Greg Root and Nick Kennedy's five-month-old wine bar and mediterranean restaurant on Frankford Avenue, ROOT, got its first review from Craig LaBan this week, and all-in-all, the restaurant was able to show the critic what it does best: captivating wines and wine-friendly food in a "sleek" space Laban described as a "polished departure from the reclaimed chic aesthetic that marks many of the neighborhood's projects."
The critic draws near-identical design comparisons to Rittenhouse's burger and wine bar, Rouge, and confirms that the similarities between the two restaurants weren't just a coincidence:
Root aspires to capture the same communal bar energy and open-to-the-streetscape spirit that Rouge pioneered for Rittenhouse nearly two decades ago.
Almost everything on Root's tight Spanish-Italian menu was praised, from the "crisply fried chickpeas" elevated by a "Moroccan seasoning blend from New York's La Boîte and crackly fried sage", to its "masterpiece" veggie burger, which Kennedy was able to coax the same "texture and savor" which makes its "beefy counterpart" so satisfying.
LaBan's only let-downs were Kennedy's pastas ("The textural match of shelled mussels and clams against potato gnocchi was odd, though the seafood and bacon flavor of that sauce, amped by bottarga bread crumbs, saved it from a complete miss.") and the price tags on some of the larger menu items.
Overall, LaBan's dining experience ended with two bells, making it a "very good" addition to the Fishtown bar and restaurant scene.