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 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.
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.
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.