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Italian in Philly


brescd01
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I have been expanding my experience with continental restaurants in Philly, and because of my prior lack of experience, this means exploring well-known restaurants that have been around for a while. I wondered about La Famiglia, Il Portico, La Veranda, La Grolla, and La Locanda. Anyone recently been to these (upscale?) restaurants?

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I think you're talking about Penne. As far as I know it's still open. And their pasta is pretty amazing.

La Castagne is good and should be added to that list. Certainly you can't leave Tre Scalini off any list either. Not sure about La Locanda. La Famiglia is fantastic and probably has one of the best wine cellars in the city, as well as an excellent selection of digestivo like amaro and grappa for your post-prandial pleasure.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I've never eaten at La Buca, but I walked by last night and looked at the menu. It looked pretty good, with some solid pasta choices, including northern Italian standards that you don't see all that often here (like tortellini in brodo). And they offer half portions of pasta, so you can get a secondo as well. But I don't know if the food is any good... anybody eaten there?

Also, Modo Mio shouldn't be ignored. As folks have said, it can be hit-or-miss, but when it's on, it's very good, a real bargain, and a little more on the Italian end of the scale than most of the South Philly joints. I had a great dinner there on Saturday night...

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Jesus, I read La Grolla right off the Philly.com web site! Katie, LE Castagne is exactly what I was driving at, I didn't mention it because I am familiar with it.

How difficult learning about these places is, is demonstrated by this knowledgeable crowd's having nothing to say about Locanda Veranda or Portico, yet!

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By the way, I was looking for reviews for Le Castagne Katie and I found this funny one here

http://philadelphia.citysearch.com/review/11555443?reviewId=14856021

The reason I post its link is because we have argued over what consititutes reasonable patron expectations, because if you look "through" the subjective of the diner's account, I think the incident sounds accurately described, and because this review is why on-line reviews are so difficult to use, the writer was irate but I think it was an awkward situation for everyone. The acount does not in any way dissuade me from returning to Le Castagne to try it again.

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I ate at La Buca for years...last time about a year ago. I used to love the place. It looks like an Italian restaurant. I can see Michael Corleone eating there. Unfortunately La B has had a steady downward trend for about 5 years. Inattentive waitstaff, sloppy cooking etc.

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Without getting into an unpleasant discussion about reasonable diner expectations, I certainly think not expecting to be seated next to a drunken, slobbering, snoring deadbeat is within reason. Why the reviewer found the need to pack up his dinner and go puzzles me. I simply would have insisted on being moved away from the fray to eat my dinner in peace.

No way that customer would have made it past me at my bar. She'd have been ejected the minute she walked in that trashed. I've flagged bigger jackholes than that too, believe me. I threw out this meth head idiot at Chick's once for drinking the equivalent of an entire bottle of wine in what I deemed was too short a period of time. Then he started harassing one of my female guests who was having none of it. Out he went. He told me he'd never been flagged before. I told him he was clearly too much of an ass for that statement to even possibly be true. :laugh:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Without getting into an unpleasant discussion about reasonable diner expectations, I certainly think not expecting to be seated next to a drunken, slobbering, snoring deadbeat is within reason. Why the reviewer found the need to pack up his dinner and go puzzles me. I simply would have insisted on being moved away from the fray to eat my dinner in peace.

No way that customer would have made it past me at my bar. She'd have been ejected the minute she walked in that trashed. I've flagged bigger jackholes than that too, believe me. I threw out this meth head idiot at Chick's once for drinking the equivalent of an entire bottle of wine in what I deemed was too short a period of time. Then he started harassing one of my female guests who was having none of it. Out he went. He told me he'd never been flagged before. I told him he was clearly too much of an ass for that statement to even possibly be true. So then I told him I was bouncing him for being a liar. :laugh:

Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Katie, of course you are right. My point was, when we are searching for on-line reviews, using them is hard because I for one would not be dissuaded from going to the restaurant because they mishandled a drunk. And I have to get back to Le Castagne one of these days to try it again. If I were ever going into a place YOU bartended at of course, I would keep my arms at my side and stand at attention! Your are tough!

Edited by brescd01 (log)
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David:

Honestly, I can count on one hand the number of times I've really had to be hard on an obnoxious drunk. The above example stands out for me because the guy was such an idiot and had obviously been thrown out of countless bars in his day, that his pathetic attempt to act insulted and innocent was amusing to me. Another time there was a very loud group of young resident doctors from one of the local hospitals. Well dressed, well educated and exceedingly badly mannered. One young lady (and I do use that term loosely) was stunning but had a mouth on her that would make stevadores and sailors blush. And the more she drank the louder she became. After having several other guests ask me to ask her and her bunch to keep it down and doing so, and having a couple of my really good regulars move down the bar or leave, I told them that they were bothering the other guests and had to keep it down or leave. They argued, were insulting and tipped poorly. Classy bunch. :shrug:

I'm really not that tough. More often than not when in that (hopefully) rare situation where someone has slipped through the cracks, I handle it quietly and the same way I would if they became intoxicated on my watch. I keep refilling their water glass, I slow down their service a bit and will sometimes try and recruit one of their friends to "help me out" and be a hero by keeping an eye on their buddy who is beginning to worry me. If necessary, I just tell them I'm not comfortable serving them any more, but that's a next to last resort because it's an awkward situation for everyone involved.

You'd be surprised at how quickly some folks can turn from pleasant bar guests to dangerous scary drunks. Bartenders don't know if people are taking medications or not, or what they've had before they arrive at our bar and are in our care. The job requires psychological skills as well as vocational skills. You're host(ess) of the party, but you're also traffic cop, cashier, observer of human nature, part time therapist and baby sitter. It's not as easy as it looks...

Back OT, I'm glad that wouldn't dissuade you from trying a place again. I haven't been to La Castagne in some time, so perhaps I'm due back for a visit myself. It seems to get mixed reviews, most of the complaints being about the service rather than the food, but I'd rather check it out for myself than trust a random online review. Of course, the opinions of PA forum eGers are always given more credence.

Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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