Monday, October 12, 2009

Pizzeria Stella

For a quick bite on the way to a Sixers pre-season game, we stopped in to check out the newly opened Pizzeria Stella, Stephen Starr's latest venture located right on Headhouse Square in the old Cosi spot. On a Friday evening around 6 there were plenty of open tables inside and out. But they didn't last long. There could be a bar, but we didn't stay inside long enough to notice. It was too nice outside. Besides this place is more about eating than getting your drink on (Which you can do if you so choose. It's not a byob.) What I did notice, however, was the large open dining space, open kitchen and ceiling-high pile of cut wood for the oven.

A glance of the menu showed a short list of wines, all by the glass. And, the beer list--while also short--included a selection like Lagunitas made it interesting.

We split an order of the calamari and octopus salad with new potatoes, olives, red onions and dressed with olive oil ($5). It was fresh, not chewy, and light. Thumbs up. We also split the Margherita pizza with buffalo mozzerella and topped with leaves of basil ($13). The pizzas are sized as individual with a very thin crust, which makes them light and easy for one person to finish. The sauce wasn't sweet and the cheese wasn't too greasy. All wins in my pizza book.

I overheard our dining neighbors raving about something with an egg over easy. It could either be the Tartufo pizza (black truffle, fontina, egg, parmesan) or the Asparagus (sunny side up egg, parmesan, olive oil). I'm guessing the Asparagus. Either way, he said it was something he's never before tasted - and it sounded like he wanted more.

We definitely want more. We'll be going back.

March 18, 2010: Edited to add a return visit.

Not as good as the first, I'm disappointed to say. It was a Thursday. Early evening, like 6:30ish. Plenty o' tables to be had, but still a decent crowd. The hubby and I were seated at a communal table, which was empty, on the end, closest to the people traffic. As I'm eyeballing the hubby about this predicament, the hostess promptly seats a family with two very young children directly next to us. Ummmm, oblivious, anyone? We were out without our kids. A couple. On a date. Fortunately, our neighbors recognized the situation and asked to be moved to a separate booth. But still. Get smart hostess! Aside from that, the food was good, but not great. Might've been an off night. Just thought you should know.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Village Whiskey

118 S. 20th Street, Philadelphia

Written by RD

Don’t rush to Village Whiskey. We went over, we thought early--6PM on Friday -- and it was packed. There seemed to be a strange table getting/giving arrangement. No reservations. The young woman taking names did not seem to know what to do. When we asked about the two empty tables in front--if we could have one--she told us that they were being held for people who were “on their way.” Evidentially, if you stop by and give your name and number, they call you when the table is ready and you scurry over. Sounds like a reservation to me.

We sat at the bar for drinks while awaiting a table. The young bartender spent most of his energy mixing a Sazerack for 10 minutes while wowing the girls with his banter and moves. Then it took him another 10 minutes to pour a 1.5 ounce vodka for my dining partner and a scotch for me. By now, the table is ready. (I think my description of the guy would be officious.)

On to the table! Great waitress, Beckie who was charming and helpful. Could not order another Scotch as they had run out of Dewar’s. Declined an offer of a free anything else in the scotch line and got wine. The food overall was great. I’ll tell you about that later. The burgers were cooked to perfection. They were even shaped to perfection. Perfectly round, uniform 8 ounces, very well ground, tasty beef. But, you know where I am going with this...bordered on the bland. French fries cooked in duck fat with a secret blend of salt and spices –eh. Not worth it.

Drinks $13-14 each. Burgers $9 (plus whatever you put on top was extra). Fries $5, Oysters $3 each (not bad.) Pickled “firsts” were delicious and $4-6. Burger dinner for 2 $105 plus tip. Not rushing to return. Maybe better after things calm down and on a weekday night.
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