Outstanding meal saves the day in Philly


Two coworkers and I were smacked around by Mother Nature last week in the City of Brotherly Love, of all places. Our travel plans were scuttled by snow and our nerves frayed by busy signals as we tried to rebook and regroup as we sat in the Philadelphia airport on Wednesday, watching our flight and many others flip from delayed to cancelled.

We eventually landed  in a downtown hotel for the evening where we found the perfect cure for this un-brotherly beat down:  an amazing meal at an amazing restaurant in the midst of an unrelenting snowstorm that was kind of pretty if you didn’t count the cab ride that turned into a thrill ride.

The restaurant is Vetri, and it’s not far from the city’s convention center and the Market Street thoroughfare. A small narrow space with about a dozen tables, the restaurant oozes charm, class, and comfort.  Coworker K1 and I had a perfect view of the snow through the tall rounded windows of this townhouse on Spruce Street.

The menu features authentic Northern Italian cuisine crafted and presented with meticulous care and served with incredible efficiency. The sommelier was a huge help to us as he offered tips and mild warnings about portion size, making sure we would not be disappointed.

The golden sweet onion crepe with white truffle fondue.

We weren’t.

The three of us shared a golden sweet onion crepe with white truffle fondue.  We were told that the onion is carmelized for eight hours, providing the hint of sweetness to  this incredibly delicate yet powerfully flavored appetizer. 

I haven’t been to any other restaurant where I was served four different kinds of breads, and had the server describe each one.

The breads were nice accompaniments to my pasta dish: casoncelli with sage and pancetta. In chef Mark Vetri’s presentation, the casoncelli, which are a type of ravioli,  are filled with golden raisins and pork, and dressed in a mild honey butter sauce. They were incredibly good.

Coworker K2 had black cannelloni with broccoli and yellow pepper sauce. A small flavorful portion that she described thoughtfully as a “real gift.” Coworker K1 raved about her chestnut fettuccine with wild boar ragu, and, as she was nice enough to share, I had to agree. 

My casoncelli couldn't have been any better.

While everything is very upper-end at Vetri, we felt at ease and at home during our entire meal. The waitstaff are informative and friendly, and there is no pretension here, just very good, albeit expensive, food.

To top off my meal, I had coconut gelato. Three mini-scoops graced my rectangular dish, with each scoop topped with a delicate wafer. Coworker K2 was set to enjoy a birthday, and the mere mention of that meant a candle and birthday wishes along with her peanut butter and chocolate concoction that brought a smile to her face.

A tricky, slippery cab ride back to the hotel couldn’t take anything away from our wonderful meal. Philly was back in our good graces, at least for a night.

Snow removal is not a Pennsylvania strong suit.

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