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Barbuzzo – Birthday Dinner

When people ask me for restaurant recommendations, one place I regularly mention is Barbuzzo. It’s just great. And I can’t possibly imagine anyone not liking it. The food is superb, the place itself is adorable, and it’s just a lovely experience. My only reservation would be for large groups. Barbuzzo is just too small to be good for big groups. But it’d be perfect for a romantic date, girls night out, or dinner with the parents. Anyhoo, my last visit there was for my birthday. The cheese board! As a self-proclaimed cheese wuss, I’m sometimes reticent to go for cheese plates. But hey, it’s a new year, a new me, and I’m going to be more experimental, especially with cheese. With nothing overly of the blue variety on the plate, I enjoyed everything. I want more cheese boards!
I’m a sucker for octopus, so whenever I see it on a menu, there’s a good chance I’m getting it. This is the grilled mediterranean octopus salad with sopressata, fingerling potato, taggiasca olive, roasted peppers, cucumbers, herbs, and lemon. Whoo hoo! When cooked well, especially grilled, octopus is super tender. It gets a bad “rubbery” rap because of how many times it can be cooked poorly. This octopus was tender and smoky, slightly tart from the lemon, and rich with the roasted peppers and herbs. 
We thought it would be fun to try one of the pizzas, so we picked one of the very few that had meat! Here’s the prosciutto pizza with roasted grapes, gorgonzola, walnuts, arugula, and vin cotto. Perhaps the sound of grapes and walnuts and arugula on a pizza sounds odd, but to the tastebuds, it’s great.  
I don’t recall this exact dish, but it’s a strozzapretti pasta with duck, I think? This was my favorite dish of the night. It looks so simple… just some pasta with some shreads of meat in it. But dang, I could not stop eating it. The pasta was chewy and buttery and the duck was tender, fatty, and had a nice mild flavor. Oh it was so darn good!
And you have to end every Barbuzzo meal (heck, every meal!) with the salted caramel budino. It’s famous for a reason. So just be sure to order it. You’ll be glad you did!

Alla Spina

Alla Spina is a casual beer and food spot brought to you by Mark Vetri on N. Broad st. They really like their pigs here, judging by all the pig art in the place! Oh, and there’s also lots of pig parts on the menu. It’s also right around the corner from Route 6, Stephen Starr’s seafood joint. They’re trying to create a bit of a restaurant scene up on that section of Broad, so here’s wishing them some luck. There’s outdoor dining, weather permitting, and it’s nice and open and not at all stuffy. It really is a nice and casual place. 
Can you get more casual than pretzels? These are housemade pretzel bites with spicy beer cheese. See the cute little pig they get served in? I liked these quite a bit… warm and doughy!

You’re not in canada, but they serve their own version of poutine here. It’s served with a guinea hen leg bolognese and mozzarella curd. I wasn’t too crazy about the bolognese part. But the fries were good. 
Maple glazed fried chicken and fries! There was so much, E took plenty of it home as leftovers. There are those tasty fries again.
I had the fancy grilled cheese, with taleggio and roasted red peppers, served with green tomato conserva and homemade potato chips. Yum! That green tomato conserva stuff is amazing! I want to put it on everything now. And the roasted red peppers inside the grilled cheese was a nice touch.
While we were eating, we saw all the tables getting soft serve vanilla ice cream. It confused us a little bit. Then we found out that it was actually fiordelatte soft serve, not just plain vanilla ice cream, not like the thing you would get at McDonald’s. The flavor itself is more of a sweet cream. We got a bowl of it along with the famed donut bread pudding. The bread pudding was delicious, but I could have certainly gone without the raisins in it. The fiordelatte was also creamy and dreamy. This was a fun spot. Service was good and the food came out quickly. Although it’s a bit further away from the action of the city, but it’s kind of like a retreat from all the hustle and bustle.
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Stateside is a small plate spot that opened off East Passyunk. It’s small, cool, has a big focus on wine and whiskey, and serves up some delicious locally-sourced bites. E and I dined there a gazillion months ago and I’m finally blogging about it!
I’m pretty much of a weenie when it comes to cheese. I didn’t really grow up eating it (did they even have cheese in South Korea in the 70’s and 80’s?) so while I love mac & cheese and baked brie, I’m not someone who would be sad if cheese disappeared from the earth. But I’m trying to be better about it. We got cheese! Here is the bayley hazen blue cheese with smoked bacon caramel and the harbison with almond puree. Stinky cheeses are really not my thing, so while I tasted the blue, I was much more of a fan of the smoked bacon caramel. Smoked bacon caramel! Yep, just what it is – delicious caramel with a hint of bacon. They need to bottle this stuff. The harbison was great, smooth and mild.
An adorable mason jar of cauliflower and raisin pickles! I love fresh pickles. And considering that cauliflower is pretty boring plain, the pickling gave em just the right amount of flavor. The raisins were a surprisingly sweet touch.
E and I both love beets, so whenever we eat together, there’s a good chance that if beets are on the menu, we’re ordering it! This one had red and golden beets, plus shredded pear. And those little sprouty things I love.
Mmm… pork belly… crispy on the outside… with apples on top…
It ain’t no fluke that we ordered fluke! Ok, I’ll stop now. I’ve noticed that whenever E and I go eat, we also order fluke. So fluke and beets seem to be a common theme.
I rarely get to eat dessert when I eat out because I’m usually way too stuffed. That’s why I love small plates so much, as it’s easier to leave room for it. The chocolate torte! So small and cubic, but so rich and chocolatey.
But what I ordered is the dessert that everyone was talking about – the apple stuffed doughnut with vanilla bean caramel and candied bacon. It was dreamy, it truly was. I love apple stuffed anything, so I liked the donut as it was. But the caramel with candied bacon? Yes, please! We thoroughly enjoyed our meal here, and the service was great and friendly. We’re definitely going back to try some more small plates!

Stateside on Urbanspoon

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