Monday, June 16, 2008
1312 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Vetri is an intimate 10 table restaurant in Center City Philadelphia run by Marc Vetri. The Philadelphia Inquirer ranks it among the city’s top 5 restaurants, and there are some (including Mario Batali) who claim it be one of the best Italian restaurants in America.
Vetri is a haven for foodies.
If you are not serious about food and wine, you will be disappointed. You will think it is over priced. You will walk away confused.
If you are the type of person who would plan a vacation around a restaurant, then I suggest saving your pennies for a trip to Vetri (but start calling now, reservations need to be made at least a month in advance).
The food is unpretentious and delicious.
We started with cocktails and their famous charcuterie platter. A rustic wood block arrived with a variety of house cured meats, sherry-charred brussel sprouts, grilled fennel, house cured pickles, and other delicacies (including one that I can only describe as a savory zeppoli wrap in a paper thin sheet of sweet creamy lardo).
The house made bread is also worth noting. A silent little man with a bread basket seemed to appear out of nowhere to keep our bread dishes filled... and we were happy to oblige and eat slice after slice of crusty goodness dipped in oive oil while nibbling on house cured olives.
We left our wine selection in the hands of their fabulous sommelier. After he and C had a lengthy discussion on the qualities of various gins, we got down to what type of wine we were looking for. He disappeared for a moment and returned with what turned out to be a perfect bottle. I had written down the name, but sadly the scrap of paper disappeared by the time we got back to SC.
Other highlights of the evening included...
Warm salad of wilted greens with pancetta and egg
When this arrived, I was suprised to see the egg was actually a scrambled egg. I tasted with trepidation, but it was really really good. There was something acidic (a vinaigrette of some sort) which really tied it all together.
Spinach Gnocchi with shaved ricotta and brown butter
I would prefer if they called these "spinach dumplings" instead of gnocchi. Don't get me wrong, they were quite delicious, but their texture was a bit unexpected.
Guinea hen breast stuffed with foie gras and prosciutto
Wood fire roasted capretto (baby goat) with soft polenta
As much as Vetri is a restaurant, it's also a dining experience. The first floor of the converted row house is dark and intimate, and you can see the excited anticipation of the diners as they walk through the door. You quickly, without trying, get to know your fellow patrons due to the close quarters. Although the space is large enough for the 10 tables, they are squeezed a bit tighter in order to accomodate a beautiful (but large) hutch and antique espresso maker.
Would I go back? Yes. But there are so many more restaurants in Philadelphia, and I want to try them all, so it may be a while.
PE - you are truly a wonderful gastronomic tour guide and brother. We will definitely be back to do it again soon.