Wednesday, July 18, 2012


With all of the Italian restaurant in Philly, I chose one called Le Virtu, located at 1927 East Passyunk Avenue. Their website read, "The inspiration for Le Virtu (The Virtues) comes from our experience at the tables of family, friends and farm restaurants all over Abruzzo. Every dish we prepare is rooted in or inspired by Abruzzese culinary tradition, ingredients or philosophy. We serve the cuisine of the shepherds, farmers and fishermen of Italy's wildest and most unspoiled region."  I knew I wouldn't be getting a plate of lasagne or meat balls and spaghetti.

Le Virtu's owners are Francis Cratil Cretarola and Catherine Lee (who gave me a list and description of the appetizer platter).  Executive Chef Joe Cicala worked on a menu tasting beginning with the Affettati Misri, selection of house-cured salumi and assorted antipasti.  It consisted of : capicolla, pancetta (pork belly), guanciole (pork cheek), loriza (pork loin), prosciutto d'anatia (duck prosciutto); ricotta allo zafferano (saffron-infused sheep milk ricotta); eggplant oreganata (mrinated eggplant), peperoni anostiti (roasted peppers); and cipolle e carote agrodolce (pickled red onion and carrots).  I'm so happy that I was able to try burrata, fresh mozzarella stuffed with what appears to be a combination of ricotta and cream.

I was most interested in having rabbit this evening since I saw it being prepared at D'Angelo's.  In fact, that is where Joe gets his rabbit.  I first tried it in an appetizer portion of fresh ribbon pasta in a rabbit ragu.  That was followed by rabbit "porchetta" style served with lemon potatoes. 

One specialty of Joe is a thick single strand of pasta that he created from simply flour and water.  

Desserts are the responsibility of Angela RAnalli.  I had the Napolione al Cioccolato e cocco...a flourless chocolate cake with coconut pastry cream along with cherry panna cotta made with amarena cherries.

I also took a few photos of the garden with its fabulous mural and herb wall.   

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