Thursday night was our semi-annual trip back to Modo Mio, where it all started. I took the fiancée there for our first date over three years ago.
We always go with the menu turista, and why not? For $34 a person, you get an appetizer, pasta, secondi, and dessert. This is what restaurant week is supposed to be. This isn't a Steven Starr restaurant - people come for the food, not the "experience" or to be seen. The interior is sparsely decorated, but it's always busy, so make a reservation a few weeks ahead of time. They offer a Sunday pix-fixe (called Sugo Sunday) that might be our next visit. No menu, just lots of good hearty southern Italian food.
The waitstaff is incredibly well versed in the menu and always friendly. We've gotten the same server a few times now, and most have been there for a few years. No rookies here.
Forgot to bring the camera, so no pictures for this post. You'll have to just believe me that the food is this good. They also just updated the menu, so most of what we got isn't in the online version posted at their website.
The first taste was a chicken liver pate brucshetta with golden raisins that melted in your mouth and had a great balance of sweet raisins and earthy pungent chicken liver. The house baked bread is crusty on the outside and sweet and chewy in the middle. Served with seasoned olive oil and a dollop of sweet creamy butter that is a notion of what's to come.
Appetizers were a perfectly seared scallop that was oh so tender inside on top of braised short rib shreds and porcini with an intensely flavored reduction sauce. I had the crab & ricotta cake, topped with roasted sweet rep peppers and shredded pecorino. You wouldn't immediately think of crab and ricotta being a good mix, but the salt and creaminess of the ricotta goes great with flaky hunks of crab meat.
Next up was the pastas. They've updated the gnocchi with porcini mushrooms, peas and gorgonzola cream that was filling yet light enough to remind you that spring is here (despite the temperature outside). I got the fresh fettucini with shrimp, chick peas and spicy red sauce. This is also new to the menu. The fettucini noodles were house made and fantastic. The shrimp and chick peas were a great addition and the sauce was tasty, but kind of watery. This might have been the only misstep of the whole meal.
For our mains, she got the seared skirt steak with olives and mozzarella. Cooked perfectly, with a great contrast of flavor offered by the salty/briny olives and the rich mozzarella. I went for the braised veal cheek with shaved parmesan, fried egg & cauliflower that was heaven on a plate. The richness and fat of the veal cheek against the fried egg and parmesan is something to experience, not just taste. You might get emotional.
Dessert was tiramisu and a flourless choclake cake with mint pesto. We each loved ours - she the chocolate and me the tiramisu. I like chocolate, but usually prefer something more savory like cheesecake. The little morsel of chocolate cake was dense and rich though, and the mint pesto is one of the strangest and best additions I've seen on a dessert plate. It was like eating a girl scout thin mint, but you can't keep this in the freezer - or can you?
Free shots of sambuca cap off your meal. But no need to rush. They have a full espresso and coffee menu as well. We've never been encouraged to hustle out the door as you are at some other BYO's in the city. Just another reason that we keep coming back to where it all started. I was lucky enough to get a kiss after dinner that night, and it's been getting better ever since - her and Modo Mio.
161 West Girard Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19123
BYO. Cash Only.
Sugo Sunday 4pm-8pm
Food Baby Rating: Twins!!