Barbuzzo's truffle and egg pizza, Adsum's logical consequence cocktail and Twenty Manning's TMG Burger

Adsum | Progressive American Cuisine
In a year studded with buzzworthy openings, perhaps the biggest—and most hush-hush—was Adsum, a collaboration between Kar Vivekananthan and chef and first-time restaurant owner Matt Levin. A well-informed menu of bistro fare strikes a comfortable balance between Levin’s highly touted culinary acumen and his unmistakable affection for food that’s fun and far from precious despite such smart ingredients. On a recent visit, tater tots, arranged upright like tiny sentinels, were fried a light golden brown, as if they had tanned on the beach for the day. Their silky interiors were matched with a whiskey- and bacon-infused green-goddess whipped ranch dressing—a subtle reminder that ketchup is not even considered for these tots. A favorite of the evening was the crusty, crunchy fried chicken with collards, and the Adsum burger is sure to be a contender in the city’s ongoing run for best of the bun: a hefty, shareable rendition dripping with farmhouse cheddar and savory pancetta-onion fondue. The impressive yet modest beer list has enough muscle to stand up to such hearty dishes, but best to begin the night with a round of craft cocktails, including standouts like the Elixir Classique, made from apricot and orange liqueurs, and a chat about the academic novelties— books, beakers, typewriters—that decorate the bar. 700–02 S. Fifth St., 267-888-7002;

Barbuzzo | Mediterranean
Call them what you will—restaurateurs, retailers, neighborhood pioneers, even—but Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran just keep cranking out one winner after another in Midtown Village. Their latest is Barbuzzo, a homey Mediterranean affair serving dough in all of its lovely forms, from just-shy-of-al-dente gnocchi with pancetta and roasted heirloom butternut squash to paper-thin pizzas decked out with Brussels sprouts leaves, truffles and a deliciously yolky farm-fresh egg. Meatballs are like Grandma used to make them—if only she made them with house-ground short rib and pork and carved out a gooey caciocavallo center. Dessert is a must, particularly the budino—otherwise known as Italian pudding—laced with vanilla bean caramel and sea salt. Turney and Safran’s penchant for BYO-centric restaurants has been put on hold here thanks to a comfortable bar that’s home to specialty cocktails, craft beers by the can and wine by the quart. Barbuzzo may be the star pair’s sixth venture, but it’s certainly their best yet. 110 S. 13th St., 215-546-9300;

Philadelphia Bar & Restaurant | Gastropub
Long home to a stable of hit-or-miss clubs and a smattering of the city’s most coveted tables, Old City has landed its first certifiable gastropub with the recent opening of Philadelphia Bar & Restaurant. PBR, as this corner spot has been affectionately dubbed, is a first-time venture for co-owner and front-of-house face Nicolas Moore, who has Jordan “Red” Sauter, former chef de cuisine at Modo Mio, leading the kitchen. Head here for eggplant fries with a creamy goat cheese dip and a pork-belly-laced riff on the reliable BLT or a satisfying porcini-rubbed skirt steak. A chocolate pot de crème was a surprisingly smart finish and perfectly tempered thanks to a generous sprinkling of sea salt. PBR’s industrial environs get authenticity points for the original steel beams and exposed brickwork, which nicely frame the casually dressed crowd. 120–22 Market St., 267-253-9438;

Twenty Manning Grill | New American
The affable Audrey Taichman remains the city’s top hostess with the mostess at her enduring Twenty Manning, now known as Twenty Manning Grill. The name change was just one of a few revamps: spot-on café décor, an updated menu that’s globally inspired but locally sourced—thanks to chef-partner Kiong Banh, who remains a force here—and a bevy of cool new cocktails. The revised menu boasts salads, burgers, raw-bar selections, snacks and sides and heartier plates like steak frites and pan-seared scallops. Also new is the “Daily Show,” a weekly roster of feel-good dishes like lobster pot pie or a brisket sandwich. Happily, version 2.0 retains that can’t-put-your-finger-on-it charm and strong neighborhood presence that first made it a winner more than 10 years ago. If you haven’t dined here in awhile, Twenty Manning Grill deserves another visit. 261 S. 20th St., 215-731-0900;

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