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LaBan Gets Poetic About Royal Izakaya’s Fishy Successes

And out in NJ, the new Catelli Duo is fine

Royal Izakaya

September Queen Village newcomer Royal Izakaya already got the thumbs-up treatment from Foobooz’s Jason Sheehan a couple of weeks back. This week, the Japanese pub extracted a similar reaction from Craig LaBan at the Inquirer. Actually, LaBan seems even more impressed (Sheehan found a few faults, but still gave props for adventurousness in those realms). LaBan waxes lyrical about the “very special” izakaya: “A gastropub pioneer's vision for a tavern where Tokyo meets Philly over chashu pork wrapped in pillowy buns, grilled skewers, and karaage chicken wings that crackle with serrano heat in tangy vinegar and soy.” The seafood from the father-son Ito duo in the kitchen gets the most poetic treatment, between “sweet ivory discs of truffle-dabbed live scallops”, and “Turkish bluefin tuna belly so marbled with fat it dissolves into an Omega 3 hum”. LaBan deems sweet black sesame and dashi with blanched spinach, and a sesame-soy glazed burdock root salad his favorites; a too-rubbery octo sunomono salad is the only flop he encounters. Three bells. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Meanwhile, there’s no review from Sheehan this week, and Adam Erace’s first write-up for Billy Penn is still pending, but Emily Teel at the Courier-Post is out in New Jersey at Lou Imbesi’s tidy new-ish operation in Moorestown, Catelli Duo — the second edition of the restaurant after its Voorhees home base. Teel declares the thorough menu, split between entrées and small plates “designed to please everybody” — in a good way, apparently. Short rib-stuffed meatballs are “tender, clementine-sized beauties”, and a truffle polenta shines in spite of the fact it has “no discernible truffle”. Catelli’s “more is more” philosophy does lead to flaws, though, says Teel. Veal cutlet cabonara drowns in rich pasta and fried egg, and breaded, fried, stuffed long hots have a little too much simulteneous action. The friendly service also has a few lapses, but it’s still three stars. [Courier-Post]

Royal Izakaya

780 South 2nd Street, , PA 19147 (267) 909-9002 Visit Website

Catelli Duo

400 NJ-38 #1367, Moorestown, NJ 08057 Visit Website