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Fine dining can be comfy too

(02/26/03 10:00am)

The pristine and predominantly white dining room of Le Castagne may seem intimidating to diners at first. But once the scent of fine Italian cuisine began wafting through the air and the friendly servers announced the evening's specials, I knew that the Chestnut Street establishment would not only provide a delicious meal, but a comfortable one as well. Throughout the evening, the staff checked to make sure everything was to our liking. Their genuine interest proved that Le Castagne truly cares. To start off, my guest and I chose from a selection of titillating appetizers. I opted for the Delizia ai funghi ($9), a pastry draped with mushrooms and a four cheese sauce. The combination of flavors was delicate yet rich. A lovely way to begin what would prove to be an all-around enjoyable meal. My guest opted for the soup of the day ($6), a Tuscan onion soup, which was hearty, creamy and in a word, fantastic. Le Castagne 1920 Chestnut Street (215) 751-9913 Fare: Italian For our next course, we chose from a selection of a half dozen pasta options. The gnocchi di patate alla sorrentina ($11), served with mozzarella, fresh basil and tomato sauce was outstanding -- simple yet bursting with flavor. The cheesy ravioli alla robiola ($14) in cream sauce held true to its description -- the cheesy flavor could not go unnoticed. While I was already feeling full, I nevertheless indulged in the entree special of the evening, striped bass in a basil sauce ($23). The fish was tender and mouthwatering, and the simple vegetable garnishes were the perfect compliment. My guest opted for the Carre d'agnello, the roasted rack of lamb ($27). The meat, prepared with a shallot and port wine reduction, was exceptionally tender and overflowing with taste. The sweet potato side dish served as the entree's perfect counterpart. Luckily, my guest and I saved just enough room for dessert. The delectable concoctions did not disappoint. The torta di ricotta e cioccolato ($7.25), a ricotta and cheese tart ornamented with rum ice cream and vanilla sauce was superb. The tart was spongy and light and the ice cream brought out its best. Each bite was a refreshing explosion of zesty sweetness. The tiramisu della casa ($7.25) was also excellent. The dessert's traditional preparation and perfect texture would satisfy even the most finicky of diners. When our meal came to an end, I knew that our dining experience at Le Castagne would be one to remember -- I'll never have to think twice about where to go for mouthwatering Italian cuisine.

Dantzler-Wolfe investigated before Dec. 10

(02/07/03 10:00am)

Missing student David Dantzler-Wolfe has been the subject of an investigation by the University Police Department for allegedly entering a female student's "abode" and videotaping her, according to sources in the University and Philadelphia Police departments. The investigation of the Wharton junior began prior to his disappearance on Dec. 10. University Police officials, however, would not comment on the status of this investigation. "Officially, the only thing we will comment on... [is that] he's a missing person... and that is the primary investigation regarding him," Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said last night. When asked last week if there is a warrant out for the arrest of Dantzler-Wolfe, Rush said "yes and no." Rush clarified last night that there is no warrant entered formally in the national computer database for Dantzler-Wolfe. He is entered nationally as a missing person. According to officials at the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, where the database can be accessed, a warrant is not entered into the database until an actual arrest is made. "An arrest warrant is not public knowledge," Director of Special Services Pat Brennan confirmed. "It becomes public once any arrest is made." "We are commenting on nothing," Brennan said. "Any outstanding issues that may or may not be out there are not going to be discussed." According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's national guidelines, an individual must be missing for 72 hours before being classified as such. University Police began its investigation of Dantzler-Wolfe prior to the 72-hour period, noting that the department begins a search as soon as it knows something is wrong. Dantzler-Wolfe was last seen around 8 a.m. on Dec. 10 in Harnwell College House. He was wearing a red and gray hooded sweatshirt, dark pants and dark shoes or sneakers. He was also wearing a backpack. The junior did not show up for his scheduled exams on Dec. 10 or Dec. 11. Brennan maintains that Dantzler-Wolfe is not currently at Penn. "He's not on our campus," she said. "He's not a threat to our community." Brennan also noted that members of University Police are meeting with Dantzler-Wolfe's mother on a weekly basis. Dantzler-Wolfe is originally from North Carolina and was involved in the a cappella group Chord on Blues prior to his disappearance. University President Judith Rodin noted last month that Dantzler-Wolfe's family removed the junior's belongings from his dorm room over winter break. Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Dantzler-Wolfe is encouraged to contact the Special Services Department at (215) 898-6600. Staff reporter Spencer Willig contributed to this report.