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Niki in Dayton Aug 9, 2010 09:24 AM

We just returned from a long weekend in Philadelphia, where we went to eat, drink, and be merry. We didn’t explicitly ask for recommendations from the local hounds, but did read the Philadelphia board for a month or so prior to our visit.

Our first stop on the way into town was Paesano’s. Three of us shared the roast pork (Arista), the lamb sausage, and the eggplant sandwiches. The Arista was juicy, with tender rabe, but we actually liked the eggplant best. The juicy pork made the bread too soggy, in our opinion. Still, these are minor quibbles, and overall, we were happy with lunch. Our next stop was Reading Terminal Market. We bought some jerky and tried the cannoli, some cookies, and a chocolate-covered banana thingy from Termini (more about that later).

Dinner that night was at Amada and turned out to be one of the highlights of our food-centric trip. Everything was great, especially the roast pork tapa, the beef short-rib flat bread, the salad with jamon and cabrales and figs, the pimentos de padrone, the octopus, and the chocolate crema dessert. The white wine sangria was refreshing and both the service and ambiance were enjoyable. I thought the cost was very reasonable, at about $60 per person with tax and tip, which included plenty to drink and too much to eat!

Friday started out great with a stroll down to the Italian Market area and a stop at Isgro’s bakery. Purely in the interest of science, DH and I tried the cannoli at Isgro’s to compare it against the one the day before from Termini. I know you Philly hounds seem to prefer Termini, but our experience is that the cannoli shell at Termini was very tough and the filling a bit too sweet. Isgro’s shell was tender (both were freshly filled and we got the cheese filling at both). So our vote is Isgro’s, and not just for the cannoli. The baba au rum, the beautiful peach pastry, the pear tart, the cookies – loved all of them and thought the quality of all to be much better than what we tried from Termini.

Dinner that night was at Fish. The food and service were both impeccable. We shared Thai-style mussels to start, then I had the skate, DH had the sea bass, and our friend had the monkfish. Portions are not huge here, and we all emptied our plates. We shared a bottle of wine and the flourless chocolate cake for dessert, and the total with tax and tip was over $200.

Saturday we went to Dim Sum Garden because I wanted to try soup dumplings, which I’d never had before. I liked them, and liked the pan-fried chive and pork dumplings as well. The sui mai was a bit gummy for my taste (guess I prefer HongKong style to Shanghai). Next, we returned to Reading Terminal Market to try the apple dumpling at the Dutch Eating Place, but unfortunately, that was a bust for us. The pastry was soggy and didn’t appear to be fully cooked, and the apple pieces were way overcooked to our taste. Dinner that night was at La Locanda di Ghiottone. The crab-cake was excellent, the mussels were good, and the pasta dishes were good too. Love the BYOB thing, as well, as that’s not really an option here in Ohio. Thanks, folks!

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    bonappetite RE: Niki in Dayton Aug 10, 2010 01:57 AM

    Great to hear your review and to find out that I am not the only non Termini fan! Although I may still be the only Philadelphian non-fan!

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      barryg RE: Niki in Dayton Aug 10, 2010 06:03 AM

      Thanks for the review.

      I'm surprised to hear the cannoli were filled to order at Isgro's. The last time I was there, last summer, this was not the case. Anyone know their pattern of filling to order?

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      1. re: barryg
        bluehensfan RE: barryg Aug 10, 2010 06:18 AM

        Thanks for posting about your visit. I still like the "snap" that the cannoli shells at Termini's. I do like the cinnamon-y flavor of the shells at Isgro's but don't like the texture..they seem a bit too soft (and almost stale) for my liking. Fortunately Termini's now has cinnamon sugar that can be sprinkled on their cannoli so I can get the best of both.

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