Monday, December 11, 2006

Il Cantuccio

Our former roommate Andy and his fiance, Kim, were in town for our Holiday party on Friday night and were staying through Sunday to see the Temple vs. Maryland women's basketball game. Saturday night they had no plans, so Alison and I met up with them for dinner at Il Cantuccio, an Italian BYO in Northern Liberties.
To start, we got the Misto, a plate of mix Italian assorted items according to the menu. Starting to the right of the spoon, grilled asparagus, roasted potatoes, zucchini fritata, grilled green beans, tomato stuffed with peas, roasted red peppers, black olives, fresh mozzarella cheese, marinated mushrooms, bruscheta, and broccoli. The shining stars were the green beans and the fritatas. And I hate to say it, but I was terribly disappointed in the olives. For such a good overall restaurant, they could have done better than corner store black olives. A shame.
Bread with pesto and red pepper
Fresh bread with pesto and some sort of red pepper spread. I'm fairly sure it's a white bean spread with the addition of red pepper for slight flavor, but more for color. Either way, the mixture of the pesto and the mystery spread on the warm crusty bread is fabulous.
Andy ordered the same thing he did last time visited this restaurant even though before ordering he swore he'd never had it before. Pictured is Andy's dinner, Toscana, homemade sausage with white beans in a red spicy sauce next to toasted bread.
And it was ironic that Kim called Andy out on his repeat order when she had lasagne on the visit as well! This was distinct in that it was bolognese lasagne and last time I believe it was without meat.
I had one of the nightly specials, Pappardelle with shrimp, asparagus and fresh crab meat, served with a brandy cream sauce. This was really delicious. Here the problem is really aesthetic, I wish they'd left the asparagus in larger pieces so they had a real presence in the dish.
Red Snapper
Alison had the fish special, baked red snapper with arugala, served with mussels and clams in a white wine garlic sauce. So pretty and so delicious.

All around, a great meal. We had three bottles of wine between the four of us, and they were all leftover from the holiday party, so it was nice to splurge a little bit on dinner. I love Il Cantuccio, they just need better olives and I wish they fit my graduate student budget a little bit more!

Il Cantuccio
701 N 3rd St
Philadelphia, PA 19123
(215) 627-6573

And remember the 3 Rules for dining at Il Cantuccio
1. No cheese on seafood
2. No credit cards; cash only
3. They charge $5 to share plates

Additionally, they're not shy about hurrying you along if you haven't finished your wine by the time you've paid your check. It's a small place with maybe 8 tables, and they like to get people seated since there is absolutely no waiting area. Be prepared to make a reservation and still wait a bit.
Il Cantuccio in Philadelphia


  1. RICHARD KEIM said...
    Without a doubt, the rudest service staff I have ever encountered. It was so bad that we thought we must be on Candid Camera. These people must have been trained by the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld. Food was good but I would rather KFC than be served by these people who must have day jobs at the DMV!
    msto said...
    I'm sure it is Richard who is the problem, not the people there. Its a family that runs it - maybe, just maybe they had a bad day or something, but come on, there is authenticity in being in someones kitchen and being fed. thank them for having you. the food is excellent and made with a lot of heart. I've always had a good time with the staff there as well.
    Anonymous said...
    I ate there twice. Once it was excellent. Love it. The second time we all thought the food was horrid. What happened? I know someone else who said exactly the same thing. used to love it, now they don't go there. Who knows afraid to go back.
    Anonymous said...
    The bread dip is made with eggplant I think. The sister restaurant is la locanda which is AMAZING!

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