Tag Archives: Italian

Modo Mio menu turista

barbabietola

barbabietola

I’ve been trying to get to Modo Mio for months and months, but circumstances keep thwarting me. When I finally made it, I decided to go with the menu turista – the “tourist” or pre fix menu – in order to sample as many dishes as possible. Above the the barbabietola, an antipasti of roasted beets, toasted almonds, baby arugula, anchovy (which they kindly left off for me) and a truffle vinaigrette. It was a revelation! Why haven’t I been putting truffle oil on my baby greens? I started at home immediately. Beets perfectly roasted, and everything salted a little extra (I suspect) due to the absence of anchovies. Perfect.

tortelloni

tortelloni

I could eat pasta all day, but limited myself to one course, the butternut squash tortelloni with sage butter. The butter was perfect, the filling perhaps a tad too sweet (more like pie than squash), but overall well executed.

rabe

rabe

You can never have too many vegetables. We added a side of broccoli rabe, which I’m usually not into, but was let bitter than usual, with a healthy dose of garlic and oil.

pepperoni

pepperoni

The pepperoni, a melrose pepper stuffed with polenta and served with a saffron mayo and a sprinkle of montasio (similar to queso fresco) cheese was lovely. Who doesn’t love a breaded and fried pepper? And it had never crossed my mind to stuff peppers with polenta. Now it will.

fig tart

fig tart

I’m usually uninterested in dolce, but it comes with the menu. I ordered a fig tart with marscapone. The figs were fresh, lightly glazed and delicious, but the tart crust was stiff and gummy. I ate the figs off, and left the rest.

Modo Mio is a small and very popular establishment, full even on weekdays. Certainly make a reservation if you plan to go, and enjoy the intimate space (and lovely antique buffet table that holds linens and serves as a giant bread board). And go ahead and order the turista menu – at $33 it’s a delicious steal. Add BYOB status, and I can’t wait to take friends and out-of-town guests!

<a href=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/21/255213/restaurant/Northern-Liberties/Modo-Mio-Philadelphia”><img alt=”Modo Mio on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/logo/255213/minilogo.gif&#8221; style=”border:none;width:104px;height:15px” /></a>

Victor Cafe, a musical rendezvous

victor1

My parents were visiting from Indiana, so I took them (and Senor Lanky) to Victor Cafe in South Philadelphia. Known as a “musical rendezvous” spot since it opened in 1933, the entire waitstaff at Victor are opera students who break into song, while the restaurant guests listen. It’s definitely an experience out of the ordinary!

the Victor Salad

the Victor Salad

Senor Lanky and I split the Victor salad – field greens, tomato wedges, boiled egg and gorgonzola cheese. I love egg and gargonzola together.

Ravioli Tita Ruffo

Ravioli Tita Ruffo

I ordered the Ravioli Tita Ruffo, filled with porcini mushrooms and coated in a very rich Gorgonzola Cheese Sauce, sprinkled with pine nuts and fresh tomato. A healthy dose of fresh-ground pepper, and this pasta was very comforting, incredibly filling, and pleasant. They serve pretty basic Italian food, with a surprising number of vegetarian options. Everyone enjoyed their meals though the menu nothing more exciting than you can get elsewhere in South Philly, or at one of the city’s great Italian BYOBs. But that’s not the point. You go to Victor for the amazing atmosphere (every wall surface is covered with photos and painting of opera singers and the tin ceiling is beautiful) and the song.

Victor Cafe on Urbanspoon

A Quiet Night at Mr. Martino’s

White Bean Soup

White Bean Soup

Senor Lanky had been out of town in frigid Chicago, and when I went to pick him up at the airport, I want to go to a nice, quiet, romantic little BYOB. I read review after review, and settled on Mr. Martino’s, a little couple-owned restaurant, only open a few days a week, in South Philly. It was the perfect choice. From the moment we walked in the door, we were entirely charmed by the dark room with carved wood panelling, bistro chairs, and dented wood tables. The music with the perfect pitch, the lights were low, or wine was served in little juice glasses. I started with the white bean soup, and never has something with so little color packed such a flavorful punch. I could have feasted this lightly salted rosemary broth with perfectly slow-roasted white beans  all night!

Roasted Red Peppers

Roasted Red Peppers

Roasted red peppers and olive oil, with just a sliver of basil, were perhaps a bit overpriced at $6, but we slathered them on complementary loaf of crusty bread, and some more olive oil. Yum.

Arugula Salad

Arugula Salad

Senor Lanky had the bitter arugula salad, lightly dressed with olive oil and lemon, and a few shavings or parmesan. It almost made-up for his lack of vegetables the last few days in Chicago.

