Started with a lunch at Devon seafood Grill at Rittenhouse Square at the (nostalgic) recommendation of one in our party. I ordered the mini lobster rolls, which were pretty tasty and probably the best thing on the table. I also had a side of roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta that was delicious. My husband's oysters, recommended by the server, were mediocre as was his NE clam chowder. Another in our party had a beet salad, which looked good, and she seemed to enjoy it. Fourth person had fish tacos, which were ok, but just ok. The experience was fine, but I know we could have eaten better elsewhere. We wandered over to the Christmas market, but skipped the funnel cake in anticipation of dinner . . .
Which was fantastic. Since not everyone in our party was up for dropping big bucks on the now-tasting-menu-only Vetri (I would have spliurged since Vetri is probably my favorite restaurant anywhere, ever), we opted for Osteria. I had been there once soon after it first opened and enjoyed it then, but this recent meal was phenomenal, a sentiment shared by everyone in our party. My husband pronounced his chicken liver rigatoni with cippollini onions and sage the best pasta he's ever eaten (which is saying something); my pasta with boar bolognese was certainly among the best I've ever tasted. Others in our party had ravioli with wild mushrooms and thyme, which was both "light" and utterly satisfying, and roast suckling pig and a side of polenta. We also sampled the excellent and very generously topped "parma" pizza (prosciutto, arugula, fresh mozzarella, fontina); the wood-grilled octopus with preserved lemon was divine (everyone thought that the best octopus they'd ever had). Cocktails, salads, wines--all also wonderful. What a great meal for a fraction of what we'd have spent at Vetri. Two in our party had never been to Osteria, but vowed to return soon. I wish I could!
After breakfast in our hotel (ordinary but well-prepared), we headed off to the Italian Market. I hadn't been in several years, but I could have spent the entire day there. Actually all four of us managed to have a great time contributing to the local economy by loading up on olive oils, vinegars, cheeses, and all manner of Italian specialty foods as well as fresh sausages and cured meats, nice veggies. We spent well over an hour in the fabulous Fante's, scoring a few holiday gifts for ourselves and one or two others (!). What a wonderland for the culinarily possessed.
All that shopping worked up an appetite, so for our last taste of Philly (and definitely the trip's best bargain), the four of us sat down and shared two "Arrista" sandwiches at Paesano. And what swoon-worthy andwiches those were: succulent roast pork piled high with deliciously bitter broccoli rabe, hot peppers, sharp cheese on good bread to sop up the spicy juices. (I have to admit: that sandwich compares very favorably to my beloved New Orleans po-boys.) We exchanged many superlatives at table before heading out, goodies in tow, scheming about when we can do it all again.
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