Alla Spina – Philadelphia, PA
My two experiences at dining destinations run by Marc Vetri could not have been further apart from each other. The first was his flagship “Vetri” which was an amazing out of body experience, and the other was “Osteria – Moorestown Mall” which is now out of business and not a tear was shed from me about the closing after the terrible meal I had there. With the news of Mr. Vetri supposedly “selling-out” to Urban Outfitters I was wondering what the truth was, and what I can tell you, is that food does not lie. As such, I would pop in to the more relaxed setting restaurant Alla Spina (AS) and start out with an appetizer of shrimps.
The shrimp were Louisiana gulf prawns with citrus butter vinaigrette and they were downright delicious. From head to tail they were cooked perfectly, seasoned wonderfully, sweet, salty, and beautifully juicy to bite into. I was thrilled with the way things started out at AS, but as my visit at Osteria – Moorestown Mall proved, things started out amazing there as well and then went downhill quickly, so I was slightly hesitant to cheer AS just yet. Next up would be their North Philly sausage cheesesteak on a pretzel roll.
Let me tell you from experience since I was born in North Philly, this was not like any sandwich I had ever eaten during any of my time living there. This “sandwich” was just AMAZING on every level. It was made from a nice house-made pretzel roll, then stuffed to the gills with a house-made black pepper sausage with no casing that were cut into tiny charred morals of mouthwatering meat wonderlands, topped with caramelized onions the way every place that lists caramelized onions should cook them, and if it could not get any better, it was splattered with a beer cheese with a kick created from cream cheese, asiago, cayenne, and Allagash White that just dripped all over the place and I did not care one bit. Then if that was not enough, it came with home-made old-bay chips with a crab dip that was fantastic on its own and was devoured with the same intensity as everything else. Bravo to whoever came up with this combination and it gives the term Philly Cheesesteak at whole new meaning. If sandwiches like this were easily found in North Philly, I may not have ever left, but I am happy to visit AS whenever I need another one instead.
Well I can see why Urban Outfitters bought Mr. Vetri’s restaurants. Even though I had a bump in road with Mr. Vetri, for the most part I have nothing but praise to say about my other two experiences. From atmosphere, service, food quality, and flavor, he has made sure they are exactly where they need to be and with Urban Outfitters wanting to expand their horizons in the food sector, to me it will be money well spent and a brand that currently means excellence and hopefully will continue to do so in the future. Whether the restaurants purchased stay the same or not, I can honestly say I am a fan of Marc Vetri and think this move will be beneficial for all parties involved.
Five out of Five Stars