As our sixth anniversary loomed, we needed a place to celebrate. We could have easily gone to New York City or DC, as both cities are doable drives from Philadelphia with an abundance of amazing food options.
However, as luck would have it, a restaurant with world-class dining just opened three blocks from our house. We decided to stay local and try the new restaurant, Serpico.
An anniversary dinner on South Street would have been unheard of just a couple of years ago. However, there’s a quiet revolution happening on the street, and restauranteurs like Peter Serpico are leading the way.
Serpico’s unassuming restaurant is hidden behind a black brick wall that belies its South Street locale.
Some architects would complain about Serpico’s disharmony with the streetscape. However, don’t let the stark, utilitarian exterior fool you.
Behind the black shutters is a space that’s alive with dining electricity. The room features a large bar surrounding an open kitchen. When we say open we mean wide open. Diners are literally seated on top of the chefs who toil away at the globally inspired and innovative menu.
But Serpico is not David Chang’s restaurant. The food is excellent and exciting in its own way. The menu is eclectic and diverse, blending world cuisine with local, seasonal ingredients.
We left our house at 8:25 and arrived right on time for our 8:30 reservation. (You’ve got to love a five-minute walk.) We got two seats at the long L-shaped counter, where we had a superb view of the open kitchen.
Although there is a full bar, the restaurant currently allows customers to bring their own wine and not pay a corkage fee. Let’s hope that this policy sticks.
We started the dinner with a bottle of Chante Cigale Chateauneuf-du-Pape White, direct from our basement. It went well with the house-made rice cakes that were served instead of bread.
Food at Serpico
We don’t always share food, but we decided to share for the anniversary meal. Our first shared plate was egg custard and caviar. The chawanmushi custard was definitely one of the gifts Serpico brought with him from NY – a luxurious splurge at $25, but an appropriate opener for our anniversary meal.
Served in a cute cocotte, the creamy custard topped with Siberian caviar disappeared quickly since we practically inhaled the delicious dish.
As we sipped our white wine, out came dish number two. We can never resist house made pasta, and this dish with hand torn pasta, chicken sausage, braised snails and crispy chicken skin did not disappoint. The al dente pasta mingled well with the earthy snails and crispy chicken skin.
After the pasta, it was time to pull out our second bottle of wine. For the anniversary meal, we chose a bottle of L. Preston from one of our favorite Sonoma wineries, Preston of Dry Creek. We had bought this bottle back from a trip to California several years ago, and it was perfect timing to enjoy the bottle of Rhone style red wine. Rich and full-bodied with elements of spicy black pepper, the wine was perfect for the next part of our meal.
Since it was a sharing kind of night, we were drawn to the Elysian Farm lamb ribs for two. The lamb from the Waynesburg, PA farm was the star of the night. Perfectly prepared, the meat retained a juicy medium rare quality while being meltingly tender at the same time. All this was enhanced by the complex spice rub on the outside.
2foodtrippers cannot live on meat alone, so we were thankful that the lamb came with tasty vegetable side dish.
We sipped the end of the red wine as we pondered how to cap off our anniversary meal with dessert.
Dessert at Serpico
We decided to share not one but two desserts. First up was a bowl of goat cheese sorbet with poached rhubarb, pistachio, shortbread cookie crumbles and mint This dessert was from the semi-sweet portion of the dessert menu.
From the sweet section of the menu, our second dessert was yuzu curd with chamomile cracker, lemon foam, whipped cream and fried rosemary. We have an ongoing debate regarding foam, but we both agreed that it was used well in this interesting dessert.
Overall, the anniversary dinner was a success. As we made the five-minute walk home, we commented that we would certainly return well before our seventh anniversary. Hopefully we will be able to bring our own wine next time too.
Viva the South Street revolution!
Serpico is located at 604 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147.