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Aug 30, 2007 07:19 AM

Little Fish Report

Hi Philly Hounds: I am a Baltimore Hound that is in Philadelphia Mon-Thurs every week for work through October-ish and I love exploring your dining scene. Per comments on this board I went to Little Fish last night and so far it is my favorite stop. Here's the rundown: I sat outside where there is admittedly little "scene" (I dine alone here so I like to people watch) but the neghborhood is cute and there were a few people out walking their dogs, etc. I was looking for a spot on the quiet side to decompress and read while I ate. I can't speak for the inside of Little Fish because as soon as I walked up to the door one of the staff came out and I asked for an outdoor table. The outside has 4 tables (2 2-tops, 2 4-tops) that wrap around the street corner. It was just what I was looking for.

I knew I was in for a good meal when the server brought the menu and it was hand written (scrawled) by the chef. It was a bit hard to read but the waitress explained the entries that I questioned and she obviously knew what she was talking about. She was also friendly and attentive without being annoying. Being from Baltimore I have a sick fascination with trying out other city's crabcakes despite knowing full well they won't measure up to Charm City's offerings (IMHO). I ordered one for an appetizer - it just sounded interesting and different. It was great! It had more "stuff" that Baltimore's typical crab cake but it worked well: it had chunks of mango on top with a few greens in a lemon viniagrette. There were a few dollops of sauce on the side that I couldn't identify but were tasty. Overall, it was very good and a nice combo of flavors. For dinner I had red snapper. It was pan seared and served over white beans and wilted greens. There was a tomato "marmalade" (I think that's how it was described on the menu) on top of the fish. It was light and flavorful. I had a hard time choosing there were so many fish entrees. Others that stood out to me were the Wahoo, Marlin, and Halibut. I skipped dessert so I don't have a report on that. The best part of the evening was meeting a couple sitting next to me. I asked them if they could tell me where to get a cab (not too many driving by at all) and then we got to talking about how I found this little gem that was so far from my hotel. I told them about Chowhound and how I love to dine out and explore. They told me that they too are foodies and go out every night. The husband then proceeded to write down a list of their favorite Philly restys for me. I almost asked them to adopt me. They were such friendly Philly foodies. I look forward to trying out their favorite spots and also to returning to Little Fish...

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  1. Glad you enjoyed it. I need to get over's a very short walk from my apartment!

    1. we can be the city of brotherly love sometimes. :) what other places did they recommend?

      16 Replies
      1. re: mazza3

        They recommended the following:
        - Branzino
        - Twenty Manning
        - Bistro 7
        - Salt & Pepper
        - Striped Bass
        - Zento
        - Caffe Casta Diva
        - Porcini
        - Mandoline
        - Radicchio
        - Chloe
        - Dmitri
        - Tri Scalini
        - Osterio Delorio
        - Vetri
        - Marigold


        1. re: chrissiedee

          hmmm, i've only been to two of these and like them both (raddichio and dmitri's). everything else on this list are definitely philly hound favies from what i've seen on the board, though i am surprised salt and pepper is on it. that place used to be a hoagie/cheesesteak joint called randazzo's and i didn't think it got any business. i think that i would like these people as well, their tastes lean towards italian, and being part of an italian family that has lived on the same street for 120 years, well, i am biased. and that's probably why i can't give an opinion on many of these places. when i want italian, i cook it. my three local haunts are mezza luna, dante and luigi's and fitzwater cafe. all three are good for different reasons (mezza luna - everything on the menu is good except for the osso bucco, decor is eh, d & l - the only red sauce that i eat in philadelphia, excellent manicotti and sweatbreads, fitzwater - quick service and decent pasta dishes, 1/2 block from my house). so you know, radicchio opened a new cheaper place in port richmond that is pretty good too, bistro juliana. no atmosphere really, but good food in a part of town where there is nothing is never a bad thing. and who knows if you'll ever find yourself there.

          alot of the places that they recommended are a bit pricey as well. but if it's your expense account that will take the hit, then hey, all is good. if you like non-mediterranean fare as well, i.e. asian and mexican, there are several excellent choices on or near washington ave:

          la lupe - 9th and federal
          taqueria la vercruzana - 9th and washington
          molcajete mixto - 9th and christian (haven't been, but is getting great reviews)

          cafe de laos - laotian and thai - 11th and washington
          nam phuong - vietnamese - 11th and washington
          and of course you can go to chinatown, home of my favorite chiao lan kung - on race between 9th and 10th.

          have you been to the reading terminal yet? it is only open for during the day, but you could spend weeks eating your way from one end to the other....

