Three Bells for Palladino’s

The Kobe Ribeye at Palladino's | Photo via Palladino's

The Kobe Ribeye at Palladino’s | Photo via Palladino’s

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]
Palladino’s [Foobooz]

Two Retro Reviews from the Weeklies

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Olde Bar | Photo by Arthur Etchells

 

Brian Freedman visits Olde Bar for Philadelphia Weekly while Adam Erace reviews Franky Bradley’s for City Paper. Freedman is in love with the fried clams at Jose Garces’s redone Bookbinders and he’s even more impressed with the redo.

The Olde Bar is a Jose Garces project—the kitchen is helmed by Chef de Cuisine Mike Siegel—but it feels different from his other restaurants around town. Indeed, in his attempt to honor the legendary space, he has accomplished something both difficult and important: Bringing the past into the present, without peddling in either preciousness or hokey nostalgia. The Olde Bar feels both classic and vibrant at once, just like that fried clam.

Read more »

Restaurant Review: Lo Spiedo

Photo by Steve Legato

Photo by Steve Legato

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 »

Two Bells for Capofitto

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Craig LaBan reviews Capofitto, the new artisan pizza spot in Old City from the team behind Capogiro. He finds the new pizzeria is just what the historic neighborhood needs.

I know, I know. More pizza. Just what Philadelphia needed. But if it’s created with as much dedication to craft as Stephanie and John Reitano bring, one as good as Capofitto can represent a quality-of-life improvement. And these two bring the same commitment to the details of authenticity that elevates the gelati at their Capogiro chain far beyond mere ice cream.

Two Bells – Very Good

Capofitto is a welcome addition to Old City [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Capofitto [Foobooz]

Restaurant Review: Juniper Commons

Juniper Commons | Photos by Michael Persico

Juniper Commons | Photos by Michael Persico

At Juniper Commons, where old newspaper headlines paper two walls in a triumph of microfilm and selective memory, there’s electricity in the air.

E. GERMANY OPENS BORDERS

SURGERY OVER, REAGAN IN CHARGE

PHILLIES RULE THE WORLD

Lionel Richie’s on the radio — along with Air Supply and Hall & Oates, all those smooth synthesizers washing over the occasional drum-machine downbeat of early LL Cool J. Votive candles flicker in amber ashtrays beneath globe lights fed by telephone-coil wire, and the lounge area goes back to the future with wingback chairs out of the Jetsons’ living room. Read more »

First Bite: Nom Wah Tea Parlor

nom-wah-tea-parlor-delivery-940Nom Wah Tea Parlor kind of opened today. The New York based dim sum spot has a Philadelphia location at 218 N 13th Street and the kitchen is ready, even if the dining room isn’t. So they’ve begun offering delivery via Caviar.

Since we were intrigued and figured you would be too, we placed a late lunch order. In just under 50 minutes our order was at the front desk.

Read more »

The Revisit: Serpico

Serpico photo courtesy the anagramatic Mike Persico

Serpico photo courtesy of the anagramatic Mike Persico

There’s only so much a clean bathroom can tell you about a restaurant, but every now and then they speak volumes.

To face the poster of Olivia Newton-John wearing her “Physical” gear in the Juniper Commons men’s room is to know, conclusively, that there’s no escaping the 1980s there. The inexplicably unflattering powder-room lighting at the late, unlamented Avance — which had inherited perfectly good illumination from Le Bec-Fin — encapsulated the misguided priorities that sank the place. Even the community chalkboards lining Crow & The Pitcher’s facilities testify to that restaurant’s yearning to be adopted by a neighborhood that’s never really rallied behind a tenant at that address. (And where else but Miami Beach could have a setup like this?) Read more »

One Bell for Fishtown’s Girard

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The burger at Girard was one of the things Craig LaBan did like.

Craig LaBan savages Girard, the BYO on Girard Avenue that made headlines before it even opened, with its no-tipping policy. LaBan found poor execution and something even more surprising, a line on the check for tips.

But too many dishes failed to connect good ideas to a plate of complete success. Oliveira’s signature omelet was textbook perfect, stuffed with avocado, creamy cheddar and bacon. But the side of charred grapefruit, grilled face down (letting the sugar fall off) instead of brûléed with a torch, was bitterly burnt. The lamb ragu had an intriguing daube-like inflection of olives and orange, but was literally braised to a mush that was poorly paired with doughy gnocchi. A torchon of foie gras, usually a luxuriously creamy disk of delicately poached liver, was an off-tasting smudge of tan butter on toast overwhelmed by a thicker smudge of fig jam for $13.

One Bell – Hit or Miss

Bold but confusing Girard Brasserie and Bruncherie in Fishtown [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Girard [Foobooz]

Two Bells for George Sabatino’s Aldine

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Photo by Emily Teel (who gets a great shoutout in the review)

There is more than one kind of two-bell review. The surprisingly good neighborhood joint, the disappointing debut of a big-name chef and in the case of George Sabatino’s Aldine, a two-bell review going in the right direction.

Craig LaBan’s review sees progress in several dishes over just a couple of months. And others are already there.

Dishes such as the lamb rillettes, its tender milk-braised meat shredded and formed into a crispy cake over silky Hubbard squash puree sparking with red chile heat, evoke both visual beauty and a deep satisfaction of soulful flavors. Sabatino’s clever crudo deconstruction of the ubiquitous sesame-crusted tuna – raw tuna sashimi brightened with blood orange, fennel crackers and sesame seeds – was like tasting Mediterranean sun.

Two Bells – Very Good

For George Sabatino, years of experiments paying off at Aldine [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Aldine
 [Foobooz]

Where We’re Eating: V Street, Tuk Tuk Real and Stock

Spicy Dan Dan Noodles from V Street | Photo by Chloe Berk

Spicy Dan Dan Noodles from V Street | Photo by Chloe Berk

V Street
126  S 18th Street
Rittenhouse Square
215-278-7943

Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby aren’t the first res- taurateurs to summon night- market memories with bare bulbs strung beneath a black ceiling. But the globetrotting vegans behind Vedge have uncorked an unusually pent- up desire for street snacks at this energetic offshoot of their stately mother ship.

But eat here and you can feel how long the pressure’s been building to yank every taco and noodle bowl into the meat-and-dairy-free realm. Read more »

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