Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lo Spiedo Review

This is for a series of posts for the Vetri family of restaurants including: Lo Spiedo, Pizzeria Vetri [1], Pizzeria Vetri [2], Pizzeria Vetri [3], Alla Spina, Amis, Vetri Ristorante [1], and Vetri Ristorante [2].  

Late last year, Chef Marc Vetri's burgeoning Philly empire expanded further south into the Navy Yard. Vetri & Family have a penchant for helping to develop areas not previously known for great food (think: Alla Spina). Along this vein, Lo Spiedo is certainly a bright spot amidst the Philly sports stadiums.

Chef Vetri tapped the former sous at Osteria, Scott Calhoun, to be Chef de Cuisine of Lo Spiedo. And his kitchen churns out an array of spit-roasted meats and veggies. There's plenty of seating and Lo Spiedo is apparently doing quite well, catering to the Navy Yard business campus for lunch with additional patronage coming in from those looking to grab dinner before a concert or game.

Tuna Spiedini [$8]

They've got several spiedini, or skewers. We started off with the tuna, which was served nicely rare within, with a light dressing that rendered a lusciousness to the moist fish.

Chicken Thigh Spiedini [$4]

Do get the the chicken thigh spiedini, which were juicy. The charred pieces were the best, with the added bonus of caramelized onions and crunchy bits of smoky bacon. Be sure to get a few orders because the low price point is certainly commensurate with the amount of chicken!

Pumpkin Salad [$10]
Pumpkin seed vinaigrette, aged goat cheese

There was a pumpkin salad on offer when we went in January. The raw and thinly sliced pumpkin wasn't overly seasoned, but nicely dressed in vinaigrette. The much-needed punch of flavor came from the accents of aged goat cheese. 

Ricotta & Artichoke Grilled Focaccia [$6]

The artichokes were an acidic foil for the creamy, luscious ricotta. A trio of grilled toast points offered a nice vessel to scoop it all up. 

Special Panini [$14]
BBQ ribs, beer-battered onion rings

There was a special that day, featuring sweet and smoky BBQ ribs - off the bone and piled high, with some crispy beer battered onion rings towering over it all. Now THAT's how you "crunchify" Bobby Flay! The accompanying french fries were thin, well-seasoned, and crisply fried.

Chopped Pork Shoulder Sandwich [$12]
French fries

The pulled pork was moist, juicy, and had crisp bits studded throughout. The acidic bite of some vinegar helped to make each bite, with the crunch of the pickle offering even more balance to the meaty pork. 

Brisket Sandwich [$15]
Horseradish, Italian coleslaw

The heft of the moist, smoky brisket was balanced by the sharpness of the horseradish. The Italian coleslaw offered some texture to each bite. This was all house within some great bread - fresh, buttered, and well-toasted.

Buccatini alla Gricia [$16]
Guanciale, pecorino

You can't go to a Vetri production without checking out some pasta. Guanciale was calling my name and I wasn't disappointed with its appearance in the buccatini. The pasta was nicely thick and cooked perfectly with some bite. Sans egg, lest we have a carbonara, the pasta still offered some richness with the addition of the pork jowl and the salty pecorino. 

1/2 Chicken with Lemon & Olive Oil [$18]

You've got to try some spit-roasted meat at a place called Lo Spiedo. The bird was crisply charred on the outside and perfectly seasoned with lemon and salt. The meat was juicy and moist. Chicken doesn't get much better than this. Simple seasoning and quality cooking. 

Cast Iron Skillet Mac & Cheese [$8]

Mac & cheese is always a must order and this rendition was especially creamy and rich. The large macaroni noodles offered the perfect vessel for the cheese sauce, with a dusting of crispness up top. 

Whole Roasted Cabbage with Gorgonzola [$7]

Do try the whole roasted cabbage. Yes, Lo Spiedo even spit roasts its veggies. The head of cabbage is roasted tender and layered into a cast iron skillet amidst the funk of gorgonzola. While each bite was screaming for some textural contrast, it was a welcome punch of flavor to accompany the spit-roasted meats on the menu. 

Birthday Peppermint Ice Cream

We actually stopped by for my sister's b-day lunch and the kitchen was kind enough to send out some seasonal - at the time! - peppermint ice cream. 

Nutella Devil Dog [$6]

We also opted for the nutella devil dog. Soft, creamy and light, this definitely echoed the dollar dogs from the candy aisle. 

Cast Iron Apple Pie [$10]
Cinnamon semifreddo

The cast iron apple pie offered a crust that was chewier than I would have expected, but I appreciated that the flavors weren't overly saccharine. The tender apples were heightened by the cinnamon, with an even brighter punch of favor from the cinnamon semifreddo. I loved the contrast in temp - nothing beats pie a la mode.

Lo Spiedo is a different beast of a Vetri restaurant. It's more casual than Vetri, Osteria, and even Amis. But as COO Jeff Benjamin likes to say, casual doesn't mean service or the quality of each dish is compromised. Our server Jonathan was knowledgeable about each dish and service itself was flawless. The dishes were fairly straightforward, but that's not such a bad thing. Especially when the spit-roasted meats and sides are finger-licking good. 

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