Soulful Italian Fare

Craig LaBan doesn’t have much bad to say about his trips to Girasole, the glitzy Italian restaurant just steps from the Avenue of the Arts, except for maybe some gripes about the price. But there is a three-course prix-fixe menu for $35 available every night but Saturday that mutes that complaint.

The most memorable flavors at Girasole, however, had a genuinely more homey touch. Even the complimentary opening nibbles – one night some delicate fritters of mashed potato, another night a creamy, herb-flecked mound of house-made ricotta – taste like someone’s mamma made them.

The pastas, in particular, were splendid. Delicate ribbons of house-made tagliatelle came tossed with shavings of fresh baby artichokes and smoky speck. The bucatini Girasole – essentially an amatriciana – wore the zest of rendered pancetta and a flicker of chile pepper in its fresh tomato sauce. There was an authentic seafood risotto filled with shellfish flavor (though a second try wasn’t quite as creamy and fully cooked as the first). My favorite, though, was Girasole’s twist on passatelli.

Two Bells – Very Good

Girasole [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Girasole [Official Site]