The Northeast! Despite having grown up there, and having parents still residing there, I never eat out near my parents when I come back to visit. We usually drive to Center City and environs. Last night, my father suggested a place closer to home (where I'm visiting). We went to Mariaisabela's (yep, one word). It is a BYOB Italian run by 2 sisters in the neighborhood of Father Judge high school, and near another decent spot, Guido's. Sorry I don't know the address. Anyway, it was outstanding. I had to eat crow b/c i protested so greatly going there.
The menu is very limited given the size of the place and the kitchen, but it had some interesting choices, along with a bunch of intriguing specials. The bread was tasty and so were the roasted peppers that came with them. There were four of us - we split fried calamari (ok) and a caprese salad (great). My dad had split pea soup, which I usually don't like - this one I thought was delicious.
For entrees - my mother had the veal special - thin-cut veal wrapped around spinach and tomatoes- my parents were doing cartwheels over this dish. My sister had a grilled shrimp special - over egg noodles in a light cream sauce. Wonderful. I ordered plain vanilla - capellini marinara- not to die for, but very good. My father had lemon chicken w/ roasted vegetables on the side. The chicken - an unexciting dish - was fine, but the side was fantastic.
The best part might have been the desserts - homemade ice creams of coffee and blueberry and small, cigar sized cannoli.
For all the high-brow restaurants I read about and seek out, it's these unknown treasures that I think are the most rewarding. Service by Isabella was impeccable - cooking by Maria pretty damn good.
I hope this place stays in business for the next time I'm in town.