When you get tired of the same University City coffee shops, stroll across the Walnut Street Bridge to the new hybrid concept café, Res Ipsa. Brought to Rittenhouse by the team behind Fishtown’s ReAnimator Coffee and Stock, Res Ipsa, an all–day café, is the new kid in the Philly food scene.
Res Ipsa will bring you back to study abroad memories, courtesy of its Scandinavian style. The sunlight is ample; the music is calming and low. Lined with white marble tables, the small dining room is anchored by a large espresso machine cranking out shots from ReAnimator coffee beans. Above the espresso machine hangs the minuscule menu board with the café's offerings.
What the café lacks in quantity, they make up for in quality. Make no mistake: the fare of Res Ipsa goes far beyond the typical café food. The chef, Michael Vincent Ferrari, has worked in the kitchens of renowned Philly restaurants Zahav and Stock.
The majority of the food is already made. Homemade pastries and savory snacks are served from a tray. Quick options include individually sized focaccia (with toppings including a sweet choice of pomegranate, ricotta, and a lime leaf glaze), empanada–esque hand pie and a root vegetable cake with cream cheese icing and pepitas.
The one made–to–order item offered during the day is their signature breakfast sandwich. Served on a house–made English muffin, they elevate the classic by replacing an egg with a fluffy frittata square and the pleasantly bitter notes of an herb hot spread. There are several options for additions including spinach, fennel sausage and pancetta; I recommend the fennel cardamom sausage. Admittedly, the sandwich is small. But, considering Rittenhouse prices, it's a steal at $4.50.
After the cream and sugar are stashed away, the lights dim and candles are lit, transforming the café into an intimate BYO with a Southern Italian flair. Their main plates are meant for sharing. There are two family–style entrée options: a whole fish or roast chicken. Your table can also choose from an array of house–made pasta and salad options.
The shareable plates boast traditional Sicilian flavors and ingredients such as a beet and ricotta salad, composed of roasted discs of red beets anchored by whipped ricotta and toasted almond. Or branch out and go for the octopus served with squid ink pasta. Just don’t kill the vibe and leave the Franzia at home.
Come grab a table, and spend your day camped out here before the rest of the city does (and yes, the wifi is free).