Modo Mio, Philadelphia (PART 2!)

I rarely have enough time to write a post about a restaurant shortly after we’ve dined there.  Life gets in the way, I forget, or I simply just have too many fabulous recipes to share with you to write about a restaurant.  Let’s face it, one of the most amazing meals I’ve had in Philly was two months ago at the famous Zahav with my girlfriends (an Israeli FEAST in which I tried DUCK HEARTS!!) and has yet to make it on the blog.  I’m not the best with timeliness here.

Now that you know this, maybe you’ll understand just how good my meal was this past weekend at Modo Mio.  Sound familiar to you?  It should, since just a month and a half ago I raved and raved about it while bragging about how wonderful my boyfriend Dave was for taking me there.  You heard me:  I am writing about a restaurant I went to just a few days ago… and for the SECOND time.  This place just deserves that kind of attention.

Just a recap:  Modo Mio is an adorable little Northern Italian BYOB in the Northern Liberties area of Philadelphia.  They offer a “Turista” menu every night, where you can order an Antipasti, a Pasta, a Secondi, and a Dessert, for $35/pp.  

When I found out a few days prior that our favorite foodie friend Donny was coming to visit, I knew I had to pick a good place for dinner.  We caught a late reservation and also reeled in our friends (another) Dave & Betsy (actually, her and I are both Elizabeth!  Weird!).

Dave, Donny, (my) Dave and I were all on the same trip to Israel and have remained good friends since, trying out some seriously awesome restaurants along the way.  Modo Mio only seemed appropriate to share with this hungry crew.

The thing that made me most excited about this dinner (other than the fact that we had our very own big round table) was that everyone wanted to do the “Turista” tasting option… and wanted to SHARE.  This meant we basically get to try the entire menu with only the exception of maybe six items.  OMGOMGOMG!  Our server explained that the menu had just changed, as it does every 4-6 weeks, left us with some delicious bread and porcini flavored oil, and we got down to work.

I think this was the most impressive menu decision making ever, we finished in five minutes… checking off which dishes we wanted directly on the menu.  Talk about efficiency!  (oh, also confirmed with our server that we’re the first people to do this.  Love.) We decided to pay an extra $5 for the whole fish of the day & for the Broccoli Rabe side.  After ordering 5 of each course… we sat back… drank some wine… and got ready for a feast of bites (literally).  Get ready for your tummy to grumble… here we go!

Antipasti

Cozze:  Mussels, Red & Spicy

Cozze: Mussels, Red & Spicy

We nearly fought over the broth from the mussels... wow!

We nearly fought over the broth from the mussels… wow!

Polpo:  Grilled Ocopus, Spicy Chick Peas, Raisins, Almonds, Lemon, Arugula

Polpo: Grilled Ocopus, Spicy Chick Peas, Raisins, Almonds, Lemon, Arugula

Carpaccio:  House-Cured Pork Loin, Crispy Gorgonzola, Cherry Fennel Compote

Carpaccio: House-Cured Pork Loin, Crispy Gorgonzola, Cherry Fennel Compote

Carciofo al Mattone:  Crispy Artichoke, Black Olive, Mint, Goat Cheese, Rosemary Honey, Pangrattato

Carciofo al Mattone: Crispy Artichoke, Black Olive, Mint, Goat Cheese, Rosemary Honey, Pangrattato

N'duja:  Calabrese Sausage, White Bean Pancake, Fried Egg, Honeyed Mushrooms

N’duja: Calabrese Sausage, White Bean Pancake, Fried Egg, Honeyed Mushrooms

Pasta

Vincis Grassi:  Rich festival Lasagne, Meat Ragu, Porcini, Besciamella, Fresh Pasta Sheets

Vincis Grassi: Rich festival Lasagne, Meat Ragu, Porcini, Besciamella, Fresh Pasta Sheets

Agnolotti:  Mascarpone & Artichoke Stuffed Ravioli, Almond Butter

Agnolotti: Mascarpone & Artichoke Stuffed Ravioli, Almond Butter

Gnocchi:  Potato Dumplings, Speck, Gorganzola, Spring Peas & Cream

Gnocchi: Potato Dumplings, Speck, Gorganzola, Spring Peas & Cream

Special Pasta: Ziti w/ Oxtail Ragu

Special Pasta: Ziti w/ Oxtail Ragu

Bucatini Amatriciana:  Thick, hollow Spaghetti, Pancetta, Spicy Plum Tomato, Pecorino Romano

Bucatini Amatriciana: Thick, hollow Spaghetti, Pancetta, Spicy Plum Tomato, Pecorino Romano

Secondi

Melanzana Ripiena:  Tomato Braised Stuffed Eggplant, Molise Style, Mint, House-Made Ricotta

Melanzana Ripiena: Tomato Braised Stuffed Eggplant, Molise Style, Mint, House-Made Ricotta

Trota:  Prosciutto-Wrapped Brook Trout, Porcini, Strawberry, and Basil Salad

Trota: Prosciutto-Wrapped Brook Trout, Porcini, Strawberry, and Basil Salad

Pesce Arrosto: Whole Roasted Branzino

Pesce Arrosto: Whole Roasted Branzino

Guance: Veek Cheek "Chef's Choice, trust him" (yes this is directly from the menu)

Guance: Veek Cheek “Chef’s Choice, trust him” (yes this is directly from the menu)

Agnello:  Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chop, Goat Feta, Date Gremolata, Dandelion, Hard Cooked Egg

Agnello: Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chop, Goat Feta, Date Gremolata, Dandelion, Hard Cooked Egg

Our Side & Desserts

Broccoli: Bitter Broccoli, Pepperoncino, Garlic, Lemon, White Beans

Broccoli: Bitter Broccoli, Pepperoncino, Garlic, Lemon, White Beans

(clockwise) Rosemary-Olive Oil Cake, Apple Blondie w/ Vanilla Bean Semi Fredo, Tiramisu

(clockwise) Rosemary-Olive Oil Cake, Apple Blondie w/ Vanilla Bean Semi Fredo, Tiramisu

Flourless Chocolate Cake & Basil Panna Cotta

Flourless Chocolate Cake & Basil Panna Cotta

As if these gorgeous pictures don’t say enough as it is… let me tell you, this was such an outstanding meal.  The five of us “ooh”-ed and “ahh”-ed with literally every bite we took.  Each dish was better than the last and we loved everything we tried.  

If you live in the Philly area and haven’t tried Modo Mio yet… pick up the phone and make a reservation… what are you waiting for?!

Betsy & I before dinner

Betsy & I before dinner

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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