Spinach Ravioli with Pumpkin Sauce

Spinach Ravioli with Pumpkin Sauce

I was really suprised to see so many vegetarian options on the small menu at a traditional Italian restuarant. While I could have ordered any one of them, I eventually decided on the “special”  spinach ravioli with pumpkin sauce. The ravioli itself was light on the spinach and heavy on the ricotta, and the sauce was quite sweet with a touch of cream and a generous sprinkle of nutmeg. The entire dish was richer than I expected it to be, but it was a warming comfort food. While the food at Mr. Martino’s isn’t revolutionary, it’s afforadable and comforting and quite good. The atmosphere – like you’ve been suddenly transported to the set of Lady and the Tramp (but in Italy) is something really special.

La Locanda Del Ghiottone

baguette and bead spread

baguette and bead spread

I”ve been wanting to go to this restaurant ever since I smelled the garlic wafting out the front door during my first First Friday in Philadelphia. I finally talked Senor Lanky  into going with me. While it was packed, we were able to make a 9PM reservation, were seated promptly when we arrived, and were treated to great service throughout the meal.

We started with the sesame seeded baguette, with a mild, oily, white bean and garlic spread. I was starving by 9pm, so I probably gobbled more of this than I should have.

Crepine Con Funghi

Crepine Con Funghi

I ordered the crepine con funghi, buckwheat crepes filled with mushrooms and topped with what they call a “nutmeg sauce.” I’d call it a cream sauce, with some nutmeg. It was increadibly rich and tasty. I wanted Senor Lanky to share it with me, but he only had eyes for the crab cakes with scallops, so I had to eat most of this myself. He did, later, aknowlege that mine had been the superior appetizer.

Fettucino all Gntica

Fettucino all Gntica

Unfortunately, La Locanda is a  little low on vegetarian options. Wanting to avoid another cream sauce (and thereby the spinach gnocchi, which looked wonderful), I order the fettucino all gntica,  pasta with sauted eggplant, fresh basil, and almond bread crumbs. The eggplant was peeled and very soft, forming a sauce with the basil. This was a very comforting, if not terribly exciting dish – sort of like the mac & cheese of Italian food, perhaps?

As you can see, it was a very carb heavy meal, and with a bottle of wine, dessert was out of the question. We rolled ourselves out of the door with half of my pasta, happy. My only complaint is that the pasta courses, especially for primi, are quite expensive (around $20) and HUGE. But we liked the food and romantic yet boisterous atmosphere, and will be back.

La Locanda Ristorante on Urbanspoon

La Viola

After a long day of suit shopping for the incredibly difficult-to-fit boyfriend at Macy’s, on Thanksgiving weekend, I was in need of some immediate, delicious, comfort food. I’ve been meaning to go to La Viola for years, and, having only ever heard mostly wonderful things, had even recommended it to friends without a visit (I know, not best practices). Finally making it in for dinner myself, I was not disappointed.

We picked up a tasty Grenache at the wine and spirits store down the street, and were lucky, unfashionably early enough, to walk in without a reservation. La Viola is dim, and warm, and filled to capacity with a diverse crowd. We had to squeeze ourselves into the center of two other two-tops, but everyone was friendly and generous about getting up to let us slip by. We began the meal with a basket of very hot, very crusty homemade french bread with an balsamic vinegar, fresh rosemary and olive oil dipping bowl. I started with the Funghi Trentino – porcini shitakiand portbello mushrooms in a garlic basil and olive oil sauce.

La Viola's Funghi Trentino

La Viola's Funghi Trentino


Mushroom lover that I am, I was in heaven. The prima portion was huge enough that I was able to share, and mopped up all the delicious sauce at the end with another slice of bread, just because I couldn’t help myself.
Gnocchi Al Filletto Di Pomodoro

Gnocchi Al Filletto Di Pomodoro


I ordered the Gnocchi Al Filletto Di Pomodoro, a homemade spinach gnocchi with tomato basil sauce and fresh ricotta cheese. Gnocchi, delicious gnocchi.The pasta was startlingly light and pillowly, perfectly sauced, and salty ricotta chunks, sliced and eaten with every bit, added just enough bite. I finished with a dark coffee, black, and a few bites of the house tiramisu. I’m not really into dessert, but compared to the rest of the meal, dessert with only “good.”

At it’s affordable, BYOB prices, and with such delicious, comforting Italian food and impeccable service (especially in such a tight space) I understand why has loyal regulars.

La Viola on Urbanspoon