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Restaurants & Bars

Il PIttore

cwdonald | Nov 10, 2011 11:50 AM

I was very excited to dine at Il Pittore which is in the former location of Noble, one of my favorite restaurants in Philadelphia. They have transformed the space downstairs into an area where walkins may eat, or people may have a drink at the bar, and the upstairs while still airy, is now a more formal dining room. They did preserve the wonderful skylight with the herb garden, which was one of Noble's special touches.

Service was eager and a bit uneven. People were definitely attentive, but one felt as if the staff was still very inexperienced, and learning the ropes.

The cocktail list is impressive, and I appreciated the fact they had drinks with three different gins (Plymouth, Blue Coat and Hendricks.) Their wine list was quite impressive too. Too few places have Super Tuscans by the glass. There was a nice range of wines in the 40 dollar range and much higher bottles up to about 700 bottle for a superb vintage that deserves to end up on someone's expense account.

I went wanting to dine lightly. They do offer a five course pasta tasting dinner, but that felt like too much pasta. So instead I began with their daily crudo, which the day I was there consisted of red snapper, tuna and scallop. Each bite was wonderfully fresh. I enjoyed the tuna with serrano pepper the most, though the other preparations were delicate and flavorful. It was a very nice way to begin the meal.

I followed it up with their rendition of Tuscan Bread Soup, which had rich oxtail and root vegetables. A delightful bowl of soup.

I then ordered a pasta course as my main, the Cacio Peppe. This is a simple dish where hot pasta melts pecorino and a bit of olive oil coating the pasta and is finished with a fresh cracked black pepper. Just before my pasta was to arrive I had a change of heart, and asked for the ravioli with the goat ragout (mint and chili oil). They were unable to substitute but instead graciously served me both. The pasta portions were small, which in my mind is a good thing. The ravioli was delicious, flavorful, and the goat was earthy, well cooked without being tough and the mint and chili oil added wonderful contrast to the dish.

Dessert was not memorable. The Caffe Corretto I ordered along with it was a bit beyond the ability of the staff and I ended up getting a expresso and a grappa and having to pour the grappa into the expresso. Not the end of the world, but I hope little things like this will be corrected over time.

Looking forward to going back after some of the kinks have been ironed out (such as the over salting issue that some folks have complained about ... and which made me reticent to order a 30 dollar entree.) Also, this place is not cheap. Dinner with drinks even "eating lightly" and splitting a dessert was 100 a person before tip. Their wines by the glass are in the mid teens, as are their cocktails.

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