only winter-bitten soul to feel that way crossing the threshold of Brigantessa, where great blasts of heat from a Vesuvian-ash pizza oven ripple along a bar teeming with platters of sausage-stuffed long hots and oil-poached swordfish and wood-grilled octopus salad. Chef Joe Cicala’s sophomore effort on Passyunk Avenue has been rollicking since it opened in October.
Gran Caffe L’Aquila opened a week ago at 1716 Chestnut Street. The bi-level space is open from morning to night, offering Italian coffee, pastries, gelato, panini, wine and more. The restaurant shares more than just the name with the Abruzzo Gran Caffe L’Aquila. Local restaurateur Riccardo Longo has brought in World Cup of Gelato winner Stefano Biasini and Michele Morelli in on the project. They ran the Gran Caffe in L’Aquila, Italy, that was heavily damaged by an earthquake in 2009.
Upon entering the downstairs space you’re greeted with a gelato counter with 24 flavors. Beyond that is a coffee and pastries bar, followed by a panini case. Next to those options are the drinks and the cashier. In the back is an Italian-style (no seats) bar for enjoying wine and a bite. The opposite wall offers seating in two-and-four-tops.
Adam Erace has a new favorite Vetri restaurant and it’s Lo Spiedo. The newly opened restaurant at the southern end of Broad Street impresses the City Paper critic with its cocktails, its burger and its pasta. Surprisingly, he isn’t in love with the entrees that come off Lo Spiedo’s namesake spit but he has does have praise for other dishes coming off chef Scott Calhoun’s wood-fired grill.
Scott Calhoun is a stud that deserves as much of the credit as his mentor. I couldn’t quit the Lancaster native’s smoky spit-roasted cabbage in a crock of Gorgonzola fonduta, or the sponge of cornbread soaked in rotisserie drippings. Al dente rigatoni tossed with spit-roasted tomato sauce and ricotta salata had such depth of flavor, I barely believed him when he told me it was vegetarian.
Vetri’s latest, Lo Spiedo is firing on all cylinders at the Navy Yard [City Paper]
Lo Spiedo [Foobooz]