Slate Restaurant Preview

A beloved bartender and the former chef at Lolita give Rittenhouse a New American spot that won't break the bank

This Center City restaurant quietly opened almost two months ago right under our noses, but owner Laurentiu Muras already has a stable of regulars who know him from his barkeep days — he’s been serving drinks in Philadelphia for over 15 years. He did a nice job with the space — dark walls and flickering candles give it a mysterious and moody, BYO vibe, even though this restaurant is full-serve. (Muras is working on a signature drink list.)

For the kitchen, Muras tapped ex-Lolita chef Eric Paraskevas, who has added a touch of south-of-the-border to the small American menu. I was psyched to see a panzanella salad on the menu (although they call it a panzella), and it was the best thing I had. A sautéed chunk of just-warmed queso fresco was topped with soft cubes of garlicky bread, mild roasted peppers and a touch of truffle oil for $9. To his credit, our waiter told me that the fettuccini Alfredo entrée was rich, but the grilled skirt steak and fresh peas in it still called my name. The beef was wonderful (as was the runny egg), but the sauce wasn’t too rich, just too thick. The pork and cheddar sandwich had a nice flavor but with an off-putting mushy texture, although the sharp jolt from the pear slaw was a nice touch. But the best part was our bill — we got apps, entrees and a few drinks for $70.

Slate Restaurant, 102 South 21st Street (Rittenhouse Square area); 215-568-6886.