With its dark wood furnishings and fragrant dishes, Oloroso, a kind of dark and fragrant Spanish Sherry, is the perfect name for the newest restaurant by Townsend Wentz of East Passyunk’s Townsend and Fairmount’s A Mano.
At 1121 Walnut Street, in the former space of Petruce et al, Oloroso sits conveniently between East and West sides of the city. The vibe is warm and woody, with a beautifully lit and stocked mahogany bar featuring a huge selection of sherry, Spanish wines by the glass, and even white and red Sangria. The bar and the long narrow dining room are divided by a magnificent glass-enclosed wine room, complete with a cozy wood oven and spectacular wall mural by Bill Strobel, a Philly artist and friend of the owner, which was inspired by work at The Art Museum of Catalonia.
Oloroso’s food is layered with intense flavor. Think wood oven roasted tapas (tapas means finger foods or savories in Spanish), and an impressive array of Spanish hams, charcuterie, and cheese. With over 21 small plates of assorted vegetables, seafood, and meat, Oloroso’s menu had more than enough to satisfy every palate.
I was elated to find many of the classic tapas I love, including boquerones, blistered peppers, croquetas, tortilla de patate, and patatas bravas. Our tuna was scented with sesame and orange, the tortilla de patate melted together with caramelized onion, and the black squid ink rice topped with super crispy calamari.
Garlicky littleneck clams in sherry were also perfectly succulent, accompanied by a wood oven-roasted eggplant that, infused with ginger, honey, and Spanish peppers, tasted both savory and sweet.
The third course of the menu offers entrée-sized portions of fish, seafood, and meat, and ends with the famed Paella Oloroso: a traditional paella of clams, shrimp, mussels, calamari, chorizo, Calasparra rice, and saffron, available in both small and large portion sizes-- perfect for sharing.
We finished our evening with orange flavored crema catalana (a creamy custard similar to crème brulee), and a fabulous hard-but-still-creamy Extramedura Spanish sheeps milk cheese, which complimented one another and the dinner perfectly.
Hope Cohen is a chef, author, and food/media consultant. She has hosted over 400 cooking shows, working with Philadelphia chefs as well as those both nationally and internationally renowned. Hope likes to wander and is known to travel far and wide in search of interesting food, drinks, and destinations.