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Jul 31, 2012 06:32 PM

Suggestions for an LA Hound

I'm going to be in town over the weekend. I'm staying in center city and will not have a car. here's my plan so far based on this board:

lunch - dinics
dinner - zahav
after dinner drinks - oyster house

breakfast - open to a sunday suggestion
lunch - paesanos
dinner - osteria

i'd like to get maybe another meal of italian. someplace that does a good gravy. i'd appreciate your thougths and suggestions for any changes

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  1. Your list is pretty good, I'd keep Zahav, Paesano's, and Osteria.

    I'd cancel lunch at Dinic's and go to the South Philly Tap Room or the Khyber Pass Pub, whichever is more convenient for you (SPTR is kind of deep in South Philly, away from your other places). I like Dinic's but you've already got Paesano's on your list and they make better sandwiches at Paesano's. Philly invented the gastropub and SPTR and Khyber are our two best ones.

    I'd also cancel drinks at Oyster House in favor of drinks at Hop Sing Laundromat instead. I suspect most of the recs you read for drinks at OH were from when Katie Loeb was tending bar there, she isn't there anymore. Hop Sing opened just recently and the drinks are fantastic. If you're staying in Center City you can walk there, it's in Chinatown.

    Osteria is the best Italian restaurant in the city but it's not a red gravy place. I'm not a big fan of those places in general, but if you want to go to the prototypical red gravy place, Villa di Roma in the Italian Market is it. The food isn't great but for a place like that it's good, and inexpensive.

    15 Replies
    1. re: Buckethead

      hop sing sounds perfect. i'm kind of curious what kind of rules are there and dress code for that place.

        1. re: Philly Ray

          As for the rules, they'll tell you them when you come in but they are: no talking on cell phones (texting/tweeting is OK), no photography. Also, it's cash only. Drinks are $10 each plus tax+tip.

          1. re: Philly Ray

            that's freakin awesome.

            i'll definitely be adding hop sing to the list. thanks for the suggestion. sounds exactly like the type of places i like to get a cocktail.

            1. re: cdub

              FYI, this gray archway is the entrance:


              There's an iron gate there now and a doorbell.

              1. re: Buckethead

                Good to know. Never would have found it otherwise. Thanks

        2. re: Buckethead

          I agree at nixing the Oyster House in favor of Hop Sing but I would keep lunch at DiNic's. Even with the inherent line, I think the food there is much better that what I had at Khyber. Besides, any foodcentric trip to Philly needs to stop at Reading Terminal.

          1. re: bluehensfan

            i'll definitely be going to the reading terminal. with the hype of dinics, i'd have to think i'd at least have to go. i'll keep paesano's too.

            1. re: cdub

              If you want something other than the pork sandwich at Paesano's (which is very good), I would recommend the Gustaio (which I like even better).

              1. re: Philly Ray

                Paesano's also makes an excellent italian hoagie, if the arugula in place of lettuce doesn't disqualify it. They use better cold cuts (and tomatoes) than the average place and the result is a pretty fantastic hoagie, I think.

                1. re: caganer

                  I'm sold. Thanks for the info.

                2. re: Philly Ray

                  I totally agree with Philly Ray about the Gustaio. It was really spectacular while I found the Arista to be a bit dry both of the times I ordered it.

                  1. re: bluehensfan

                    I'd say to you what they were telling another guy at the counter at Paesano's this past weekend... go with your gut. Go with what sounds good to you. Don't go with what Bobby Flay recommends if it's not what you would have ordered.
                    That being said, after a little experimentation the first half dozen times eating there, I now eat the same thing there every time: the Liveracce.

                    1. re: urbanfabric

                      Mmm, another vote for the Liveracce here!

                      1. re: mookleknuck

                        Well, as long as we are talking favorite sandwich, I'm fond of the Paesano. Also, I recently had the tuna because i was there early and some of the hot stuff wasn't ready, and it was really great if you are in the mood for that sort of thing.

          2. Modo Mio does "Sugo Sunday" on Sunday nights, it's a prix fixe served family style. I only went once when they first started doing it, so I don't know how it's held up, but they had awesome sugo (aka gravy) when I went. Definitely a better restaurant than the typical "red gravy" places around town.

            10 Replies
            1. re: barryg

              modo mio sounds great. maybe i should hit that instead of osteria though osteria sounds amazing.

              1. re: cdub

                I'd stick with Osteria. Modo Mio is excellent, but Osteria is better.

                1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                  Osteria for the requested "good gravy"? Really? I must have missed something.

                  1. re: Bacchus101

                    cdub already has Osteria on the list and wanted to add a red gravy place to the itinerary.