          1. re: mazza3

            Molcajete Mixto has had problems with consistency, moreso lately. I had always had good meals there in the past, but my most recent visit wasn't very good.

          2. re: chrissiedee

            Cross Salt & Pepper, Striped Bass, and Chloe off that list. S&P changed hands a while ago and is not as good now as a couple years ago. The couple you met must not have been there since then. Striped Bass is OK, but way too expensive for what you get, and the atmosphere is like a tomb. Chloe was forgettable on my only visit.

            Dimitri's is hit or miss, I usually don't go for that reason but I've had good meals there in the past.

            I'm not sure what Osteria Delorio is, unless they mean just plain Osteria, which is the new restaurant of Marc Vetri (of Vetri). That place is great.

            Oh, and on future visits to Little Fish, whatever you do, do NOT go into Dessert (the restaurant, not the course), which is a few doors down. Ugh!

            1. re: Buckethead

              What's the problem with Chloe? We love it.

              1. re: Elaine

                No problem, we just didn't have anything that made an impression on us, or warranted a return visit.

              2. re: Buckethead

                Chloe is one of my favorite restaurants in Philadelphia.
                Dmitri's is amazing. Especially the original location.
                I hated Osteria, but I feel like I am the only person on this earth. The service was one of the worst I have experienced in my life.
                Dessert is closed.

                1. re: saturninus

                  Count me and my husband in with the Chloe lovers.

                  Haven't been to Osteria, but I read a reference to it on another blog that seemed to intimate (it was kind of hard to understand) that the service was less than friendly and fabulous. I don't want to slam it via hearsay; just noting that maybe you're not alone, Saturninus.

                  1. re: saturninus

                    Did you hate the food and wine too at Osteria or just the service?


                    1. re: Chinon00

                      I am going to do a seperate post on this I think, just to explain my experiences.

                    2. re: saturninus

                      I agree that Chloe is worth a visit. I think Dmitri's is one of the most over-rated places on the board. Their grilled octopus is great, but beyond that, I just don't get it. I've only been to the Queen Village one, never made it to the one near Rittenhouse Square.

                      1. re: clairvaux

                        As someone on this board who recommends dmitri's regularly- i'll try to explain my reasoning. The food is simple, fresh, and predictably good. They aren't going to wow you with something innovative (in fact - I think the menu has been exactly the same for the 10 years i have been going there). It's also a great value - I was just there last night, had octupus starter, & grilled scallops and my husband had the tilapia. It was a ton of food. Total bill with tip was $57.

                        I do get why alot of people are turned off by it - it's cramped, the waitresses can be gruff, and it's loud. So, it isn't for everyone.

                        1. re: DanielleM

                          I was turned off by it because the octopus is usually overcooked and I had a meal there that stank to high heaven of the gas they use to fuel the grill. Also, they use pomace oil for bread dipping.

                    3. re: Buckethead

                      FYI, Dessert is closed. Has been for awhile now.

                      1. re: Buckethead

                        Michael Klein just reported today that the old Dessert space going to become La Golosa, a new Italian...

                      2. re: chrissiedee

                        I'd skip 20 Manning, Porcini and Striped Bass. Porcini is ok but nothing special. Marigold is one of the board favorites. Haven't been but have been meaning to try. One big omission from your list is Matyson. My favorite place. Don't miss the desserts. Have fun.

                    4. We've been to all the restaurants on your list except for Osteria Delorio (and I've now written it down to try). The top restaurant on the list is Vetri's, which is great but expensive and hard to get a reservation. You might want to try Osteria, which is Vetri's new restaurant on N. Broad St., - a little cheaper than Vetri's original and a very happening place.

                      1. I believe the OP is talking about Hosteria da Elio (SP?) off of South

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Tonyjlive

                          Thanks for clearing that up. I googled Osteria Delorio and came up with nothing.

                        2. Thanks everyone for the responses and for posting updates on some of the closed/changed hands places. And thanks for clearing up Hosteria da Elio - I was confused too. Also, Matyson was off the list b/c I have been there and told the guy writing the list for me that I'd definitely be going back. Can't wait to try these places.