The Love Is One of Esquire’s Best New Restaurants of 2018

Aimee Olexy and Stephen Starr's Rittenhouse collab got high marks for fresh ingredients and that fried chicken.

the love best new restaurants esquire

The Love | Photo by Alexandra Jones

Esquire magazine revealed its list of the 20 best new restaurants of 2018 today, and for the second year in a row, a Philly restaurant made the cut. (Palizzi Social Club scored an honorable mention on their 2017 list, since, you know, you need a membership to get in.)

This year, food and drinks editor Jeff Gordinier ranked the Love, Aimee Olexy and Stephen Starr’s luxe-yet-cozy Rittenhouse restaurant, at number 14 on the list. And it’s well deserved: Gordinier was wowed by the freshness of the ingredients (an Olexy signature), the vibrancy of the produce, and the fried chicken that also bowled over our critic.

And sure, the Love is a fantastic restaurant. It’s the best place to power lunch in Philly, and Olexy has reached a well-deserved new height in her career by packaging her refined-yet-funky, farm-to-table vibe in a way that will thrive in the city’s poshest restaurant district.

The pick just feels a little bit…obvious. Safe. Sort of like if La La Land had actually won the Best Picture Oscar over Moonlight last year. Especially when you consider that Gordinier bypassed Suraya, the city’s most anticipated restaurant opening this year, and Cadence, a boundary-pushing critical darling from chefs with an immaculate New American pedigree.

That said, we’re happy to see women restaurateurs on these big lists, and we appreciate the Love’s great food and gorgeous ambiance boosting Philly’s national profile as a dining powerhouse.