Celeb chef duo sets the Italian bar high — and jumps over it.

Sarah Tse
Hype: extravagant or intensive publicity or promotion. When it was announced that Peter Serpico’s first solo–venture would be opening up in Philadelphia and backed by Stephen Starr, that’s exactly what they got: hype. The pairing of one of the masterminds behind Momofuku with Philly’s most renowned restauranteur got the town talking, wondering what would come out of such a match. The result is nothing short of spectacular. Serpico delivers Modern American fare with an Asian undercurrent, innovatively conceptualized and flawlessly executed.

 

Serpico’s dining room sets the stage for your dining experience. The wooden tables and dark walls feel familiar and subdued, but the non–stop action in the expansive open kitchen that dominates the back of the room, where you’ll always find Peter Serpico himself, lets you know this is not your typical small–plate American restaurant. Take the raw diver scallops, covered in a tangy buttermilk sauce dotted with poppy seeds, white soy and a bright green chili paste ($14). On paper, the components seemed intriguing but disjointed—on a plate, the flavors melded together seamlessly.

Texture and temperature battled it out deliciously in the egg custard with caviar, served in a tiny cast iron pot, piping hot and topped with a crispy potato crust ($25). Cope’s corn ravioli ($15) was a Mexican–chorizo–infused ode to the Pennsylvania Dutch dried sweet corn, a nod to the chef’s new city and his culinary approach. But in the modern dining room of this modern restaurant, no dish had received more hype than the duck leg ($13). Would it live up? Deep fried and halved, served on a Martin’s potato roll over pickled cucumbers with hoisin sauce, a dollop of Sriracha–style sauce on the side and a tiny bowl of pickled veggies for those who want more bite, the duck leg stole the show. Whether you call it a hoagie or a bahn mi, Serpico’s inventive yet unpretentious style reaches new heights when deep–frying duck.

The final test, though, was dessert. Where many restaurants fall flat after the entrée, Serpico reasserts its creativity with a small but thoughtful dessert menu (all $8). Instead of a cheese plate you’ll find goat cheese sorbet over shortbread cookie crumbles with slivers of Asian pear, a dish to save room for. The service was attentive, the servers knowledgeable, the cocktails strong and the portions generous.

While normally ones to think for ourselves, Serpico proved it can be good to believe the hype.

Serpico 604 South St. (215) 925-3001

Don't Miss: The Deep Fried Duck Leg Skip: The wine, grab a masterfuly crafted cocktail instead $$$$$


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