C19 Cichetteria Venezia, Philadelphia

Dave and I are in a very serious competition right now.  I mean, a lot is at stake here.

I’m not sure if I mentioned this to you in the past year or not, but Dave and I are using a heart rate monitoring program with my gym called “MyZone”.  Without going completely into the schpeel, MyZone is a belt you wear while working out that measures your heart rate.  Depending on your age, gender, weight, height, and resting/max heart rates, the program will design personal heart rate zones that apply to only you.  Each zone is designated a color (the prettiest and best part of this) and a point value for those zones depending on how hard your working, or your effort.  Since it’s all personalized, the points make it possible to compare workouts to people who are different than you (you know, since guys burn a ton more calories than girls… heavier people than skinny people, etc).

You get your own website to keep track of your workouts and your progress.  This program has absolutely helped me step up my workout game and in turn, helped me lose a lot of weight.

If you’re still following… Dave and I are currently in a MyZone challenge against each other to see who gets the most MyZone Points in March (aka who is working out the most or hardest).  The loser has to take the winner out on a date night in April planned by the winner.  Like I said… a lot is at stake here.

Here's what a Kickboxing class looks like on the MyZone system.  Blue to Green to Yellow is least to most effort exerted.  Great workout, right?

Here’s what a Kickboxing class looks like on the MyZone system. Blue to Green to Yellow is least to most effort exerted. Great workout, right?

Our current standings are:  Beth @ 3153 & Dave @ 3043.  I’m barely holding onto my lead!  You could hardly tell I want to be the winner and choose date night 🙂

Just Stelly saying bye before we leave for our date night!

Just Stelly saying bye before we leave for our date night!

Our last date night was also chosen by me.  I took Dave to a restaurant near where we live called C19 Cichetteria Venezia.  I had actually been to C19 for a happy hour dinner with a group of girls- loved it, and have been telling Dave we have to go since.

C19 is a medium-sized restaurant specializing in fresh, seasonal, Venetian-Inspired cuisine.  It has a bunch of tables in a room with the bar, and then larger tables in the back.  The walls are covered with Italian words that are beautifully hand-painted.  While it has that darker, romantic feel it also is a little funky with the bar covered in orange and red tiles, making it a great spot for happy hour, a date, or just a nice dinner out with friends.

I do also have to mention how wonderful the service is here.  You can tell that the service works as a team, as someone will fill up your water, someone else will take your order and serve your food, another person will clear your plate, and about two other people will check in on you and make sure you’re okay.  Everyone is super friendly and you can tell how much they love the food (and drinks!).

My friend from Penn State, Elisa, and her husband go here all the time and told me to introduce myself to the manager, Kevin.  I had done this during my first visit but it was months before and I figured I should just do the same again.  Once I introduced myself, Kevin not only stopped by to chat about some new items on the menu… but he remembered me.  He remembered who I was with (a bunch of CHOP doctors… lucky girl, right?) and where we were sitting.  Whoa.  Now you have to believe me about the great personalized service here, right?  (Elisa will also tell you a story about a time they asked about a dessert no longer on the menu.  The C19 team went out to buy the ingredients and re-created it for them that night.  WOW!!!!)

Anyway, let me get onto our actual meal.  My tummy is grumbling just thinking about it.  

We started our date night off right with a spicy, sweet, and very creatively named cocktail, Catching Fire.  Adorable, right?  The drink was so good.  Here’s what was in it:   Hornitos reposado infused with jalapeño, passion fruit, fresh lime, combier l’original, hibiscus salt rim.  I probably shouldn’t admit that between Dave and I, we ordered three of these babies!  Worth the splurge, for sure.

Just the perfect amount of spicy, sour, and sweet.  The flash made it look yellow, lol.

Just the perfect amount of spicy, sour, and sweet. The flash made it look yellow, lol.

As soon as our drinks arrived, we ordered our meal and were brought a wooden bowl of olive oil and grilled bread.  It was even still warm… mmm!

