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Two Critics Agree: Garces’ 24 is Good, Not Great

And Res Ipsa hits the gnocchi out of the park

24 Wood Fired Fare

— It’s a critical party at Jose Garces’ newest restaurant, 24 (full name: 24 Wood Fired Fare), as both the Inquirer’s Craig LaBan and the Courier-Post’s Emily Teel drop by and both offer kind words to the Schuylkill River-adjacent spot, open since last November. LaBan seems to start out a skeptic, pondering why Garces would get into the saturated Philadelphia wood-fired pizza game, particularly given his prior focus on all manner of Latin-oriented food. “Garces' take here does not add anything especially novel to the trend,” LaBan critiques. But LaBan is ultimately positive, saying that while the pizza is on the weaker side, 24’s other offerings are simple, well-done, and affordable. Pizzas were in some cases too soggy or too crispy, although the white-based pies fare better, says LaBan. A caesar salad with Brussels sprouts is “the likely star” with a “zingy” dressing and “savory nuggets of hot pancetta”, and a cheese and pepper pasta with crispy sunchokes is delightfully simple. Creative cocktails and good wine close the deal, making it two bells. []

— Teel isn’t as skeptical of Garces’ Italian food ambitions, but is a little dubious about the ambiance, saying it “feels more like dining at an Italian restaurant in an airport”, partly due to a mix of loud music and a take-out window. She’s perhaps a little tougher on the food than LaBan, finding the same Brussels sprout salad to have a watery dressing, and the same pepper and cheese pasta was beginning to clump. But lemon and parsley calamari with hot Calabrian sausage paste is a winner, and Teel doesn’t have the same problem with overly wet or crispy pizza, although the meat on a lamb sausage pie dries out somewhat. Good, but not great, she writes — three stars in all categories. [Courier-Post]

— Billy Penn jumped into the restaurant reviewing game this week, snagging critic about town Adam Erace to do monthly write-ups for them. His first mission is the two-month-old Rittenhouse cafe-and-Italian restaurant Res Ipsa. He notes that sometimes restaurants overcomplicate food and that “sometimes it’s nice to just eat” — and that’s what ex-Zeppoli chef Michael Vincent Ferreri’s Sicilian dishes allow for here. Pasta is both the focus and the success story, from a gnocchi arrabbiata bringing both sweetness and heat, and tender fazzoletti. Outside the pasta, it’s imperfect: a roast plate has chicken and calamari that “mumble” (despite well-executed veggies). Erace also took on the day side of the cafe, praising tomato soup and kale salads alike. The breakfast sandwich could do with some more spice-based punch, Erace says, but it’s good nonetheless. On a scale of 0 to 4, it’s two Quakers. [Billy Penn]

24 Wood Fired Fare

2401 Walnut Street, , PA 19103 (215) 333-3331 Visit Website

Res Ipsa

2218 Walnut Street, , PA 19103 (267) 519-0329 Visit Website