photo credit: Rachel Lerro
The family of Vetri restaurants is everywhere in Philly. When you’re looking to share a wood-fired pizza with a few friends, head to Pizzeria Vetri. If you need to eat the best pasta in the city that will make you more excited than Garfield when they’re near a plate of lasagna, spend the night at Fiorella. And when you want the crown jewel of the entire empire, where you can sit back and experience the best dining experience in Philadelphia, Vetri Cucina is the place to be.
The Center City restaurant always delivers a night of excellent service that feels like a curated hospitality version of a Spotify playlist. You’ll feel like the center of attention, so much so that you may forget that anyone or anything else in the cozy spot exists at all.
The $150 five-course tasting menu is more of a choose-your-own-fantasy adventure since every dish will remain in your thoughts days after your meal. It changes seasonally but the roadmap stays the same: pick a small plate, antipasto, pasta dish, and entree before getting your dessert. To begin with, you can expect (and you should go for) things like their sweet onion crêpe that’s essentially sticky caramelized strands of allium drenched in a creamy parmesan fondue. You should also try their savory Dungeness crab budino with asparagus bits floating in the thick broth and gets served with a flaky gnocco fritto that you can use to make the most lavish Hot Pocket ever.
The pasta is the star of the show, though, especially because it’s the course with the most options (5) to choose from. But the corzetti with pistachio tarragon pesto and briny clam conserva is so good that we think about telling the host that’s the reason why we’re here (not for a birthday, anniversary, or any other appropriate time to come). With every course being as good as the last, it almost feels like you’re collecting Italian restaurant Infinity Stones after you finish each dish. By the end of your meal, your only wish when you snap your fingers will be to come back and repeat this dining experience over and over again.
If your bank account can’t handle that, save up and go to this place for a celebration that you have in bold on your calendar. When you do, get the wine pairing that runs an additional $135. While they have a bunch of options by the glass and bottle, the pairing comes with the special experience of hearing about the history between each wine—down to the grape types and stories about the producers.
Beyond the great food, it’s the attentive service here that sets this restaurant apart. And that’s what makes it not only the best restaurant in the city, but a place where you would actually believe that there’s a genie in the kitchen granting life-fulfilling wishes in the form of the best dinner of your life.
The menu here constantly changes, but this is a sample of some things you might eat.
Sweet Onion Crêpe With Truffle And Parmesan Fondue
Almost looking like bubble tape (if it were made of onion), this round slice has been sauteed and caramelized so it’s both tender and sweet. Sitting in a pool of warm parmesan, you’ll be happy you didn’t eat all the complimentary bread early in the meal just so you can sop up all the cheese.
Spinach Gnocchi With Shaved Ricotta Salata Brown Butter
They’ll always have some form of gnocchi on the menu, and that should make you happy. They know how to make creamy and gumball-sized mounds of dough that we eat like popcorn, and even though the plate only comes with four of them, it still leaves us pretty full.
Corzetti With Pistachio Tarragon Pesto And Clam Conserva
This is the pasta you’ll tell your friends about, if they’re not lucky enough to come with you. The doughy discs are smothered in a sweet and earthy sauce that tastes great when blended with the sharp lemony flavor that gets soaked into every crevice of the clams.
Molten Pistachio Cake With Burnt Orange Gelato
The best dessert here. And it might just be the best you ever have. Once you jab the moist and buttery cake with your fork, a warm stream of pistachio glaze will come pouring out of it. Plus, the burnt orange gelato makes each gooey bite creamier.