After some careful deliberation the starters that we chose for the night were the Pork Belly Brasato & the Roasted Tomato Gnocchi.  Both of us have a hard time passing up a pork belly dish (complete with radicchio, pine nuts, and raisins), so that was an obvious choice.  The Roasted Tomato Gnocchi (served with Duck Ragu & Spinach Pesto) sounded so delicious.  I had to pick it because it was recently added to the menu, but also because C19 is famous for their light and fluffy homemade gnocchi.  Mmmmm… getting hungry yet?!

The Pork Belly with its accompaniments.  One hell of a way to start a meal.

The Pork Belly with its accompaniments. One hell of a way to start a meal.

Perfectly soft gnocchi... loved this.

Perfectly soft gnocchi… loved this.

Next up, we ordered a pizza and a pasta.  I remembered from my first visit to C19 that their pasta is soooo good… fresh and homemade.  It’s hard to resist.  I had never tried the pizza, but we decided to try the Dry Aged Venetian Meatballs on the pizza instead of as an appetizer.  I told you our ordering was thought out.  The pizza we picked had the meatballs, Polpette Mozzarella, and fresh Basil.  The crust was light and crispy, my favorite kind.  Of course the pasta we ordered was the one with Spicy Marinara.  There was some house-cured Pancetta in there too… and I only sort of stumbled over the name “Pasta A’Matriciana“.  Totally didn’t make an ass out of myself.  Don’t you worry.

Saucy & fresh pasta.  So good. This was the large portion, but you could also get a small one to taste test.

Saucy & fresh pasta. So good. This was the large portion, but you could also get a small one to taste test.

Check out this pizza... sooooo good.  The meatballs are fab.

Check out this pizza… sooooo good. The meatballs are fab.

This would have been the perfect place to end a night with delicious cocktails and dinner… but when our server came over to tell us about dessert… I just could not resist!  I am on a Tiramisu kick and C19 seemed like a great restaurant to try it.  I think something like “oh my goddddd” came out of my mouth with every bite going in.  It. was. SO. GOOD.  

Nom nom nom!! Look how creamy this Tiramisu is.  I think I've found a favorite dessert... Tiramisu tour of Philly, anyone?

Nom nom nom!! Look how creamy this Tiramisu is. I think I’ve found a favorite dessert… Tiramisu tour of Philly, anyone?

So, if you’re looking for a nice neighborhood restaurant… try C19.  The Venetian food and huge selection of wines and creative cocktails are some of the best in town.  C19 will also have you coming back for more and often, as they change their menu weekly depending on what fresh local ingredients are available.  And if you go, tell Kevin “hi”… and expect him to remember you!

Modo Mio, Philadelphia

I don’t even know where to start.

It isn’t often that I brag about how amazing my boyfriend Dave is.

I suppose most of the time it’s in an attempt to avoid bothering and irritating my friends with obnoxious and gushy facebook statuses and pictures… or maybe it’s just that I’d rather complain than talk about how wonderful things are.

Today I’m going to break my own rules.  Today we’re going to talk about how AWESOME Dave is.

Dave and I were unable to go out on a dinner date on Valentine’s Day.  We were too busy celebrating in a less conventional way… at the Circus!!  We had such a fun time.  I recently finished reading Water for Elephants and Dave caught on and bought us tickets for V-Day.  See… he rocks.

Dave and I went to the Circus for Valentine's Day!

Dave and I went to the Circus for Valentine’s Day!

Dave informed me the following day that we’d be going out to dinner next Friday night to properly celebrate Valentine’s Day.  He also somehow kept the destination a secret the whole week despite my incessant guessing and questioning.  (For those of you who don’t know this already, I have some serious menu anxiety and probably spend at least an hour stalking the menu before I go out… or else I’ll NEVER decide)  The only thing I was allowed to know was that the restaurant was BYOB… which just made me even more excited.

