Tuesday, February 03, 2009

La Viola : Philadelphia

La Viola is actually becoming fairly popular among my classmates and is one of the few Italian restaurants that my gf will actually volunteer to go to. (Take that last part with a grain of salt. While I do trust her taste, her experience with Italian food is somewhat limited, as is mine).

Anyways, it was past due for me to this place out.

They start off with some marvelous Italian bread. The crust has a satisfying, but not overly hard crunch, with an soft moist inside that's like a pillow for your tongue. This is accompanied by olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar and a few other spices.

Girigliata Di Calamari - grilled calamari marinated in lemon juice garlic and peppered extra virgin olive oil. For me, this ended up being the defining portion of the meal. The emphasis was on the calamari, with an almost grilled naked taste. The calamari was tender, with blackened parts, providing a delicious smokiness. Olive oil, bits of olives, peppers, tomatoes and salt accompanied and only slightly added coloring to the calamari flavor.

Ravioli alla Viola (Lobster ravioli) - Sauce was very smooth, maybe a little too much so (after all, so is chef-boy-r-dee's sauce). The redeeming part of the dish for me was the complexity of the lobster bits in the ravioli, with the sauce and raviolli shell playing second/third fiddle to the lobster taste. I kind of wish for something more bold, but this is certainly would be a safe choice for someone with a more conservative palate.

Stuffed Veal with Spinach - I can't find this on their menu and all I can remember is that this tasted like a pork meatball. The meat was slightly a little too dry, but tasty nonetheless.

To me, the food comes across as Italian comfort food, done well. It'd be great for inviting those whose palettes you aren't very familiar with.

Food aside, I loved the atmosphere. The waiters walk everywhere with a focused, must-get-everything done now mentality, giving the place a lively energy and promoting active conversation at your table.

Finally, the price is relatively low for the dishes and it's BYOB. How can you go wrong with that?

All in all, there's a reason why my classmates like this place - La Viola manages to match them on all of their needs.

La Viola
253 S 16th St Philadelphia, PA 19102 (Map)
(215) 735-8630

BYOB, cash only

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