1312 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
I was excited over the moon to be able to eat here tonight. For the four years I lived in Philly, I had never been able to get a reservation before 9 PM at Vetri and so I’ve never eaten here before. I called 3 months in advance and out of the 3 Saturdays I was going to be in Philadelphia, only one of them had an availability before 10 PM. This is definitely the most exclusive restaurant in Philadelphia with seats only for 36 patrons. When I made the reservation, the hostess said that Friday and Saturday is Grand Chef Tasting menu only which means Chef Vetri will give you a hand-painted menu from which you can say what you love or something you don’t eat and then from there, he will decided what to send to your table.
We were the first ones there and so we got a nice cozy table in the corner. I loved the decor inside, it was peacefully rustic. As soon as we sat down, the hostess asked us if we would like to start with some complimentary Prosecco and hor d’ouerves while we looked over the menu. I think that is a genius idea, bring out some nibbles to munch on while we read over the menu.
We started off with a half bottle of Classico Chianti. I don’t know why in my head I imagined them bringing out a full bottle of wine and pouring only half. Made sense that they brought out this cute little bottle. I think we got about 5 glasses out of it which was the perfect amount for dinner for two.
Our first course which was appetizers was a huge plate with 5 little “appe-teasers” on them. Each about the size of 1/4 of my palm. This is definitely a quality over quantity type of place which was fine by me. Joe gave me a bite of his squid dish which was pretty good (that’s a huge compliment from a non-seafood person).
Then our second course came out which was the duck and raddichio crepe for Joe and the sweet onion crepe for me. Being a good couple, we each ate half and then traded plates (almost every table there was doing this). The sweet onion crepe was by far my favorite, combining my three favorite flavors in the world: cheese, truffle and caramelized onions. With my first bite, it was like a church choir group was singing “Hallelujah” on my tongue!
Our third course we each got a serving of the spinach gnocchi with ricotta salata. Joe said it was too rich for him but I was in love with it and gladly finished his. I am a huge fan gnocchi and therefore am pretty critical of it. The spinach gnocchi was amazing! So soft, it just melts in your mouth, and perfectly complimented by the brown butter. I cut one in half easily with my fork so that I could admire the grounded spinach by candle-light but Joe told me to hurry up and finish so he could see what would come out next.
Our fourth course, we each received a serving of mint pappardelle with lamb ragu. The infused mint gave it a very interesting flavor, making the dish more complex on the palate. The lamb was so tender that the only way I could pick it up was if I scooped it up with my fork. We both loved it! You could really appreciate the texture cuz it was hand-made pasta.
Our next course, Joe was brought the whole roasted baby goat and I received the Creekstone aged ribeye with bean medley. The ribeye was medium-rare and practically melting in your mouth. But the clear winner of the two was the roasted baby goat (I had some serious reservations about this dish but I got over it with my first crispy bite).
I was amazed by how spot on Chef Vetri’s selections for our table were, when I looked at the table next to us I noticed that their dishes were entirely different from ours. I had 2 thoughts come to my head: 1. thank God he sent the vegetarian main entrees to the other table and 2. is our table bugged? i felt underneath the table and didn’t feel any wires and then figured that with these tasting menu prices, he could probably afford wireless microphones.
Next we were asked if we would like to go straight into the dessert portion of the evening or would like a cheese platter. Without skipping a beat, I said cheese! We had 3 different types of cheeses, but I’ll only show my favorite, the Spanish goat cheese which had a strong flavor (my motto for cheese: the stinkier, the better). They served it with toasted bread and this house-made honey and orange marmalade which Joe was using the bread to dunk and then scrub the plate clean with. It was wonderfully sweet but not too sweet.
Then we were brought our first dessert, a milk gelato with hot espresso poured over it at the table. This was perfect because I was considering ordering coffee with my dessert. It was so delicious! The sweetness of the gelato complimented the bitter espresso flavor, making it similar to coffee ice cream (it was still cold as we ate it). This was another example of when I thought our table might be tapped, because it was only a few seconds before when I told Joe I’ll probably need to get some coffee after this meal and what is the first dessert that the waittress brings to our table? espresso!
Our second dessert, Joe was brought the lemon poppy seed cake with beet sorbet (unfortunately, neither of us were a fan of the strong poppy seed flavor), and I was brought a chocolate polenta souffle served with vanilla bean ice cream (even though this was super rich, we couldn’t get enough!) We were fighting over the last morsels of the chocolate-y goodness on my plate.
At this point we were getting extremely full and I think both of our jaws dropped when we saw the waittress bring out another plate(the waiters rotate all night so that you get a different person serving you each course). This plate showcased a bunch of different desserts: marshmallow covered in powder sugar, tiramisu, peanut butter fudge, peanut brittle and lemon gumdrops. All of which, of course, were delicious.
Being a good food blogger, I tried to write down everything we ate as they came out onto my iphone. Since I had never dined here before I didn’t realize that at the end of the night you get a goodie bag with a copy of the hand painted menu which made writing this blog entry so much easier. I love the bag! I’ll treasure it forever!
Now i’ve had some expensive meals in my life, (I’ve eaten at the 3 most expensive restaurants in Boston), but none of them compared to the $$/person for this meal. The tip alone for this meal cost more than any meal I’ve had at some of the more expensive restaurants in New Orleans. This was definitely a once in a life time meal that I’ll never forget. Best Italian restaurant in America, how could I not go? This chef is renown for his creativity and skill and rightly so, this had to be one of the best, if not THE best meal I’ve had in my life.