We list the 10 must-try restaurants of the season.
A Cleveland chef better known for his TV persona than his food opening an Italian restaurant in Atlantic City—sounds like a complicated recipe to pull off. But Michael Symon has found an able partner in Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa as the chef/partner of Angeline, a sprawling, stylish, energetic ristorante named for Symon’s mother. A la New York’s Carbone (and with prices to match), Angeline traffikcs in chicken-Parm nostalgia. However, serious talent and deft execution underpin the play—from perfectly cooked dry-aged steaks anointed with aged balsamic to deconstructed porchetta wreathed in twangy agrodolce fruit mostarda.
Shade swirled around the opening of Barcelona, a branch of the Connecticut-based Barteca group’s Spanish wineand- tapas room—a chain restaurant on East Passyunk? The horror. But to Barteca’s credit, their investment has transformed an Avenue relic on a marquee corner into a vital, attractive destination that seems to be busy every night—and have you seen the garden? Where once was a wedge of useless concrete now grows a shaggy little evergreen forest that improves all neighbors' quality of life. That the serviceable menu reads like what Jose Garces was doing a decade ago is almost beside the point.
After opening hits in Midtown Village and University City, the Zavino/Tredici crew headed to the Main Line this year with Enoteca Tredici, a chic barn of a space that mimics the subwaytiled, white-marble appeal of the 13th Street original. The Bryn Mawr bar has already become a social scene, with Main Liners mainlining martinis and Italian reds before rounds of panseared spinach gnocchi and Arctic char with tangy eggplant caponata. Popular dishes from the Midtown Village outpost, like the spaghetti squash and tuna crudo, have made their way 30- plus miles down the road, but there are new plates you'll only fi nd here, like Albert's chicken parm laced with chili honey.
Chad and Hanna Williams rescued a Rittenhouse legend when they took over the 42-year-old Friday Saturday Sunday. The couple has made the address their own with a sophisticated menu featuring dishes like caraway-spiced pork trotter gemelli, escargot with buttermilk biscuits and umeboshi plum tarte tatin with white miso ice cream and yuzu curd. The pair has also carved out a stellar bar scene, dispensing creative pours with conversation-starting names. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursday as well.
This all-day restaurant in the ground fl oor of University City’s FMC Tower has quickly become a social hive for the underserved, west-of-the-Schuylkill crowd. Not only is it beautiful, with mod brass chandeliers, coral-pink and teal accents and huge windowwalls, but the dining and drinking comes correct thanks to the three-member team from New York’s Rebelle that came south for this venture. Especially of note is Patrick Capiello’s fascinating wine list—all available by the halfbottle, and the staff is generous with tastings—and Melissa Weller’s pastries and desserts. Her fruit-filled slab pie is a lifechanger.
Just down the boardwalk from his restaurants at the ill-fated Revel, Tropicana facilitated Jose Garces’ return to Atlantic City last year with Olón, a coastal South American dining room inspired by the chef’s childhood summers on the beaches of Ecuador. Nearly every seat in the restaurant faces a wall of fl oor-to-ceiling windows framed in gossamer curtains and looking out over the blue-gray Atlantic Ocean; while AC casino restaurants generally aspire to nowhereness, Olón celebrates the Jersey Shore’s best asset. The view makes the vivid ceviches, fl aky empanadas and crispy whole fi sh taste even better.
More so than the suave amaro cocktails, the live music, the menu that features colorblocked spumoni, crisp Caesars in wooden bowls and one spectacular raviolo with a wobbling egg-yolk center, Palizzi is great because it has heart. Joey Baldino took over the 100-year-old Italian-American hangout at the request of his uncle, who ran the place from the 1950s, before he passed away. Thus, Baldino has not only preserved a piece of South Philly culture but improved it for and exposed it to a new generation. You still need to be a member to get in. Better start making friends with the people who were lucky enough to snag a membership card early on.
When The Palm shuttered in 2016 for renovations, rumors swirled that the venerable steakhouse was closing for good. Where would the Philly elite power-lunch over Cobb salads, some wondered? And what would become of their hard-earned caricatures? A little gossip didn’t hurt the hype surrounding the grand reopening last July, boasting updated interiors and a leaner layout. Signature dishes remain, with new plates like the Nova Scotia lobster roll and Colorado veal rib chop beefi ng up the menu. As for the caricatures? One rumor was true: The Palm’s bare walls are a blank canvas for a new generation of diners.
In Latin legalese, res ipsa means the thing that speaks for itself. In Rittenhouse, it means one of the city’s fi nest new examples of all-day dining. Run by the A-team of chef Michael Vincent Ferreri, Stock’s Tyler Akin and ReAnimator Coffee’s Mark Corpus and Mark Capriotti, this Walnut Street boite transitions from day to night like a great pair of jeans. Mornings bring neat egg sandwiches on housemade English muffi ns. Butternut squash soup and chopped salads glossed in mushroom vinaigrette follow at lunch. And at dinner, Ferreri, a veteran of Zeppoli and Zahav, crafts some of the most outstanding pastas in town, especially the fazzoletti electrifi ed with preserved citrus and bottarga.
In the short time since opening Royal Izakaya with Cantina Los Caballitos owners Stephen Simons and Dave Frank along with his father, Masaharu Ito, Jesse Ito has emerged as the city’s vanguard sushi chef, and he’s not even 30 years old. Ito grew up in the industry at his parents’ longtime New Jersey restaurant, Fuji, and he’s brought that deeply instilled sense of discipline and traditional Japanese cooking to his serene sushi counter in the back of Royal’s dim dining room. Ito offers two-to-three seatings a night, where diners are treated to uni tastings and nigiri of Japanese pike mackarel, beltfi sh, kinmadai and more fl own in from Tsukiji market.