Seems ages since I simply went out to dinner with a friend. Lori invited me to try out Carluccio’s a small Italian BYOB in her neighborhood, the Italian Market. Glad we did.
What strikes me most about the place is the friendly service. Our waiter clearly loves the food there. The chef is a young guy who came out to chat with a table of three of his friends, then asked us how we liked our meal. They offered us a complimentary shot of homemade limoncello. I felt like I was visiting an old friend.
Like all of the other South Philly Italian places I’ve visited, I find the menu to be somewhat uninspired. With nothing remotely unusual or creative, I had a hard time choosing what to eat, and ended up breaking my recent vegetarian patterns and picking ossobuco.
Served in a huge portion of slightly overcooked saffron-scented risotto, the cut was several inches thick, and, unfortunately, nowhere near as tender as it “should” be in the classic preparation of the dish. No lemon zest or parsley as far as I could tell, but I do recall seeing a bit of rosemary.
But here’s the thing: it didn’t really matter. This was definitely the best South Philly Italian food I’ve had in the past nine years I’ve been living here. Maybe it’s because the young chef is executing his family’s recipes and serving them up in the most unpretentious of ways. Maybe it’s because I haven’t actually eaten meat in several weeks and was just intrigued by its textures and flavors. Maybe I’m simply getting less picky. Whatever the case, I’m optimistic about Carluccio’s future, and wish them all the best.
Next time I choose Italian, though, I want something I’ve never had, or at least something I don’t believe I can cook better on my own.