Philly's old-school Italian tradition gets a charming update from the duo behind 13th Street's Barbuzzo and Lolita. The hidden back patio and intimate little room, with red banquettes and string lights, rises a bit more on style than genuine gravy-pot soul. The food is solid enough with the ambience to rise above its cliched corporate competitors for a pleasant meal. In the context of our present-day Italian scene, though, the fare lands in the meatball middle of the pack.
Garlic bread; b+v+p meatballs; Negroni-glazed lamb ribs; mushroom arancini; pepperoni marinara mussels; Italian wedding soup; shaved salad; gnocchi with prunes and brown butter; Sunday gravy; lemon chicken; swordfish piccata; roast pork sandwich (lunch); whole-wheat penne with parsnip cream; Italian milk & cookies; hazelnut cannoli; blood orange-basil water ice.
The focus is on simple, affordable Italian table wines, with 10 choices for $10 a glass or $40 a bottle, including a Sardinian Vermentino (La Cala), Falanghina (Rocco del Dragone), or a basic red Valpolicella (Tenuta Monticello). There are a couple of good beers. But go for the fun , pre-bottled cocktails, especially the rum and amaro-bittered Italian Job.
Tight quarters and swinging retro music add up to a noisy 94 decibels. Outside is quieter. (Ideal is 75 decibels or less.)
Lunch Monday through Saturday, 11:45 a.m.-2:45 p.m. Dinner Monday through Thursday, 5-10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, until 11 p.m.; Sunday, until 10 p.m.