                  2. re: cdub

                    Not sure what type environs you are looking for relative to after dinner drinks: I do find the OH quite enjoyable. For a bit more upscale with great tenders and special drinks , the Ranstead Room or Franklin Mortgage may be enjoyable and interesting for you. The other Hounds have nailed the rest of your inquiry.

                    1. re: Bacchus101

                      +1 for ranstead or franklin mortgage.

                      i'd also suggest farmer's cabinet on 11th and walnut if the OP wants something closer to zahav.

                      separate bars for beer and cocktails- i think the food and beer (yes, i know it's rare beer, but still) is seriously overpriced, but the liquor is great. the cocktails ive had have been interesting and were made well.

                      i like the OH, but as buckethead mentions above, katie loeb is no longer there, so i dont think it's worth a trip

                      1. re: InSearchOfTacos

                        Speaking of OH, has anyone been there since the new chef started?

                        1. re: InSearchOfTacos

                          And speaking of Farmer's Cabinet, has anyone been there since the entire FOH and BOH staff quit?

                          1. re: InSearchOfTacos

                            thanks for the suggestion. i'll have to check out franklin mortgage on sunday for drinks. sounds great.

                    2. Just wanted to thanks all. My visits to places are as follows:

                      Dinic for lunch. Thought the brocoli rabe was the star of the sandwich. Ok. Didn't blow me away. The ice cream at bassets did however

                      Had dinner at osteria. The rigatoni with chicken livers is spectacular.

                      Had drinks at hop sing. Let me just say that this is my new favourites bar anywhere. Seriously, all should be happy that this is in Philly. I would be here every week if I lived here.

                      I then had paesanos. I realized why I should skip dinics. Simply spectacular. I'll come back every time I'm in Philly.

                      Dinner at barbuzzo. Honestly, a bit disappointed. Everything is ok. Nothing great. Didn't like the bartender insisting I get the marrow when it's actually pretty average.

                      Drinks again at hop sing. Like I said. My favorite new bar anywhere.

                      Thanks again all.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: cdub

                        Thanks for reporting on your selections. It is very helpful to hear opinions from beyond our borders.

                        1. re: cdub

                          Sounds good! Thanks for reporting back.

                          1. re: cdub

                            I really want someone to explain to me why Osteria's chicken liver rigatoni is so revered around here. Really. I LOVE chicken livers and cook with them a lot at home, in pasta, for pate, etc. I was so psyched to try this dish when I went to Osteria myself after all the praise here, and was so disappointed that I barely tasted the livers at all; it seemed like a good but rather ordinary Northern Italian Bolognese to me (though in my family we make bolognese with rabbit liver mixed in with the ground meat, not chicken livers.) I mean when the waitress told me "Oh you wouldn't even know it's made from chicken livers" I guess I should have taken that as a warning, as I actually LIKE the taste of chicken livers and want to know they're really there in a dish I'm tasting with their name prominently displayed on it.

                            1. re: sockii

                              Socci.. I remember your description which completely is counter to my multiple experiences there. I think you just had a bad night/batch. Osteria's biggest criticism has always been consistency.. be it pizza or pasta.

                              1. re: sockii

                                I havent eaten it in a while but my memory of the dish is not a strong taste of chicken liver but a mild liver flavor combined with the sage and other flavors. It's not a great dish because it tastes like chicken liver, it's a great dish because the chef managed to tame the liver flavor and balance the flavors so well. It's not a liver-forward dish and I don't think it is supposed to be. Sort of like how a good cocktail dampens the alcohol taste despite being strong.

                                Besides the possibility of an off-night it's also seems possible that since you are used to eating bolognese and other pasta dishes with liver in them, the mild liver flavor was something your palate was used to. I guess part of the popularity of this dish is that most people don't eat chicken liver that frequently.

                                1. re: sockii

                                  sockii, I did enjoy the chicken liver rigatoni. However it was a bit of a disappointment to me also based on my expectation. Of course my expectations were not the same as yours but I also found the dish to be a rather "ordinary Bolognese". Considering my disappointment in this entire family of restaurants and the raves of others I have concluded that my tastes must be, at best, "out-of-step" with what is considered excellent upscale Philadelphia Italian cuisine.

                                  1. re: Bacchus101

                                    I thought the liver flavor really came through but wasn't overpowering any other aspect of the dish. Really well done

                                    I was a bit disappointed with the polenta. Polenta, sweet sausage, and an egg. What could go wrong? The polenta had a consistency of undercooked grits. In comparison to the polenta at scarpetta, it really pales.

                                    1. re: Bacchus101

                                      I also had the tortelli with uni and thought that was excellent too.