Brigantessa’s New Tasting Menu Offers A Tour of Sicily

BrigantessaThis week, Brigantessa premiered their new series of Southern Italian Tasting Menus, “Cucina Tipica,” created by chef and co-owner Joe Cicala.

Each month, he plans to focus on traditional flavors from a different region of Italy including, Sicilia, Sardinia, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata and Calabria.

Cicala’s first tasting menu will offer a four-course culinary tour of Sicilia for $45 a person with an optional $20 beverage pairing including selections from the restaurants cellar full of regional Italian wine, beer, grappa and amari.

We’ve got some details on the menu below.

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Brigantessa Introduces New Chef de Cuisine

Julia Robinson, chef de cuisine at Brigantessa

Julia Robinson, chef de cuisine at Brigantessa

Chef/Owner Joe Cicala and Brigantessa are officially welcoming Julia Robinson as chef de cuisine to the East Passyunk restaurant with a  wine dinner. Robinson started at Brigantessa in June after two years as chef de cuisine at the White Dog Cafe in University City and a six-year run at Vivere, a third-generation family-owned Italian restaurant in Chicago.

The Delaware native is showing off her work with a chef’s tasting menu with unusual Italian wine pairings on Wednesday, September 16th. The four-course, three wine and one digestivo dinner is $75 per person.

Summer additions and wine dinner menu »

Summer Movie Nights At Le Virtu


New movie screen at Le Virtu


Le Virtu has always been a kind of physical love letter to Abruzzo. From the food (natch) to the overall aesthetic of the place, it’s always been about transporting diners from here to somewhere else in a way that few other restaurants can really pull off.

And now, they’re taking things a step further with the re-launch of summer movie nights in the garden.

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6ABC’s Alicia Vitarelli to Spotlight 3 Philly Restaurants on The Chew


Alicia Vitarelli with Le Virtu with a cameraman and Brigantessa chef Joe Cicala (far right)

Set your DVR: At 1 pm this afternoon, 6ABC Action News anchor Alicia Vitarelli will appear on The Chew, where she’ll take the show’s crew to three local restaurants with family-influenced recipes on the menu. The segment will find her visiting South Street West dessert queen Holly Ricciardi of Magpie, a Jose Garces spot and Joe Cicala of East Passyunk’s Le Virtu and Brigantessa.

Foobooz has more on the actual food they’ll be preparing here.


Vitarelli with Magpie owner Holly Ricciardi (center).


Watch: Philly Food Crew on the Chew Today

Best Italian Restaurants in Philadelphia: Pasta at Le Virtu

Joe Cicala making his pasta alla mugnaia | Photo by Jason Varney

Le Virtu’s Joe Cicala, Jose Garces and Holly Ricciardi (Magpie) will be on ABC’s The Chew today. Cicala will be showing off his single strand pasta alla mugnaia, while Garces makes a ceviche and Ricciardi bakes her butterscotch bourbon pie.

Tune in at 1 p.m. (or set your DVR) to see the whole crew repping Philly.

The Chew [Official]

Brigantessa Is Rolling Out New Pizza Shapes

brigantessa-secret-pizzaBecause round is boring? Joe Cicala is rolling out an “underground” selection of his Neapolitan pizzas that will come in playful shapes at his Brigantessa. These pizza shapes are kind of the Lucky Charms marshmallows of the pizza world. Check out Brigantessa’s video where chef Cicala creates the Stella (star shaped) pizza with points stuffed with sheep’s milk ricotta and the Racchetta rolled on one end and stuffed with ricotta. Both of these odd shaped pizzas appear on the menu. Other shapes are only available by customers who are in the know.

More on the secret shapes »

Spring Events At Brigantessa and Le Virtu

Photo by Emily Teel

Photo by Emily Teel

It’s proving to be a busy month at Le Virtu and Brigantessa, especially for chef Joe Cicala. For the start of the spring season, the two restaurants are hosting a variety of events lasting until April 30th. We already mentioned the Scott Schroeder spuntini takeover happening on April 2, but here’s a round-up of what else is happening at the sister restaurants.

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New Menu Items At Le Virtu


Beginning February 2, Le Virtu will offer daily-changing polentas with house-made ragus. The polentas can be served in individual portions as well as family-style for the table to share. The family-style portion must be ordered 24 hours in advance and will cost $15 per person. The ragus the polentas will be served with will change daily reflecting seasonal ingredients and the kitchen’s specialties.

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You’re Doing It Wrong: Joe Cicala Teaches Us How To Eat Real Neapolitan Pizza


So you guys know all about Brigantessa by this point, right? Joe Cicala‘s new place on East Passyunk? His ode to Neapolitan street food and super-authentic pizza?

Yeah, well apparently what he’s trying to do at Brigantessa (which includes, among other things, being the first DOC-certified Neapolitan pizzeria in Philly which involves following a whole bunch of rules made by Italians to govern what is and is not a proper pizza) is confusing some folks. So he’s put out a video all about his oven, his pizzas, the right way to make a Neapolitan pie and the right way to eat them. In addition to being instructional, it’s also full of slo-mo pizza porn and lots of loving shots of that imported pizza oven, so be aware: Maybe don’t watch it until after you’ve had lunch.

Hardcore Pizza Porn, right this way

Le Virtu’s 40-Course Dinner Is Upon Us

Joe Cicala at La Panarda | Photo by Alex Tewfik

Joe Cicala at La Panarda | Photo by Alex Tewfik

Le Virtu’s 2014 La Panarda is finally upon us. The feast will be a momentous 40-course tasting menu inspired by Italy’s Abruzzo region, paired with nine regional wines from Chieti Province’s Cantina Frentana and The Artisan’s Cellar.

Beginning at 12 p.m. on December 14th, guests of La Panarda will enjoy hours of dishes prepared by chef Joe Cicala and a communal atmosphere. Last year’s Panarda proved to be an awesome success, attracting attention from the Washington Post and Italy as well.

The cost of the meal is $275 per person, and requires a deposit by Monday, November 24th to secure a spot. To make a reservation for the feast, call Le Virtu at 215-271-5626.

The 2014 Panarda menu will be announced in the coming weeks.

Check out our post about the epic 2013 Panarda here.

Le Virtu [Foobooz]

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