Information about Philadelphia
Philadelphia Merits Place in Dining Hall of Fame
Psychiatric News
Volume 47 Number 4 page 27-27

It is safe to say that fine dining in Philadelphia has come into its own in the last decade. While it may not possess the decadence and sheer number of Michelin three-star restaurants that New York boasts, Philadelphia certainly offers personality and style in abundance.

Any discussion of haute cuisine in Philadelphia begins with James Beard Award–winning Marc Vetri, whose flagship restaurant Vetri (1312 Spruce Street, [215] 732-3478) is considered by many to be the best Italian restaraunt on the East coast. It only offers a $135 tasting menu, which former New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni hailed as “amazing,” singling out Vetri’s “goat whisperer” and “gnocchi whisperer” magic.

Less pricey but also sensational are Vetri’s Osteria (640 North Broad Street, [215] 763-0920), captained by Beard-awarded Jeff Michaud and offering the best pizza in the city as well as stunningly unexpected surprises like chicken-liver rigatoni, and Amis (412 South 13th Street, [215] 732-2647), a small-plate Roman trattoria that offers divine pasta options like squid-ink linguine with octopus.

Celebrity chefs have also made their presence felt in Philadelphia, with two of the Food Network’s Iron Chefs in Masaharu Morimoto and José Garces. Morimoto (723 Chestnut Street, [215] 413-9070) remains a singular mainstay for sushi, where you can even sample poisonous fugu to your heart’s desire, depending on seasonal availability. Garces, in contrast, has created an empire in a relatively short amount of time after collecting his James Beard Award, with a restaurant for any taste, from Spanish tapas at Amada (219 Chestnut Street, [215] 625-2450) and the Basque wine bar Tinto (114 South 20th Street, [215] 665-9150) to the best burger in town at Village Whiskey (118 South 20th Street, [215] 665-1088), and Peruvian-Cantonese creations at Chifa (707 Chestnut Street, [215] 925-5555). Kevin Sbraga, who has competed on “Top Chef,” is getting in the mix as well, having launched Sbraga (440 South Broad Street, [215] 735-1913) with standouts like foie gras soup.

Less TV famous but just as renowned in Philadephia are Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran, who have turned 13th Street into restaurant row. Their jewel, a Mediterranean kitchen called Barbuzzo (110 South 13th Street, [215] 546-9300), has gained acclaim as the best new restaurant in town, with caciocavallostuffed meatballs and a salted-caramel budino dessert that people can’t stop talking about.

In a city notorious for booing Santa Claus at a football game, clearly Philly expects people to be passionate. Michael Solomonov (also a Beard winner) offers a love letter to Israeli cuisine with Zahav (237 St. James Place, [215] 625-8800). Pierre and Charlotte Calmels channel their native Lyon, with bone marrow and foie gras dishes, at their French BYOB Bibou (1009 South 8th Street, [215] 965-8290).

Seafood fanatics can’t go wrong at either recently relocated Fish (1234 Locust Street, [215] 545-9600), home of a wondrous skate with spaetzle and truffles, or at bivalve and lobster roll haven Oyster House (1516 Sansom Street, [215] 567-7683). Gastropub aficionados will find custom Pat LaFrieda burger blends and Welsh rarebit at Pub and Kitchen (1946 Lombard Street, [215] 545-0350). Tashan (777 South Broad Street, [267] 687-2170) breaks new ground in haute Indian cuisine, Kanella (1001 Spruce Street, [215] 922-1773) offers changing Cypriot specials every night, and even vegetarians and vegans can get their fine-dining fix at Vedge (1221 Locust Street, [215] 320-7500).

Finally, credit must be given to Steven Starr, who in many ways made building restaurant empires fashionable in Philadelphia. In addition to shepherding Morimoto, he has stamped his name on every kind of eating establishment. He offers the two best steakhouses in the city— Barclay Prime (237 South 18th Street, [215] 732-7560) if you are looking for the quintessential, and Butcher and Singer (1500 Walnut Street, [215] 732-4444) if you are in the mood for a more retro “Mad Men” vibe. inline-graphic-1.gif

Yan Xuan, M.D., is a PGY-3 resident in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

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