Sure, there are plenty of good gravy joints in South Philly to satisfy your deep winter carb cravings, but for Italian fare that’s a tad more sophisticated but still super comforting, call in a reservation to Le Virtu. This charming spot, called "South Philadelphia’s best authentic Italian restaurant" by the Philadelphia Inquirer, is emerging as an institution in one of the city’s hippest and fastest growing food-centric neighborhoods. Le Virtu focuses solely on cuisine from the Abruzzo region of Italy, known for its gorgeous pastas, abundance of fresh seafood, fine desserts, and wines made from montepulciano grapes.
Chef Joe Cicala, recently nominated for the James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef, has just updated the restaurant’s menu with a number of hearty but elegant dishes, perfect for staving off the late-winter chills. Imagine a steaming bowl of ceci e castagne (a chickpea, chestnut, and farro "minestrone" stew with rabbit broth and Pecorino cheese) set before you, or the gnocchi al pastore scannese, a bed of simple noodle dumplings cradling smoky lamb sausage and cave-aged ricotta. Dishes like these are powerful enough to slay even the meanest winter blues. These and other new savory and sweet options will find their place on the Le Virtu menu, alongside the creamy burrata Pugliese, maccheroni all mugnaia, brodetto, and other such classic dishes.