Thursday, March 10, 2011


Busy week means no time for blogging but also means I have to lots to write about - oh cruel irony. Quick dinner and some drinks last Thursday at Illuminaire at 23rd and Fairmount. While the fiancee was getting her haircut next door at Beehive, I had a few beers, watched the Flyers game and chatted with co-owner Gary Pennock who I know from my previous life in the steel selling game. Illuminaire is his full time job now and I have to say I'm a bit jealous.  Illuminaire is an Italian/mediterranean place with a focus on pastas and pizzas made in their custom made oven. Not quite as fancy as the imported brick oven at Stella, or the crisp crusts at Zavino, the pies here are a few bucks cheaper but still tasty and a make for a great rainy night with some antipasto and some good wine.

The restaurant features a sweaing copper covered bar, filled with locals on the night we visited, with a selection of about a half dozen beers on tap ranging from Stella to Sam Adams to Palm. The open kitchen is dominated by the gas fired pizza oven that lets you watch the magic happen right in front of you if you get a counter seat. Behind that is a meticulously designed dining area with beautiful wood floors and paneling and room for outdoor seating in the warmer months. Gary mentioned that they are planning on installing a second bar outside come this spring.

We started off the meat & cheese plate, nicely presented with some good prosciutto, kalamata olives, mozzarella, shaved parmesean, and a strange addition of gorgonzola crumbles that were tasty, but tough to eat.

We split a small pie with pesto sauce, sauteed onions and mushrooms and fresh basil. The pesto sauce tasted home made, and gave the crispy/chewy crust some great flavor mixed with the onions and mushrooms. A few slices were left over that sadly had no home since we were going out to meet friends after the meal.  Illuminaire is on our normal circuit for two reasons - 1.) I know the owner and 2.) It's close to her salon. But we've eaten there with friends on a couple occasions and they always ask "Why have we never heard of this place before?". They definitely could use some marketing help, but I think it's simply a solid neighborhood bar/restaurant putting out comfy Italian food and leaving the trendy stuff for the big boys. Check it out next time you're in the Fairmount neighborhood. They're also on the upcoming  Bunny Hop tour on Thursday April 21st - always a fun night if the weather is good.  

Food Baby Rating: One Baby - It's a Girl! 

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