After hearing many raves and write-ups about Sovalo, I decided to give it a try. Already familiar with the space as the former Pigalle, I was not disappointed by the atmosphere and consider this to be one of the sexier places in Philly. But, that being said, I don't know what all the fuss is about. First of all, I was told that they could "squeeze us in at 5:00" so I took the reservation. The place was completely empty when we got there and there were many 2-tops still available when we left at 6:30. Now with a completely empty restaurant we were seated at the front directly behind the hostess station, at which the hostess stood, facing us with arms crossed, throughout nearly our entire meal. I would glance over my shoulder and see her mere feet behind us, like someone looking over your shoulder as you eat.
After being given the menus and wine list, our very young server asked "have you decided on the wine?" to which I said "well first I'd like to look at the food and then decide on the wine" which got a "very wise choice!" Do you think? Oh thank you for saying so! We were very surprised at the youth and inexperience of the waitstaff. Started the meal with expensive drinks (Belini and Limone at $9.75).
On to the food. We decided on half portions of pastas for our apps. Wife's butternut squash filled ravioli's with hazelnuts were very good, but we felt that the same version at Ravenna, a local fav of ours in Montco, were better. My homemade tagilatelle with rabbit ragu was very good, albeit lacking enough salt. Overall, their pastas seem well made and were better than the entrees we had. Wife had a bass for entree, can't remember how it was prepared, but it did not wow either of us. My pork chop over white polenta was good, cooked perfectly in spots but a little dry in others. We didn't see how any of the food was distinctively Californian and seemed pretty straight ahead Northern Italian. The food was good but very similar to that which we've had in other good Northern Italian restaurants.
The wine list is reasonable priced and all from Calif. or Italy. We had a "Menage a trois" (Muscat/Chard/Semillion) from Folie a Deux at $28. All in all it was a good meal but nothing fantastic, especially at what we paid. Surely not up to the raves we've heard and not good enough to make us want to return.