I still didn’t know where we were going when I got dressed Friday night, grabbed some wine, headed out of our apartment, onto the bus, and then onto the subway.  When we arrived in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of the city, I still was clueless.  I had a few guesses, but absolutely clueless… that was until we walked up to the door and I saw the logo…

img_modomio_logo

OMG.  So many thoughts rushed into my mind all at the same time… OMG I cannot believe I’m here… How did Dave even find out about this place?  And Most importantly… WHAT ARE WE GOING TO EAT?!?!

Modo Mio has been on my “Philly Wish List” of restaurants to try for over a year.  It’s actually the second one from the top.  I’ve heard so many good things and read so many good reviews, I mean the place has 4.5 stars on Yelp… it has to be phenom, right?  Well… it was.

Our table was ready at the exact time of our reservation.  We had arrived a little early so we had to wait, but it wasn’t for long.  Dave and I were seated in between a party of 4 and a different party of 6.  It’s definitely a little cozy, but this totally added (in a GREAT way) to the whole experience.  Our server, Joe was fantastic.  He explained the restaurant’s Northern Italian style of food, their “Turista” menu option, and wasn’t afraid to make fun of me when he asked to open our wine for us and I handed him a twist-off.  Whoops!

Dave and I decided to go with the Turista where each person gets an Antipasti, a Pasta, a Secondi, and a Dessert, for $35/pp.  This is an awesome deal, since the portions are smaller and the entrees all cost >$15 anyway.  It was a perfect way to try as much as possible.  Which I love.  Obviously.

Our menu selection was swayed when we observed our neighbors receiving their first courses.  They raved about the Octopus and a few other items which we now obviously had to try for ourselves.  We also befriended our other neighbors who shared their homemade Sangria with us.  Loving this place so far!!

For our first course, Dave and I ordered the Octopus and the special of the night which was a Pork Belly Meatball topped with Roasted Tomatoes, a Seared Scallop, and Smoked Maple Sauce.  Smoked Maple Sauce?!  It was absolutely heavenly.  I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it was.  I seriously hope they find a place on the permanent menu for this dish.  I’d have to get it every time.  The Octopus was also outrageous, the dish was packed with so many textures and flavors.  The octopus itself was stewed in a spicy tomato sauce but was served piled high with a crispy crunchy Farinata (a thin crispy chickpea pancake), salty sliced olives, capers, and some type of crunchy veggie maybe.  It was drizzled in a rich creamy sauce that brought the entire dish together.

The daily special- Pork Belly Meatball, Scallop, Pistachio, SMOKED Maple Sauce.  MMM!

The daily special- Pork Belly Meatball, Scallop, Pistachio, SMOKED Maple Sauce. MMM!

Octopus Antipasti- one of my favorite dishes of the night.

Octopus Antipasti- one of my favorite dishes of the night.

Our pasta choices were also delicious, and we ate every single last bite on our plates.  We shared the Lasagna and Butternut Squash Ravioli.  Now, Dave and I are not huge pasta eaters… in fact we rarely order it, let alone Lasagna which can typically be really heavy.  But when I saw the Lasagna description on the menu (fresh pasta sheets, classic meat sauce, fried egg), I was all set.  Fried Egg?!  On Lasagna!?  How could I resist?  The Butternut Squash ravioli was also delish.  The creamy ravioli was topped with a hearty veal ragu– here we are again with the savory/sweet combination… my favorite.

Butternut Squash Ravioli in Veal Ragu

Butternut Squash Ravioli in Veal Ragu

Fresh Pasta w/ Meat Sauce Lasagna topped with the most perfectly fried egg.

Fresh Pasta w/ Meat Sauce Lasagna topped with the most perfectly fried egg.

