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Jun 22, 2008 06:02 PM

Somewhere quiet

On July 5th I hope to celebrate a special occasion at a restaurant somewhere in the Philadelphia area (South Jersey and Philadelphia suburbs definitely work too). Basically, I'm looking for somewhere quiet where I'm not sitting right on top of the tables next to me, and where I can hear my dining partner and him me without difficulty. Ideally, we'd like to keep the cost at around $100 total, though there is some flexibility there. In terms of particulars, I am a vegetarian and he is not. As long as there is one item on the menu that I can eat I am fine, meaning I'm not really looking for a recommendation for a vegetarian-only restaurant such as Horizons. He enjoys fish but also likes pasta, other meats, or pretty much anything that is good. I am a non-drinker and he drinks, so BYOB usually works best but anywhere that offers wine by the glass would work too. We've been to several BYOBs in the city and surrounding areas (Branzino, L'Angelo, Sola, Matyson, etc) and are really just looking for a quiet atmosphere that makes us feel as if the night revolves around us. Some thoughts I had were Mr. Martino's Trattoria, Kristian's, Ristorante Panorama, etc. Any insight you guys have would be great. p.s. Since this is a holiday weekend (and only 2 weeks away) I realize our options might be somewhat limited. Thanks!

p.s. While I read the recent post about the couple celebrating their one year anniversary, and saw similarities in what they were seeking and what we are seeking, I don't think that the tapas route ala Amada, etc. would work for us for this particular night.

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  1. Old City (Panorama) would probably not be a good choice for quiet on July 5th since Boys II Men are at Penns Landing follwed by fireworks.

    1. Friday Saturday Sunday I think its on 23rd at rittenhouse square st... My wife and I (when we lived in center city) went there twice a week for drinks, quite a cozy place and very fair prices.

      5 Replies
      1. re: danny m

        I had plans to go to Friday Saturday Sunday several years ago for my birthday but that never happened. I remember hearing they had a fire sometime in the past you know if they are fully up and running again? Can you comment on the food or did you just have drinks? Thanks!

        1. re: Laura D.

          I have not hear about a fire...... the food was simple, kind of 1990's but the kitchen was consistant and the service was personal. I would recommend sitting up stairs at the tank bar. Also there is Tre Scalini 1915 E Passyunk ave 215.551.3870. What a wonderful place, Mom is in the kitchen cooking and the daughter is serving you. It' very small maybe 35 seats. And it is a byo. Fri, sat, sun is more intimate.

          1. re: danny m

            The menu at Friday Saturday Sunday looks good so I'll add it to the pool of options. I know that one person on this board had a really bad experience at Tre Scalini, though with others praising it I'm hoping that perhaps it was just an off night for them. Too bad they don't seem to have a website or menu posted online!

            1. re: Laura D.

              I really don't like the food or outdated atmosphere there but it is quiet.

          2. re: Laura D.

            They were only closed for a few days/weeks, and that was some months ago. Thank you.

        2. you know, while their menu does not totally do it for me (though others here are way into it) sovalo in northern liberties is kinda in the back of my head. very romantic feel to it.

          chloe in old city also has that intimate feel - though something makes me think they don't take reservations. however it never hurts to call and explain your situation. BYO. hrm though with the penn's landing events old city might be a place to avoid - though if ANY place were going to be uncrowded, it would be hard-to-find and off the beaten path chloe.

          also i hate to recommend a place i've never been to, but i do HEAR rave reviews about copper in nolibs. i wonder if anyone else could comment on them? they post on our neighborhood message board and have definitely had some interesting-looking menu items as of late, including a clam bake (i know, not too interesting to a vege). it always LOOKS like a quiet, special place. i keep meaning to try them. BYO.

          quiet is a difficult thing for me. one, because i'm loud. two, because often places are quiet because they're not doing too well. i will keep mulling this over. my quiet places are certainly drastically different from my favorite places (case in point: modo mio. though i always do feel super-special there, quiet is the perfect antonym to modo mio's atmosphere!)

          9 Replies
          1. re: rabidog

            I just checked Copper's menu online. It would definitely suit my dining partner's preferences but I'd have to give them a call as they didn't have any entrees on their menu online that were totally vegetarian. Most places are willing to accomodate with some notice, though. Sovalo looks good and I know we were considering going here for another occasion so I'll reconsider it. In terms of Chloe , the menu looks great but I think you are appears as if they don't take reservations which would probably make them inappropriate for this particular night though something we'd definitely try to visit in the future. Thanks as always for your suggestions!

            1. re: Laura D.

              Copper is good. However it is not quiet. The open kitchen takes up much of the front room and tables are close together. Chick's cafe on 7th between South and Bainbridge is intimate, lots of interesting wines by the glass and a mixture of small plates, cheeses, cured meats and larger entree style options.

              1. re: salvarez

                I keep hearing great things about the new Chick's! I lived down that way when it was the old Chick's and never made it in. Will have to check it out.

                1. re: hollyd

                  When did the old Chick's/new Chick's transition occur? I was doing a bit of research online and it seemed like several people commented that, regardless of what it is trying to be, Chick's is still a bar. Perhaps those comments were in regard to the old Chick's? I did like the looks of the online menu and would be more inclined to give it a try if others have had good experiences there.

                  1. re: Laura D.

