Craig LaBan continues his lovefest with Stephen Starr and awards Ill Pittore three big bells. LaBan gives high marks for the creative selection of extruded pasta shapes and crispy-skinned suckling pig, but mostly approves of Emperor Starr making good on his promise to go partners with longtime corporate chef Chris Painter on the project.
"Are we goin' to do this restaurant, or what?" Painter recalls asking Starr last year, exasperated after working on his sixth company restaurant in three years. The chef behind Tangerine, Angelina, Stella and Frankford Hall, who also touched at least six others, had seen this script before...causing him to leave for a few simmering years. Painter's return came with a pledge that this time would be different."
Expect to pay through the nose for some mediocre wine, though, warns LaBan:
"You'd do better to buy a bottle of La Spinetta Barbaresco for $62 at the State Store nearby on Chestnut Street, pay Il Pittore's $35 corkage fee, and still come out $103 ahead of the restaurant's $200 price."
Adam Erace heads into the suddenly white-hot Fishtown neighborhood for a visit to the Interstate Draft House, which once was home to Moe's, the biggest nuisance bar in the 'hood. He loves Chef Scott's "Latin influence into a menu of American bar staples. Cotija replaces Parm on the Caesar salad. Nachos are larded with creamy, lime-spritzed black beans. Clutch wings get rubbed in achiote and glazed in honey flamed with ancho chili powder." Also, the Ranch dressing dipping sauce tasted like Wite-Out. [CP]
Brian Freedman visits Joe Scarpone's Ulivo in Queen Village and finds the visit almost "perfect." The following dishes were perfect: Polenta, which was both perfect for the weather, cooked perfectly, and looked like a perfect French toast; Tagliatelle, which held onto a perfect amount of pork ragu; Salmon, which was cooked perfectly, but boring; and Carnaroli rice pudding, which was perfectly creamy. [PW]
THE BLOGS: Bridges, Burgers, and Beer heads to Nick's Charcoal Pit in Deep Soufilly and happily demolishes the filet mignon sandwich, 22nd and Philly is in love with the caramel macarons at Miel Patisserie, Taylor at Mac and Cheese Review went veggie at Birra with mixed results, and Two Eats Philly visited Philly's best Thai spot, Circles, and swoons for the Red Curry, but ripped the Duck Pad Thai for being deep-fried to oblivion.