Moving on to the entrees, we ordered the Brasato, aka Short Rib (red wine braised Short Ribs, crispy Roman Gnocci, pickled Red Onion, Rye, Raisins) and the Zuppe di Pesce (spicy mussels, shrimp, crab, fish, tomatoes, topped with fresh bread smothered in saffron mayo).  Dave and I have an unwritten rule of dining out, where we absolutely have to order Short Ribs when we see them on a menu.  It just ends up happening every time.  We’re suckers for those bad boys… we just can’t turn them down.  The Short Rib dish at Modo Mio was no exception and boy was it amazing.  The meat was so tender and juicy, and I honeslty could not even tell what else was included in the dish… since the entire thing was covered in this deliciously rich sauce.  YUM!!!!!  To die for.  The Zuppe di Pesce was also fantastic- it was loaded (and i mean LOADED) with tons of seafood, including more octopus… mmm!  The best part of the entire dish to me was the broth, a little bit salty, a little bit spicy, with some really powerful flavors.  I could have drank an entire jug of that stuff.

Saffron-Mayo topped Fresh Bread resting on the huge pile of seafood in a delicious broth... YUMMMM

Saffron-Mayo topped Fresh Bread resting on the huge pile of seafood in a delicious broth… YUMMMM

Short Ribs... who can resist them?

Short Ribs… who can resist them?

We were so full by the end, we figured we’d just order the desserts to-go and call it a night.  That was a great idea in theory, but once we saw them… there was no turning back.  Both desserts were absolutely manageable in terms of size.  We picked the Tiramisu and their Caramelito (I think it was called that!).  The Tiramisu may have converted me to being a huge fan of the dessert- something I probably have never ordered in my life.  It was super fluffy and light too.  The Caramel dessert was absolutely fantastic.  It was more like a rich pudding or custard covered in a very thin caramel sauce.  Needless to say, we were very full, but not full enough to stop us from devouring the desserts in full.  🙂

Delicate Tiramisu...

Delicate Tiramisu…

Homemade desserts are so underrated... delish.

Homemade desserts are so underrated… delish.

 

Not only was this a fabulous meal (are you drooling!?  I am!) with top-notch service, but I absolutely loved the ambiance of the restaurant.  We even ended up chit chatting with the couple sitting next to us for a half hour or so after we were all finished with our meal!  When was the last time you went out to a nice dinner and made friends?!

I am still going over this meal in my head and plotting a way to save some money to go back soon.  So, GREAT JOB Dave, you are the best!  Thank you so much 🙂  Love you!

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Gullifty’s

I do have to tell you that I have the BEST boyfriend!  When I’m down in the dumps and having a bad day, what does he suggest?  Taking me out to dinner?  Sweet!

Dave and I 🙂

Neither of us were up for anything fancy, so we decided to go to a dependable neighborhood spot called Gullifty’s.  They have a huge menu and everything we’ve tried there so far has been fairly good so we figured, why not?

We started with two Diet Cokes and an order of their Crisp Calamari.  The calamari came out piping hot and fresh.  It was fried but was crispy and not overly-breaded.  We even found out from the server that they cut and bread the fresh calamari in house… never frozen!  Unexpected but definitely appreciated.  We asked for extra jalapenos on top, and dipped the rings in their roasted pepper and basil aioli sauce.  MMM!

I tried to stick with a healthy decision after eating ½ an order of calarmari, and went with the Shrimp & Chicken Fajitas.  The fajitas at Gullifty’s are advertised as “famous” but they were nothing more than ordinary fajitas.  I would have enjoyed the protein to be seasoned more and the peppers and onions to be more well-done.

Lots of grilled onions

...and all the fixins!

Dave ordered the French Filet Sandwich which was really yummy!  This sandwich should have been a signature dish, not the fajitas!  His sandwich included filet mignon tips, gruyere and parmesan cheese, caramelized onions and greens on a toasted garlic Le Bus roll (a staple as far as Philly artisan breads are concerned…) and horseradish sour cream.  He also got a side of homemade potato chips… they were still warm too!

It’s nice sometimes to go for a more casual, relaxed environment and eat simple good food.  I’m actually not gonna lie- Dave could take me anywhere on a “date night” and I’ll be a happy girl!

Check again soon to see where we end up for Valentine’s Day 2012!! ❤