April 10, 2006

Philadelphia Restaurants Featured in Wine Spectator

This month’s issue of Wine Spectator features an article by John Mariani entitled “Old Meets New in Philadelphia.” According to the article, Philadelphia’s diverse neighborhoods are giving rise to some very personalized restaurants. Here are a few highlights:

  • Mariani focuses on four of Philadelphia’s finest: Barclay Prime, Bliss, Gayle and Striped Bass. And yes, he mentions BP’s infamous $100 American Wagyu cheese steak, which comes with (as he says) a “slab” of foie gras and a half-bottle of Veuve Clicot.

  • Mariani also gives a shout out to Farmicia, Estia, El Vez and Amada (an authentic tapas bar I’m looking forward to trying).

  • The article laments the cost of wine in some of the profiled restaurants. Mariani lays most of the blame for this on Pennsylvania’s restrictive state-controlled wine distribution system. I am glad Mariani gave the cost issue some attention. However, I think it needs to be put into context, which will do in a later post.

  • Mariani mentions having a glass of 2002 Mark West Pinot Noir Russian River Valley ($13) at Striped Bass, though it’s not clear whether he liked it. I recently had this wine (for less than $13 a glass, I believe) at two other Stephen Starr restaurants—Washington Square and The Continental at 2nd and Market—and I enjoyed it. I haven’t had enough of this wine to be able to write anything thoughtful about it; the PLCB will not be getting any more in (though it’s not clear that they ever really had any available for consumers) and the winery told me it’s all gone. I recommend hitting one of these Stephen Starr restaurants and trying a glass while they still have some left. My only advice is to ask them to put it in the proper glass. The Continental, unfortunately, served this wine in a chardonnay glass and it never had a chance to open up.

In addition, Wine Spectator’s feature article, “The New Italian Cuisine,” profiles, among others, Philadelphia’s chef Marc Vetri of Vetri Ristorante for his innovative approach to Italian food. Also, Chef Vetri shares his recipe for Asparagus Crespelle with Balsamella Sauce.

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