Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Trattoria Carina Review

From the folks that brought you the acclaimed Pub & Kitchen, Trattoria Carina is a casual Italian gem found in the Fitler Square-Rittenhouse area. And it may be our new go-to spot, right on the corner of 22nd and Spruce. This "Little Darling" has a small menu, but it's big on flavor and execution, all under the execution of Chef Melissa McGrath. And recently, Trattoria Carina has expanded to include brunch on the weekends! 

Fitler Square-Rittenhouse gem Trattoria Carina has added brunch!

To start our day, the GF and I enjoyed a citrusy-bitter Aperol Spritz and a sweet-and-spicy Bloody Mary, complete with a solid antipasti skewer! And including its bar program, Trattoria Carina is reportedly BYO (no corkage!). 

Gold Rush Apple Cake [$6]

 The apple cake is a must. Moist, soft, and buttery within, the grilled exterior helped to provide a nicely crisp textural contrast. Perfect to drape with some of that salted butter. 

Warm Castle Valley Polenta [$9]
Honey mascarpone, walnut granola, Concord grape

A unique take on typically savory polenta, we enjoyed the sweet acidity afforded by the Concord grape jam. Studded with plenty of the walnut granola and a bit of the honey mascarpone, this is a nice reprieve from any savory items you might order during brunch! 

Bucatini Carbonara [$23]
Bacon, Parmesan 

Savory, you say? How do you come to Trattoria Carina and not order the carbonara? Thick bucatini noodles are appropriately coated in egg yolk, plenty of Parm, and with a nice hit of black pepper. Interspersed throughout are salty nuggets of slab bacon. No need for any heavy cream here, folks. Trattoria Carina is doing it right.

Baked Eggs All'Amatriciana [$14]
Guanciale, Parmesan, Lost Bread Co. focaccia 

The smell emanating from this dish almost made me put my camera away. Almost. But as the GF likes to joke, the camera eats first. In a spiced up take on shakshuka, the savoriness of the "gravy" was perfect to dip the Lost Bread co. focaccia in. And as my fellow Master of None fans might say, "it's all bout that guanciale." The salty, fatty hits of the cured meat really made each bite. If only I could have had more bread (not that I asked!). 

So if you're looking for a new spot to hit up for brunch, please check out Trattoria Carina. Along with the delicious dishes, you'll get great service. In fact, ask for Bill if he's available. I know I'll be back soon for dinner! The angry crab pasta Craig LaBan raved about it is already calling my name. 

FTC Disclaimer: Special thanks to Trattoria Carina for having us in. Regardless, my opinions are mine alone and, therefore, unbiased. 

Trattoria Carina
2201 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 732-5818

Sunday, September 30, 2018

P.J. Clarke's Philadelphia Review

It took two and a half year's for P.J. Clarke's to open its doors in Philly, but based on the design and popularity when we stopped by, it was well worth the wait. Housed in the Curtis Center on 6th and Walnut, it's surprisingly sprawling, with plenty of dark wood throughout. Whether you want to dine in or simply grab a seat at the raw bar, P.J Clarke's has got you covered, especially with Chef Ned Maddock in as Executive Chef (Brigantessa, XIX). 

Aperol Spritz [Top Right] | Negroni [Bottom Left]

Our drinks were made well, with the GF's aperol spritz providing that slight bitter essence, with the floral orange notes really coming through. I was all about the Negroni, made with The Botanist, an Islay gin. There's a real emphasis on G+T's & whiskey at P.J. Clarke's, which is certainly on trend. 

Sea Bass Ceviche
Tart 3 Spring Apples, Radish, Jalapeno

We started off our meal with the ceviche, which featured fresh and snappy sea bass, tart apples, and radish. Mix away as you'll want all of the seasoning to immerse each bite. 

Maine Lobster Cocktail
Firecracker sauce

The lobster cocktail is a showstopper and a must. Perfectly cooked, meaty, and completely dispatched for you, lobster doesn't get easier (or tastier). Add in some of theTabasco to the Firecracker sauce - it's a bit sweet, with the faint hint of horseradish coming through.

The "Cadillac" Burger
Double-smoked country bacon, onion, American cheese, bread & butter pickles

A bit of miscommunication as my burger came unadorned, but nothing the kitchen couldn't fix in no time flat. The fries were on point - salty, crisp on the exterior and creamy within. 

Seared Sea Scallops
Toasted farro, celery root puree, lemon

Scallops were plump, sweet, and with a light sear. I appreciated the texture on the farro, with a creamy celery root puree and fennel rounding things out. The spritz of lemon really brightened out each bite. 

Bacon & Peas Mac n Cheese

The mac n cheese was everything I could have wanted in a side. Crisp, smoky bacon and sweet peas were interspersed throughout, with a substantive richness clinging to each bite of the cavatappi noodles.  

Dottie's Blondie Sundae
Magic Shell & whipped cream

Dottie's Blondie Sundae is a stunner. The blondie itself was hefty in its own right, perhaps to withstand the vanilla ice cream hidden within the chocolate shell. Decadent, rich, and a great sweet treat to end the meal. 

Beyond lunch and dinner, be on the look out for Happy Hour & Game Day specials. I can definitely see the raw bar being the ideal spot to grab a stool and slurp back a few dozen oysters. 

FTC Disclaimer: Thanks to P.J Clarke's for inviting us in. Regardless, my opinions are mine alone and therefore, unbiased.

P.J. Clarke's Philadelphia
601 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Friday, September 14, 2018

Iron Hill Brewery Center City is Open!

Iron Hill Brewery just expanded to bring craft brews to Market East! And with this, they maintain the stance that nothing's more local than beer that's brewed ten feet from your table. 

Owners Kevin Finn, Mark Edelson, and Kevin Davies note that Iron Hill is more than just a craft brewery and a scratch kitchen. In fact, their motto is "Craft Kitchen, Scratch Brewery." 

Flight of Iron Hill Craft Beers | First Pour with the Founders, Brew Master, Chef, & Management | Cheesesteak Eggrolls

After popping in for a media event, we were invited to stop by for a soft-open dinner. 

Hot Chicken Sliders | Bourbon King Stout 

I knew I had to start off with the bourbon king stout. This was definitely right up my alley - great chocolate and bourbon notes here. Paired up with the hot chicken sliders - I was very happy. The chicken was Crispy, with spicy cayenne notes. But the sweet bread & butter pickles really made it each bite. 

Gold Medal Baby Back Ribs

With a sweet Bedotter Ale BBQ glaze, I appreciated that these ribs weren't overly sauced and the spice rub came through. Fall apart tender, these were easily enjoyed. Fries were well-seasoned and had just enough crisp to enjoy the texture. 

Drunk Monk Burger

The Drunk Monk Burger was right up my alley, especially with the addition of the fried egg. Perfectly medium rare and with a well-seasoned crust, the burger was amped up by the rosemary truffle aioli and creamy brie. The Wee Heavy Ale caramelized onions provided additional depth along with the mushrooms. Pro-tip: ask for extra napkins! 

Bourbon Pecan Ice Cream

So if you're looking for craft brews and good eats, be sure to stop by Iron Hill Brewery. I'd highly recommend popping in for Happy Hour as well - especially if those hot chicken sliders are on the menu! 

Iron Hill Center City
1150 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107