Here are some of the best places to get a bowl of fresh pasta near you.
Murph’s Bar in Fishtown is a classic Irish hole-in-the-wall style bar that does some of the best pasta dishes you’ve ever had. Apart from being completely confused by this, you will also have a hard time choosing anything from their menu because it is VERY good.
Chef Francesco Bellastelli learned to cook from his mother growing up in Italy, so we have her to thank for the fried burrata, the tomato strozzapreti with a huge ball of burrata on top, the filet tagliatelle in a cream sauce of truffle, pear and cheese gnocchi with a drizzle of honey, meatballs and juicy lamb chops. He cooks every day of the week except Tuesdays and only stops when he’s out of food, so get there early to get a seat!
With just one look you might guess Gran Caffè L’Aquila off Chestnut Street in the city center is a specialty shop selling handmade ice cream and wine. During this time, I encourage you to go up to the restaurant for a different type of adventure.
Owner Riccardo Longo is obsessed with Italian culture and the right way to cook, and he wants every guest to have an authentic Italian experience. He took me on a trip from the northernmost part of Italy to the “heel of the boot” with imported ingredients and fresh homemade pasta. The gnocchi alla bava is a potato gnocchi in a fontina fondue. Bava means to drool in Italian, and after tasting it, it just made sense. Agnolotti is a mini ravioli filled with veal, pork, vegetables and herbs in a butter and sage sauce topped with a tasty truffle ice cream to eat with. Carbona, which is basically bacon and egg pasta, is topped with pancetta glaze adding a creamy texture to the dish.
He also told me that if I wanted to eat like a real Italian, I had to eat the pasta on the plate first, then the meat. I didn’t listen to that one, but we agreed on one thing: pasta is best cooked al dente, and all the dishes on his menu were cooked to perfection.
The Virtue in Passyunk has been open for 15 years, which gives them plenty of time to perfect their rustic Italian menu. They make all the fresh pasta in what they call the noodle room in the basement of the restaurant. I tried four favorites from the menu, and each was better than the next.
The ceppe with beef stew was classic, the gnocchi with pork sausage, sage, Parmigiano Reggiano and butternut squash puree was the right dose of sweetness, the taccozzelle with pork sausage, mushrooms, black truffle and saffron was slightly creamy and comforting … CORN. . . the Maccheroni alla mugnaia is on a level all by itself. It’s a single strand of pasta, 4.5 feet long, in a simple sauce of hot peppers, garlic, olive oil, and pecorino. And here’s a fun fact, this is the first dish I’ve ever finished on camera many years ago, and now it’s the first dish I’ve finished on camera twice!
Enjoy your lunch!
Don’t forget to check out part 1!
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