Don't be put off by the seemingly French name - Le Castagne offers Old World Italian with a modern and almost distinctly Philadelphian taste.
Located on an otherwise-quiet block at 19th and Chestnut streets - castagne means chestnut in Italian - the restaurant greets you with pleasant lighting and a friendly seating hostess.
We were seated immediately, and noted how cozy the restaurant felt on such a cold night.
I began with flan di parmigiano con crosta di pistachio ($14), a delightfully light parmesan cheese flan on top of a plateau of crusted pistachio nuts. The mixing of textures was especially effective. My friend started with a simple spinach salad ($9), which had the perfect proportion of goat cheese to dressing - no small feat indeed.
While the timing between dishes was relaxed, it gave my friend and I time to scope out the rest of the restaurant. Everyone was enjoying their meals, and the waiters and waitresses seamlessly glided among tables.
Next, my friend delicately opened the paper around her tilapia (priced daily) as I dug into the gnocchi di patate alla sorrentina ($15/19), a gnocchi with tomato sauce, fresh basil and mozzarella. After trying such a bold appetizer, I thought it wise to see how Le Castagne handles the classics. The gnocchi was well-cooked, and the sauce made good use of the fresh basil. Our only complaint was that there wasn't enough of the mozzarella! The portion size was ideal - after the flan, I couldn't have handled a family-style inundation of pasta, no matter how delicious it was, so we both took advantage of Le Castagne's half-portion options.
Leaving the paper it was grilled in as part of the presentation, the tilapia didn't look too appealing to us at first, but after unwrapping it, we found it cooked perfectly.
Now nearly stuffed, we couldn't possibly eat anymore . until the waiter brought the dessert menu.
I opted for the Northern Italian tiramisu ($6), in need of something cold and multi-textured. The strawberry glaze laced around my plate was a nice touch.
But the favorite was the flourless chocolate cake ($6) warmed to the core and served with whipped cream and berries.
Now completely full, we left Le Castagne, feeling content with our little taste of Northern Italy.Comments powered by Disqus
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