Philly's filled with Italian BYOs and one of the most attended has to be La Viola. In fact, it's so popular that a second location across the street was opened (La Viola West), where a more expanded and affordable menu is offered.
From what I hear, the West location also accepts credit cards unlike the original Bistro location.
The GF and I decided to go to the Bistro, mainly because we wanted to try the spinach gnocchi, which isn't offered at La Viola West. Being that it's a BYO, we brought along a bottle of prossecco. The dining area was a single room - homey and fit the bill for a Philly Italian BYO.
Bread service entailed nice, crusty Italian bread, along with olive oil-balsamic.
Insalata Trecolore ($9)
Radicchio, arugula, Belgian endive, shaved parmigiana, lemon dressing
The GF enjoyed the three color salad, which came with bitter radicchio, pepper arugula, Belgian endive, all lightly coated in a lemon vinaigrette and topped with huge slices of shaved parm. Not bad for under $10!
Pepperoni Arrosti ($9)
Homemade sweet roasted peppers, Gaeta olives, anchovies, EVOO
I opted for a heartier starter of homemade sweet roasted peppers, along with briny Gaeta olives and anchovies.
Gnocchi al Filetto di Pomodoro ($14)
Homemade spinach gnocchi, ricotta cheese, fresh tomato basil sauce
Obviously, Vetri, this was not. However, the gnocchi were pillowy and imbued with a light spinach essence. The tomato sauce on top was sweet and studded with fresh ricotta.
Penne alla Caruso ($14)
Pencil point pasta, vodka and tomato sauce, peas, pancetta
The penne were nicely al dente, with thick bits of pancetta that ate more like pepperoni. The sweet peas were a nice touch and I also appreciated that the vodka sauce didn't overly drench the pasta. But don't worry - there was plenty of leftover sauce to mop up with bread.
Vitello Pomodoro ($18)
Breaded veal cutlet, fresh mozzarella, plum tomatoes, tomato sauce
Sure the veal cutlet was huge, but sadly more than a bit dry and tough. Topped with mozzarella and plum tomatoes, this veal pomoro didn't do it for me. It lacked in flavor and execution. The dish also came with roasted potatoes and snap peas hidden underneath.
Faux pas be damned, the GF ended the meal with a cappuccino.
Overall, I can see why this Italian BYO is popular, especially with the younger demographic. While there were a few misses, it's affordable, the ingredients are fresh, and you get the sense that everything's homemade.