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This Saturday in Philly, BYOB Italian or ....

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This is a really short notice trip, so many places are booked (at least according to opentable). Staying in Center City but would be willing to travel if necessary.

I'm usually looking for good Italian when in Philly -- liked Osteria in the past, Porcini was mostly a disappointment last time.

As for Italian BYOBs, I'm looking at Branzino and Caffe Casta Diva, but other contenders that are non-Italian are

- The Dandelion
- Estia
- Farmer's Cabinet

We stopped in at the latter for pre-Koo Zee Doo cocktails and were almost disappointed we weren't going to eat there, as the menu looked interesting. Koo Zee Doo, of course, was awesome but is not a choice this time around.

Any opinions?

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  1. Modo Mio
    Monsu
    Zeppoli

    8 Replies
    1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

      Wowzah. I am LOVING the Modo Mio menu.... alas, I just realized I brain-farted on our location. We're actually in the Rittenhouse area, so that place is a bit far off, but the brains and sweetbreads alone might make me wanna hop on the train.

      I'll check out the other places -- walked by Melograno several times and have heard good things.

      I'll check out Monsu and Zeppoli.

      ETA: OK, those two are also wahay out there.... NJ? Not happening.

      1. re: linguafood

        If it wasn't clear on the website, Modo Mio offers daily their $35 "turista" menu which includes your choice one dish from each section of the menu (excluding contorni) and dessert. Combined with BYOB it is definitely one of the best deals in the city, well worth a cab ride IMO, the food is really great. However it is very small and gets loud.

        Zeppoli is in Jersey but Monsu is in the Italian Market, 10 min or less cab ride from Rittenhouse. Same owner/chef as Modo Mio. But I'd choose Modo Mio over Monsu.

        1. re: barryg

          Agreed. Modo Mio is my preference over Monsu as well. Zeppoli is very good but difficult to get a last minute reservation.

        2. re: linguafood

          Download the Uber smartphone app. In 5 min you'll have a limo picking you up wherever you are in the city, and the trip will only be a bit more expensive than a cab (tip and all automatically paid through the app). Do the same coming back. No calling or flagging down uncomfortable dirty cabs ever again!

          1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

            Uber is great but it's more like twice the price of a cab, not a little more expensive. Still worth it especially if in an unfamiliar neighborhood or one where the cabs don't cruise as often. That side, it's easy to hail cabs both around Rittenhouse and where Modo Mio is. Around Italian Market can be a little more difficult.

          2. re: linguafood

            Zeppoli is just over the bridge, so that's like Center City to me (with no traffic, I live 40 min north of Philly)!

            It's well worth the schlepp. It's probably the best Italian BYOB in the area (and one of the best BYOBs period). Only downsides are you can't walk to it (although there is easy parking), and it is mega-noisy. Chef is ex-Vetri.

            1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

              "Zeppoli is just over the bridge, so that's like Center City to me"

              Heresy!

              1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                Went back last night. I agree. It is a terrific byob. It's noisy but for some reason it doesn't bother me as much here.

          3. Melograno.

            1. Agree with all of the above, but Cochon (not Italian) should also be on the radar. Often overlooked but great food.

              1. why has no one suggested Ulivo? have had repeated great meals there the last couple months. The gnocchi is out of control.

                If you're willing to go to south philly, which is just a subway ride away, L'Angolo is my favorite classic South Philly italian in the city. They have a seasonal menu, and really great ingredients.They are also BYOB.

                Please don't go to Estia or Farmer's Cabinet. If you want greek, you want Kanella, and it's BYOB.

                Farmer's Cabinet is perhaps the worst restaurant in the city. You might also look into Matyson, which is great.

                9 Replies
                1. re: alex1018

                  I, too, really like Ulivo. I feel this restaurant gets as much attention as his previous restaurant in Northern Liberties, Sovalo.

                  How about Le Virtu?

                  1. re: alex1018

                    Wow. Worst restaurant in the city? I thought that honor went to d'Angelo's! Well, worst Italian food I've ever had.

                    In any event, I can't comment on the food at FC, since we just had (very good) cocktails there.

                    I've been to Kanella which was nice, but I'm not interested in returning.

