September 29, 2012


Consistently ranked one of the best restaurants (if not the best restaurant) in Philadelphia and easily hands down, the best Italian restaurant in the entire city, Vetri is actually not a prominently know restaurant among many people.  Although not in the limelight as much as Stephen Starr, the Marc Vetri's portfolio of impressive Italian restaurants have heralded him just as much fame. Vetri, is easily the star in the entire portfolio - once an a la carte restaurant, Vetri now only serves a 7-course tasting menu that changes monthly.

The interior of the restaurant is well-furnished yet homey. Everything from the stone walls to the quaint wooden tables and chairs says rustic Italian.  However, you would never know from just looking at the dining room that this is one of the highest standard restaurants in Philadelphia on par with the likes of Le Bec Fin.

So here goes my attempt at digesting this intimidating restaurant.

apples with parmesan
fish sandwich
foie gras with apricot jam on toast
chilled farm vegetables
balsamic vinaigrette
homemade bread with olives

The meal started with an ensemble of amuse bouche including the most delicious bowl of raw vegetables I have ever eaten. They were served on ice and chilled to a delectable temperature. A perfect bowl of crispy baby carrots, radishes, squash, cucumber, and artichoke hearts. Despite the last time we had foie gras which was a little overwhelming, we were quite happy with the small portion we were given this time around.

axis venison tartare with parmesan grissini
 corn flan with quail egg
 crispy sweetbreads with plum gastrique
 sweet onion crepe with white truffle
First round of appetizers included vension tartare and corn flan. The vension came all the way from Texas (I'm guessing from some sort of grass-fed farm). The dish was seasoned lightly and the meat itself was very lean. The corn flan was creamy and cooked perfectly with an oozy quail egg on the inside - how they managed to do that, I have no idea.

The second round of appetizers consisted of sweetbreads and onion crepe. As soon as I saw on the sweetbread on the menu, I knew I just had to try it. It always amuses me to see super provincial ingredients become a part of "high" cuisine. For those unfamiliar with sweetbread, wikipedia has a mechanical description that's pretty informative. Anyways, the sweetbread was delicious, just a tad less crispy then I was expecting but the inside was creamy and tender. The sweet onion crepe is one of the signature dishes of the restaurant with the onions being cooked for over 10 hours before the dish itself is assembled.
spinach gnocchi with brown butter
stuffed pasta
almond tortellini with white truffle
chestnut fettuccine with wild boar ragu
squid ink linguini with dungeness crab and uni
48 day dry aged beef ribeye with heirloom bean trifolati
Next came the handmade pastas, after the initial 2 or so - we were pretty much stuffed already. The spinach gnocchi was chewy and tasted of spinach as opposed to the usual starchiness of pasta you taste in vegetable pasta. A great thing if you love spinach - which I do. I love love loved the stuffed pasta which had what I'm guessing was minced pork or beef on the inside. The wild boar ragu and beef trifolati tasted very similar. There were generous portions of meat which were cooked tenderly and heaping portions of parmesan to accompany it.We got most of it packed up and it tasted just as good the next day :) My favorite dish was hands down the squid ink linguini. Ever since my trip to Venice, I get super excited whenever I see squid ink on a menu. This dish was amazing, the squid ink was in the pasta itself and it was served with big chunk of crab and creamy uni. It also tasted a lot lighter (which I prefer) compared to the other pasta dishes.

stuffed guinea hen breast with chanterelles
The main course was stuffed hen with chanterelles mushrooms. There was also a foie gras stuffed quail with summer melon which I forgot to take a picture of! At first the dishes looked so similar, I thought they were the same. The hen had a very thick layer of fat which was rendered down to a nice crispy texture.

peach sorbet
petit fours
apple dessert with cinnamon ice cream

We asked to stay away from the chocolate dessert options given the heaviness of the meal itself and got a beautiful looking apple pastry instead. The bottom was cooked crispy and golden brown and the apples on top were cooked until they were soft but still firm. What we also really loved was the peach sorbet which came before the main dessert dish itself.

Overall, a spectacular and very memorable meal for a lovely celebration. Will be a very long time before I get to come here again but hopefully not that long!

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