Alla Spina brings inventive Italian bar food to North Broad
1410 Mt. Vernon St.
Don’t Miss: Guinea hen and mozzarella curd poutine
Skip: Coming alone — these dishes are meant for sharing
Marc Vetri, one of Philadelphia’s most celebrated chefs, continues his winning run with his newest spot, Alla Spina. The chef’s take on an Italian bar has a name that literally means “from the tap.” Alla Spina furthers North Broad Street’s evolution into a culinary hub, as it shares a building with Steven Starr’s Route 6 and is just a stone’s throw from Vetri’s own Osteria.
Alla Spina is both the most casual and alcohol–focused Vetri venture yet, with an impressive list of domestic and imported beer taking up just as much space on the menu as the food. Most of the menu items are designed for sharing, but inconsistent prices and confusing labels make deciding exactly what and how much to order slightly confusing.
Never fear, though, because in true Vetri style, everything is delicious. The waiter divided our order of seven items into two separate courses, and the first four dishes arrived almost immediately, as if the kitchen had telepathically predicted what we were having.
The poutine ($14), fries drenched in Guinea hen leg Bolognese and mozzarella curd, was the rich, salty standout among the first course, with the cheese and meat creating a perfect messy, gluttonous balance. The Italian rarebit ($12), the chef’s take on the classic Welsh dish, combined Applewood–smoked bacon, gooey cheese and a sunny–side–up egg with a crispy piece of ciabatta for a savory winner. The Tuscan kale ($10) with provolone provided a welcome green touch, and the crispy sunchokes, although tasty, came in an almost laughably small portion.
The wait for the next course was significantly longer, but the dishes maintained the same level of excellence. The veal Milanese hoagie ($12) and the mortadella hot dog ($8) were steals, considering their size, but the mound of chips that came alongside each seemed extraneous. Pasta lovers should rest easy, because there are a few noodle dishes on the menu, and the lasagna verde ($16), which featured spinach noodles and a rich Bolognese, was hearty and elegantly composed.
Alla Spina makes soft–serve in–house, and the Alla Spina sundae ($10), which paired the fiordilatte ice cream with caramel–coated pretzels and chocolate–covered bacon, was the perfect sweet ending to a memorable meal.
The Alla Spina space, an industrial dining room with graffitied walls and a massive open kitchen is certainly Vetri’s funkiest yet. Above the centerpiece bar, there’s an elevated “cage” for private dining, which provides a bird’s–eye view of the action below.
As expected with the Vetri stamp, the food at Alla Spina is consistently outstanding, busting down the boundaries of traditional Italian cuisine, and the ambience is refreshingly casual. Despite uneven pricing and portions, Alla Spina is another Vetri winner.