We wanted the best of the best. The best art, the best food, and the best city experience.
The reason behind our quest for the best was a good friend from Germany had arrived and we wanted to return the boundless hospitality she shared with us as our host during our trip to Europe a year ago.
For the art, we picked the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, with its world renowned impressive collection of Impressionist and Modernist paintings, which relocated several years ago to the Parkway Museum District (www.barnesfoundation.org).
For the art, we'd chosen the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia with its world renowned impressive collection of Impressionist and Modernist paintings. It relocated several years ago to the Parkway Museum District (www.barnesfoundation.org).
But where to eat?
To answer that question, I consulted my friend, Larry Davis, who lives in Philly. Larry had made some all-star recommendations before, including the famous Han Dynasty, a place so beloved by my daughter and I, that we visited there the next three times we went to Philadelphia. In fact, I loved Han Dynasty’s food so much, that during a meal at my mother’s house the next day (Thanksgiving) I broke out the leftover garlic pork in to eat in place of one of her potato side dishes, much to my mom’s disapproval. Sorry Mom, it was too good to resist! That's the type of recommendations Larry is good for.
For this trip, Larry recommended Pizzeria Vetri, a new wood oven pizza boutique opened by Marc Vetri, who owns the fine-dining Vetri and the more casual Osteria.
He’s received several awards, including the James Beard Award for “Best Chef Mid-Atlantic” in 2005. He's competed on Iron Chef and scored a win against Michael Simon with veal being the secret ingredient.
I didn’t know much about him, and rather than do further research I decided to review the restaurant on it own terms. (http://pizzeriavetri.com/)
However, the inside decor was spacious and modern. In the back of the room was the impressive Renato pizza oven, and long rectangular Bavarian-style tables provided for friendly family style seating. Since the day was so beautiful we headed back out to the sidewalk and settled in.
Upon being seated, we ordered a pitcher of Victory Kolsh and a selection of three pizzas to share.
The Victory Kolsh was a perfect fit, light and carbonated, with a sweet undertone, perfect for a lighter outdoor meal. We relaxed in the sun and took in our surroundings, we spoke with some curious passers by, sipped at our beer and enjoyed the company.
After we started eating the waitress brought a complimentary Melanzana, with roasted eggplant, San Marzano tomatoes and stracciatella and oregano.
The pizzas were as colorful as any painting could be... each round dough a blank canvas dabbled with diverse toppings, expertly combined to compliment each other like the individual drops of paint on an impressionist painting.
Alone each ingredient would taste good enough, but combined, they shined.
The salty prosciutto complimented the creamy bufala mozzarella, the sweet fennel balanced the sausage, the eggplant on the Malanzana was perfectly cooked. And the crust ~ bubbly, chewy, crispy ~ in fact, it was the best I have had this side of New York.
We barely talked by this point; instead, we ate... and ate. As we finished, I sat there for a few moments, stuffed and sated, wondering how I would get enough motivation to walk across the street. But an order of cappuccino ice cream perked me up, until we got the energy to saunter over to the Barnes Foundation to spend the afternoon with other works of fine art.