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Saturday, June 18, 2011
Vetri in Philly
Vetri opened its doors in 1998, offering a Prix Fixe menu on weekends only and a la carte dining during the week. Wildly successful, the restaurant went Prix Fixe only in March. The set price for a nine course Italian meal is $125, not including tax, tip or wine. With reservations made well in advance, we secured our table at Vetri. We were seated immediately by a gracious hostess. The dining room was small and cozy, with only 35 seats. On our hand painted menu, their were three dinner options: meat, seafood, or vegetarian. The server explained that we could choose certain items on the menus, or we could put ourselves in the capable hands of the Chef. I opted for the "vegetarian" menu, but asked to pass on the entree with the quail egg. Our server was happy to oblige. Our first course was a selection of vegetables, with a marvelously creamy balsamic vinaigrette, positioned alongside a selection of small hors d'oeuvres. My side of the platter was all vegetarian and husband's was meatier. Each morsel was more divine than the last. My favorite was a vegetable torte.
House made bread with kalamata olives in olive oil was a nice touch
after the sampling of appetizers.
Here I am afraid I won't be a very good food blogger, as I did not capture all of the courses with the camera before they were eaten. I am afraid the dessert never had a chance. Also, I tried to keep the camera out of sight, so as not to be intrusive to other diners as well. Also, so caught up in the momentous delights of the fare, I did not take copious notes one would expect. I do have a fairly good memory of the most memorable dishes, and quite a few photos to accompany.
Next out was a signature dish called the Sweet Onion Crepe with White Truffle. The dish was very small, and left me wanting more. The onions has been cooked for eight hours. That's right...Eight hours. Now imagine how that tasted. It was that good. Paired with the white truffle sauce...Amazing.
Out next came Spinach Gnocchi with Brown Butter. The little balls of gnocchi were pale green and I tasted little Parmesan flaking. I don't know how the chef created little balls of pasta so rich and melt- in- your- mouth delicious, but it was incredible. Maybe my favorite dish of the night. My plate had four, but my husband snatched a ball off the plate before I remembered to take a picture.
At some point, I missed a dish or two, and unfortunately, the menu strayed a bit as the chef got creative, so I am not sure what I missed, but I do remember the Fettuccine with Morels. The little ribbons of pasta were so buttery soft and delicious. The mushrooms were tender and complimented all of the fabulous flavor of the pasta.
The Secondi was the final plate before dessert, much to the disappointment of my husband, who I think was expecting this presentation to go on all night. Alas, out came my Porcini Risotto with Blueberries, a fitting end to any meal. The courses had more mushrooms than I usually have in my meals, but each mushroom was prepared in such a way that made it unique.
I have to mention that we opted for the Wine Pairing with dinner. At $90 per person, I am not really sure if the wine tasting was worth it, but the Sommelier's choices were very nice, and the man himself was warm and friendly. We got very excited every time he neared the table.
Dessert was a Chocolate Polenta Souffle. It's hard to go wrong with chocolate, and this was no exception. No sooner did the server clear away the last of the plates, a final plate of macaroons and little tasty treats was brought out. As we sipped on our coffee, we decided that this meal was in many ways similar to our meal at French Laundry. Given the choice between French and Italian cuisine, I'll choose the Italian almost every time. Vetri was more laid back, more comfortable. French Laundry was white tablecloths and a procession of formal, uninterrupted service with little chatter. I think I prefer the former. Eating at Vetri was a more intimate affair. The service was impeccable, and the food was outstanding. We were handed little totes on our way out, filled with some apple mini muffins, and copies of our wine list and menu.
If we make our way back to Vetri anytime soon, I think we'll skip the wine pairing and get a bottle instead. I'd do the Vegetarian Menu all over again. Even my husband agrees. As far as entrees go, I was the winner that evening.