I totally adore Frank Bruni’s writing. His headline today caught my eye: Michael White Plots Dominion Through Pasta. How could I pass that up? I enjoy reading about how chef White pursues his passions. I like how he’s defined his vision and works towards it. His ability to work diverse concepts under the Italian umbrella intrigues me. How is his food, I wonder? Now that another best friend has moved to NYC, I imagine I’ll have the opportunity to find out sooner or later.
Tonight I head out with the Italians to Apollinare, an Italian-owned restaurant in Northern Liberties, a Philadelphia neighborhood better known for its gastropubs and hipster crowd. Its owner, Fabio, is highly motivated to make the place succeed. While he didn’t speak of plotting dominion, the restaurant’s homemade pasta is the best in the city, in my humble opinion. They make their own bread, too.
I got to thinking, though: my 4 friends and I shared appetizers, two plates of pasta and a pizza. We ordered two $40 bottles of Sicilian nero d’avola (a wine that is otherwise inexpensive — this label, Sedara, could be found for $13 online). Though the waitstaff service was far from professional, they included a 20% gratuity on our bill. We each ended up paying $53 for some pasta, prosciutto and wine. How can Italian restaurants *not* make money?
Our pasta dishes were super simple: gnocchetti with black truffle and gli strangozzi, a typical pasta lunga from Umbria with spicy red sauce. They were perfectly executed. Eating them was a pleasure, indeed. As was spending the evening with friends.