                    1. re: linguafood

                      Kanella is one of a few places that most people seem really like and I think overrated and underwhelming. Those other places where I am frequently at odds with general opinion are Osteria and Vedge, understanding that I just demure on issues regarding same.

                      1. re: Bacchus101

                        Agree completely with your three downgrades.l don't go to any of them anymore and regretfully l have a place 2 blocks from Osteria and still do not go anymore.

                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                          I've been to Osteria twice and liked it, but I don't feel like I have to go back -- it's time for something different. Plus, BYOB always makes the bill smaller, which is a bonus.

                          Morimoto, OTOH, is a place I'd always return to. Not this w/end, tho.

                        2. re: Bacchus101

                          i think kanella is inconsistent, and better in the winter. but some of the stews and stuff are flat out amazing. i've been underwhelmed by those other places at times too, but still enjoy them.

                          1. re: Bacchus101

                            oh and i also feel that way abotu modo mio

                            1. re: alex1018

                              That one l disagree with you, l am still a big fan.

                              1. re: alex1018

                                Have to disagree with Modo Mio. Have bern there many times and it never disappoints.

                        3. I suggest Fitler Dining Room at 22nd and Spruce if you can get a reservation.

                          1. Dimeos in an Andorra shopping center is a great Italian BYOB. It may not look like a spot from the outside becuse there is a khols and GNC next to it but this place serves really good food. Great pizza and the pasta is shipped in from Italy.

                            It is a small place only has about 15 tables and can get very packed.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Pros626

                              DiMeo makes excellent pizza but I wouldnt travel from Rittenhouse Square to enjoy it.

                              1. re: JanR

                                That is true. Quite a hike for pizza. I work in CC do you know of any places close to rittenhouse that have comparable Pizza? Im hoping to find a place for lunch one day.

                                1. re: Pros626

                                  Zavino is probably the one that I would recommend if you work near Rittenhouse. Bit of a hike but its not usually that busy at lunch. Bufad at 12th and spring garden is the other that comes to mind.

                                  Pitruco's food truck makes wood fired pizza's and is at Love Park on Mondays.

                                  1. re: Pros626

                                    Dolce carini on chestnut has awesome NY style pizza.

                              2. Left a message with the nice folks at Modo Mio. Might do same with Zeppoli -- if we're cabbing it for dinner, I guess it's all the same.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: linguafood

                                  I wouldn't cross the bridge in a cab, the city regulated fares wouldnt apply at that point -- at least not on the way back.

                                  1. re: barryg

                                    You're talking Zeppoli now, not Modo Mio, right? Actually, I wasn't nearly as intrigued with Z's menu compared to MM.

                                    Hope it works out :-)

                                    1. re: linguafood

                                      To overcome the taxi issue you could take the path train from Philly to Collingswood then its a mile to the restaurant. Easy cab ride.

                                      1. re: cwdonald

                                        For someone who lives in Philadelphia, it's not all that intimidating to train + cab to a NJ restaurant...but for someone visiting, it seems like an unnecessary hassle, especially given the number of perfectly awesome restaurants we have within the city.

                                        I agree with Modo Mio, based on the Italian BYOB question, although there are tons of options if they open it up to a wider question.

                                        1. re: PhillyA

                                          I would agree. I lived in Philly and now live in South Jersey, and honestly while I like some of the Italian BYOBs in Collingswood none so far have wowed me enough to say they would be worth the trip from Philly, especially for a visitor, just to dine there. Plenty of comparable places within Philly city limits.

                                      2. re: linguafood

                                        Yeah Zeppoli. It would be an expensive cab ride. Modo Mio is a 10 min ride from Rittenhous.

                                  2. Well, I could only get a 6:30 or 9:30 rez at Modo Mio, so went with the later time. They'll be in touch in case someone cancels for a more reasonable hour.

                                    Just in case I made an opentable rez at Branzino, to me the most interesting BYOB of all three (Melograno & Casta Diva being the other two).

                                    We'll see what happens :-)

                                    1. La Viola Ovest. You could walk.

                                      1. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to cancel our trip. I'll definitely keep Modo Mio in mind for next time.

                                        Thank you all for your input.