In just a few short months, Fishtown's Wm. Mulherin's Sons has turned into Philly's hippest and happening-est restaurant. A few weeks ago, Philly Mag's Jason Sheehan allotted three stars to the restaurant under the El, and this week Craig LaBan did the same: three bells for the Fishtown beaut.
From the excellent cocktails, wine list, and service to the gorgeous setting, topflight pizzas, pastas, and succulent wood-grilled meats, this is the grown-up destination restaurant fast-rising Fishtown has been waiting for.
LaBan and executive chef Chris Painter have a long history together; the Inquirer critic followed him from restaurant to restaurant within Stephen Starr's empire (Painter was once Starr Restaurant's culinary director), doling out three bells after three bells, before the chef opened his own Starr-partnered restaurant Il Pittore (which he closed to pursue the Mulherin-venture). Il Pittore, of course, received three bells, and now, with Mulherin's "must-order starters", like veal tartare, a "refreshing hamachi crudo paired with pistachios and grapefruit bursts", or "the city's best octopus", as well as a dry-aged porterhouse for two which "should become one of Philly carnivores' new lust objects", Painter nailed the triple, yet again.
Said co-owner Jennifer Sabatino, ""We quickly learned that people in Philly didn't want our original vision. And to be honest, the food didn't reflect who we were, and I think everyone knew it as soon as they ate it." But then spring rolled around, and the Sabatino's made some serious changes in their restaurant. Slowly but surely, things turned around for the two-year-old restaurant.
Aldine is a great restaurant.
One of Erace's favorite dishes "unites pork belly and squid. The former is braised and deep-fried, the latter cooked sous-vide till meltingly tender. They cozy up with whispers of ginger and chili oils, fresh citrus, mint, Thai basil and chicharrones into a salad of exciting textures and bright flavors."
And then there are the mussels, "arranged in a shallow bowl with unexpected ingredients like pistachios and little falafel; they come with a plank of terrific house-baked sourdough."
It took a bit longer than expected, but Aldine has turned itself around, and right before our eyes, it became one of Philly's elite contenders in our smoldering dining scene.