                    I forgot about Beaumonde, I think it would be a nice option for you. Its on 6th and Bainbridge, I love it for brunch.

                    1. re: danny m

                      We do have a gift certificate for Beaumonde, though I'm not entirely sure if we could make an entire dinner out of their selections. I'll have to check the menu out again but I have a feeling we'll likely try it for brunch or dessert. Thanks for the suggestion, though!

                    2. re: Laura D.

                      I think it was last spring or summer. They did a whole menu and interior overhaul.

                      1. re: Laura D.

                        Chick's definitely isn't just a bar. Most people are eating something, whether some cheese and bread or a full meal. The bar program is very special, with close to 50 unusual wines by the glass, interesting beers on tap and grown up cocktails made with house made mixers including ginger beer. Yum! The crowd is decidedly grown up and it has a great neighborhood vibe. It has been in its current incarnation for about a year now and they are in the process of opening an upstairs piano bar and securing a liquor license for out door seating. Right now the few tables outside are byo until they get that license.

                        1. re: salvarez

                          When I first went to Chick's I found the food sub-par (especially the cheese list) and the service unseasoned. Has it improved?

              2. Bistro 7 is almost never full and generally more quiet than many of the byo's even at capacity. IMHO the food is on a par with Matyson. They are located in Old City.

                Avoid Kristian's if you want quiet.

                4 Replies
                1. re: joluvscards

                  Hmm, I know nothing about Bistro 7 but the menu looks good (they have a vegetarian gnocchi appetizer on this week's menu that I'm guessing I could get as a entree if I called ahead, and if they still had it next weekend, that is). Let me consult with my dining partner about this as this seems very different from some of the other options we were considering. Thanks for the advice on Kristian's...the food looks good but I know nothing about the atmosphere, meaning it's nice you were able to tell me now that it is loud.

                  1. re: Laura D.

                    Call Bistro 7 and speak with the chef. I bet he will be more than willing to make something to suit your needs.

                    1. re: joluvscards

                      Most chefs have been in the past so I'm definitely not worried. I'll run it by my dining partner and if he is interested I'll give them a call to confirm that they can make something vegetarian. Thanks again!

                      1. re: Laura D.

                        Laura, I'm a chef and it is always helpfull when a special diet guest calls ahead. My wife is a vegan so it's a challenge for us to go out to dinner. But if you would like to go to wonderful restaurant that you could get out of for about $100. And dont listen to anyone that says you cant, #1 your a vegertarian and #2 dont drink so that makes it totally possible. call Brasserie Perrier and ask for Perry Katsapis (chef de cuisine) ask to sit at table 47 (its a booth seperate from all the other tables) Have fun!!!

                2. For a quiet atmosphere with a hint of romanticism and excellent cuisine, I suggest Caffe Casta Diva. Located on 227 S 20th St, at Locust St., the restaurant has an operatic theme in paintings and music, and its Italian-centric menu is really terrific and will include items for both you and your date. Owner and chef Stephen Vassaluzzo may be the most humble restauranteur I have ever met. His homemade pastas are excellent, as is his veal chop and fish. Even the gelato is homemade. Based on what you are looking for, I think Casta Diva serves your interests. Request the table in the window and enjoy a romantic evening. It is also BYOB.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: ddeblasi

                    This is my favorite restaurant in Philadlephia.

                    1. re: saturninus

                      Saturninus, what do you typically have when you go to Caffe Casta Diva? I'm not sure how accurate the menu is on, but it appears as if only one of the pasta dishes is vegetarian? Also, am I correct in thinking that they don't take reservations? I wondering if perhaps this is what kept me away from here in the past (I know I have seen you and others suggest this restaurant to other posters and perhaps even to me for past events..there must be some reason why I've never been). Thanks!

                      1. re: Laura D.

                        There are usually several pasta dishes and appetizers that are vegetarian. Their menu also changes often. Some favorites are their signature salad and goat cheese gnocchi.

                    2. re: ddeblasi

                      We like the food at Casta Diva, but won't go there on a weekend because the noise level is intolerable. The last time we were there we couldn't even talk to the person next to us. They do take reservations.

                      I like to celebrate at August, which is small, pretty, and has delicious food and find service, but I think they are closed for vacation this weekend.

                      Sovalo is very attractive and kind of romantic, and the pastas are excellent. It's not BYOB, but I think the prices would be okay.

                      If you haven't been to Nan, it's Thai/French with excellent food, BYOB. You could ask for a quiet table. It's at 40th and Chestnut. The cold cucumber soup is incredible, as is anything in puff pastry - or anything. It's in your price range.

                      Sola hasn't had his place for a long time. I heard he is working mostly in New York - for private catering, he is quite expensive these days.

                      1. re: sylviag

                        Sylviag, I'm glad you said that, if only because you've confirmed the fact that I'm not going crazy. I thought that I had been told that Caffe Casta Diva was incredibly loud, and I was thrown by the person stating it was quiet. I'll put it on my list to try for a weeknight when hopefully the noise won't be a problem. Unfortunately while I enjoyed the atmosphere at August the one time I was there I wasn't thrilled with the menu. I think I was a bit irritated by their substitution in there basically are no substitutions. From a small business perspective I get it, but from a customer service perspective it was a turn-off. Perhaps I'll give it another try on a different occasion, though. Thanks as always for your detailed input.