Luke Palladino's first Philadelphia restaurant has a fan in Inquirer critic Craig LaBan, who gave Palladino's on East Passyunk a ringing three-bell endorsement this weekend. LaBan awarded the Italian steakhouse high marks for filling a necessary niche — that is, bringing a great steak to South Philly — as well as masterfully executing more delicate arts like handmade pastas and this Northern Italian classic:
The focaccia di Recco, fast-baked in black steel pans, is straight from Liguria, but a complete novelty here. I predict its magnetic delicacy, with almost phyllo-crisp wafers of dough stuffed with a micro-thin sheen of drippy, tangy cheese, will soon become one of the city's most coveted plates.
LaBan had only a few minor quibbles with the restaurant, including "too many flat-screen TVs in the dining room for [his] taste," occasionally over-sweet touches on savory dishes, and somewhat lackluster desserts. All were outweighed by a long string of raves about the food, as well as great wine and "noticeably professional" service.
· City Paper's Adam Erace weighs in on Franky Bradley's, where Silk City's Mark Bee has paid tribute to the location's history with a "Twin Peaks meets VFW hall" space. While that description alone should be enough to pique significant interest, Erace's feelings on the food and drinks are mixed, with some high points and some low.
· Philadelphia Weekly's Brian Freedman also took something of a nostalgia trip this week to file on the Olde Bar (fka Old Original Bookbinder's). He applauds the masterful fried clams as well as the way the Garces Group has managed to "[bring] the past into the present, without peddling in either preciousness or hokey nostalgia."
· Phyllis Stein-Novack revisits the past in her own way with a brunchtime check-in at the recently resurrected Hawthorne's for the South Philly Review. Happily, she finds that the rebooted version is still easily worth the half-hour weekend wait, and awards the cafe 3-and-a-half toque tips.