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Jun 19, 2010 09:57 PM

Looking for superb food and awesome ambiance

Will be in Philly for 3 week nights. Staying by Rittenhouse Square. Looking for some great fine dining restaurants; one French, one Italian and one Seafood. I look for great taste and he's more into ambiance. Would like to stay under $200 total per dinner, including wine. He likes jazz/blues also. Lunch recommendations also welcome.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Le Bec FIn

    if a small BYO and is a less glamorous neighborhood can count as awesome ambiance (I think it can, although MM can get loud):

    Modo Mio

    It's a bit hard to get great food while enjoying iive music here. Try Chris' Jazz Cafe (cover charge) or TIme (music on weekends only) for a nightcap to get some tunes in. The drinks are better at Time but the music is usually better at Chris'.

    1. Yes, definitely go to Bibou---BYOB and excellent food. Chris's jaz cafe good as well for chef food may be kicked up. I've also seen music outside at table 31, not sure if during the week or just on weekends----at the comcast center.

      1. Cichetteria 19 for Italian. Right in the Ritt Square area, VERY Venetian in food at atmosphere, heavy emphasis on seafood. They are open for lunch and dinner.

        1. Thanks for the info. Base on that, I'll make reservation for Bibou and Fish.

          That leaves the choice for Italian. I checked that Vetri is fully books (or closes?) for my length of stay. The next natural choice seems to be Osteria but I've seen mixed reviews lately. After Bibou and Fish, I'm looking for a place with romantic ambiance, definitely not loud (like Amis).

          Questions about Osteria:
          - How's the ambiance at Osteria? Romantic? Cozy?
          - Is food at Osteria greasy? Many negative reviews fault them for this. I don't mind slightly heavy (it is Italian after all) but don't oil sitter at the bottom of my dish either. (Giacomo's in Boston is a perfect example of light cream sauce that's not heavy or greasy.)
          - The neighbourhood doesn't seem to offer nice after dinner strolls, is that right?

          Thanks again.

          7 Replies
          1. re: carcassone

            If you're concerned about Osteria (and you are 100% right that it's not the place for an after-dinner stroll), I'd go to Le Virtu in South Philly. The food is nearly as good (I haven't been to Osteria recently enough to confirm or refute the recent negative reviews), and East Passyunk Ave. is a nice place for a walk afterwards. Just make sure you walk north, not south. The atmosphere isn't what I'd call romantic exactly, it's nice though. Not as noisy as Amis. LV is closed on Tuesdays.

            I haven't seen any lunch recs so far, so mine are Kanella (they only do lunch Thursday-Sunday though), Parc (french), Zama (sushi), Tria (wine, beer, cheese and small plates). The latter three are within a few blocks of Rittenhouse Square. If you don't mind walking a little further, head to 9th and Christian and get a couple sandwiches at Paesano's. Also, at some point you should go to Capogiro at 20th and Sansom for gelato.

            1. re: Buckethead

              I think Le Virtu is a great idea, and so would be Melograno--it's right in Rittenhouse Square and the food has consistently pleased me as much as Osteria's (but note that it's BYO). I would definitely describe Osteria's food as greasy, by the way; most dishes are accessorized with a plate's worth of butter sauce or olive oil. If that's not your thing, I would definitely look elsewhere.

              Other lunch recommendations: A great burger at Village Whiskey near Rittenhouse Square, and a Neopolitan pizza at Pizzeria Stella, in the Society Hill section of the city. If you have any interest in more street-food style lunches (the sort place with great eats but little in the way of decor or even table service), let us know; this board can recommend a long list of worthy sandwiches, tacos, soups, etc.

              1. re: nwinkler

                Thanks for the lunch info. I'm thinking of dropping by Amada or Zahav for small plate lunch / snack while we're by the Independence Hall.

                Also, we want to visit Fairmount Park and thinking about Water Works Restaurant for lunch because of the view and location. However, is the food acceptable (I know it's not great)? Any alternatives?

                1. re: carcassone

                  Zahav isn't open for lunch. If Zahav interests you I'd recommend dropping your Italian dinner (or your Fish dinner, I'm not a huge fan of that place) and going there instead, it's the best restaurant in the city in my opinion.

            2. re: carcassone

              Osteria is neither romantic or cozy. It's more urban minimalist. Oil pooled under our pizza is one of the major reasons we have never returned. The staff was totally indifferent to our needs. It is not in a nice neighborhood.

              We have great Italian in Philly. Le Virtu has received many great reviews. We like Radicchio but they don't take reservations.

              1. re: joluvscards

                I guess it depends on your idea of romantic. My husband and I find it to be so. There's a lot going on visually, I wouldn't call it minimalist. It is more urban/lively, not sweet and cozy. Like I said, just depends on what you find romantic. I've had a number of stellar meals there and never find the food to be overly greasy or oily, other than the olive oil for dipping bread in. I'm usually turned off by fatty food, so I wouldn't say greasy food is the norm. A lot of the dishes are rich, but that's different. It's one of our favorite special occasion restaurants in the city. To each his own.

                1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                  I agree with you - I find Osteria to be quite romantic. The tables in the atrium are spaced apart enough to give you enough room to enjoy conversation and not worry about people next to you. I guess I don't ever look for a 'romantic' setting when choosing a restaurant, but I do really enjoy Osteria. Went there on Saturday night, had a cozy table, excellence service as usual. Food was also excellent, had two different pizzas and not a single one was 'greasy'. Had the quattro formaggi and margherita, the vegetable antipasto, buffalo mozzerella w/walnut pesto...all were superb.

            3. If you are considering Le Virtu, I would also look at Paradiso. You should easily stay under $200 there.