Disclaimer: I don't know that much about Italian food.
It was only about a month ago that I learned how to pronounce gnocchi, and I'm still not entirely sure what prosciutto is. (Google tells me it's ham, but I'm not convinced) Basically, I'm pretty easy to please.
However, I know a quality meal when I see it, and L'Angolo Ristorante, tucked away on Porter Street in South Philly, is the place to go for some good eats.
After entering through the exposed kitchen, I found myself in a quaint dining area decorated with exposed brick and yellow stucco walls adorned with metal sconces, ceramics and a beautiful painting of the Italian countryside.
While I've never been to Italy, the atmosphere evokes a certain authenticity that you would expect to find on the streets of Rome or Venice.
As for the food, you really can't go wrong.
We started our meal with an order of calamari, which was deliciously seasoned and tender.
Next, we were presented with asparagus wrapped in prosciutto (still a mystery to me), drizzled with a balsamic reduction and topped off with a tower of shrimp. I don't even like asparagus, and I enjoyed every bite.
Finally we tried a dish of baked mushrooms draped with melted cheese and probably a few other things I didn't notice.
Unlike some restaurants where the silence of neighboring diners smothers any attempt at normal conversation, the atmosphere at L'Angolo is vibrant and upbeat, encouraging patrons to chat without feeling self-conscious.
Throughout the night, soothing Italian music played in the dining room, and our waiter would sing along as he bounced from table to table.
L'Angolo also seemed to have a lot of repeat customors. Waiters and waitresses were familiar with many of the patrons, giving the restaurant a friendly, personal feel.
For the main course I chose a gnocchi dish with ricotta and gorgonzola cheese, and my date picked pappardelle pasta with swordfish and arugula.
As if we hadn't eaten enough, we decided to tackle a chocolate truffle torte with raspberry sauce. Bursting at the seams, we couldn't say no to the delectable desert, which we washed down with cappuccino.
The food was enjoyable - although the gnocchi was a little too cheesy for me - and both meals were large enough that we were able to bring a doggy bag home with us for the next day.
So, next time you're hungry and feel like making the trek to South Philly, skip Pat's and Gino's and go for the real deal at L'Angolo.
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