Friday, May 29, 2009

La Fontana Della Citta

1701 Spruce St., Philadelphia, 215.875.9990

We had been warned. High prices for okay food. But, we pursued the experience anyway.

First impressions were not good. La Fontana Della Citta had the look and feel of a bad suburban restaurant. Gilded framed paintings, marbled faux-painted walls, statues. Statues? Ugh. A bunch of Italian speaking young servers waiting on...just two other tables. Even the website with its auto play music is horrific. It was Girls Dinner, and our collective, "Oh boy." as we walked in the door said it all.

Girlfriend Mo had been there-TWICE-and claims to have had a good experience both times. I was highly doubtful. Especially after we noticed the white bread was stale and the olive oil offered nothing other than greasiness. And, a source of immediate annoyance, the only candle on our table was unlit. Guess the servers were too busy waiting on their two other tables to worry about little details like ambiance. But they had statues for that.

Thanks to Girlfriend Mo, we've now tried calamari in every Italian restaurant we've eaten in in the city. I can't tell you who's is the best, but La Fontana's was pretty tasteless. It came with marinara sauce for dipping which was also, amazingly, tasteless! Salt, a key ingredient, was definitely missing. The texture was light and crispy, but it was down right bland.

At some point, two groups of college girls in short ass dresses came strutting in with their Riunite jugs o' juice. The young Italian servers were smiling so hard, my face hurt. Surprisingly our service did not go downhill from there. And fortunately, the food got better. Hmmm.

The whole fish Branzino special was filleted tableside and was served with sun-dried tomatoes, lemon, and capers. The fish was fresh and the sauce was light and delish. Plus, we found only 3 bones. Of course, zero would have been better, but our expectations were still low. Although, I thought the fish was a little overcooked. Girlfriend Roz disagreed.

The Risotto con Funghi with porcini mushrooms was cooked al dente in rich cognac sauce. Yes, this was a winter heavy meal, and even though it stuck in my teeth, I brought it home and had the rest the next night. Yum.

Girlfriend Mo had another special, the Capellini with Shrimp, Scallops, and Spinach in a rose sauce. I think this was the best entree of the three. Fresh, light with a hint of sweetness.

And yet, the entire time, we snickered at the young girls in their stripper clothes. Girlfriend Roz succinctly put it this way, "I think there's a pole behind me."

We skipped dessert and finished our wine instead. The entrees prevailed, but not enough to warrent a return visit. Ever.


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