Monday, May 10, 2010

La Viola, Philadelphia, PA

Ever since UD's epicurean spidey-senses first led us to this cozy, bona-fide Italian spot tucked away on a side street in Philadelphia's Theater District a couple of years ago, we have made it a point to return on each subsequent visit to Philly.  La Viola is the deal of the century and dishes up superb traditional Italian fare made with high-quality ingredients at Olive Garden prices.  I am always absolutely astonished that there's no entree on the regular menu priced at more than $15, and that none of the salads or starters cost more than $8.  In spite of the fact that I almost never order pasta dishes in restaurants (mostly because I haven't found too many that I didn't think we could make better at home), I always do at La Viola.  I don't know what they do, but their fresh pasta is amazing and their red sauces are hands-down the best I've ever had...tangy, a bit spicy and uber-fresh-tasting (and the fact that the pasta dishes are delivered to my table by a staff of handsome, dark-skinned young men with beautiful Italian accents in no way influences my opinion on the matter ;) ). And, gets better!  La Viola is a BYOB with no corkage fee, so you pick up your own wine on the way over and avoid that pesky 200-300% markup you get at most restaurants. 

We had the opportunity to visit La Viola again last week (with the somewhat dubious in-laws in tow this time).  Some outstanding bread appeared almost, fresh and crispy on the outside, and moist and tender on the inside.  SO good!

The hub-unit and I started with this massive bowl of  Zuppetta Di Cozze (farm raised mussel in traditional spicy plum tomato sauce) that set us back a whopping $7.  They were absolutely divine, and the bread made a great carrier for the leftover tomato sauce.

My better half selected the Vitello Alla Viola (veal medallions with fresh mushrooms garlic and prosciutto in a rich veal sauce).  Priced at $15, it was deemed "sublime".

The menu was enough to inspire Dad to temporarily toss his heart-healthy ways out the window, and settle on the Vitello Pomodoro (breaded veal cutlet with fresh mozzarella and plum tomatoes in a rich tomato sauce) also $15.  He didn't share with anyone, but his licked-clean plate at the end of the meal told me all I needed to know.

His wife, Carole (the "picky eater" in our group) decided hesitantly to try the $13 Farfalle Marinara (bow tie pasta with shrimp in pomodoro sauce). She could not stop raving about how delicious it was, or about the size of the shrimp.

Last but not least, the Girl Who Never Orders Pasta did so, yet again.  My Linguini Pizzaiola (linguini pasta with veal, olives and capers in a spicy marinara sauce) was one of the most delicious pasta dishes I have ever eaten...loaded with tender ground veal, large green olive slices and capers...oh, and that sauce!  *swoon*.
Undeterred by our tightening waistbands, we rallied and ordered a couple of desserts to share:  A chocolate mousse cake and a slice of Italian rum cake...both of which were well worth the pain of starting a new diet the following Monday.

La Viola on Urbanspoon

My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.


  1. BluOrchid2 - LoraMay 12, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    So where are the pics of the handsome, dark-skinned young men with beautiful Italian accents, hmmmmm???

  2. My in-laws were sitting right there...I can't have them knowing what a hussy I am, although I think they already suspect. lol