On a a cold winter evening with reservations in place and a bottle of red in our hand we made our way to Northern Liberties to dine at Peter McAndrew’s Modo Mio. Three hours later we left in a state of ecstasy. It is hard finding the words to explain our dining experience at Modo Mio. All I can say is that it was one of the best. Having recently experienced L’Artusi in New York City I can confidently say that the meal at Modo Mio far exceeded L’Artusi (it also cost a quarter of the price…although in their defense I am sure they pay much more for rent). I can say one thing: I have been dreaming of my meal ever since our visit and although my rule for our year in Philadelphia is to try each restaurant once I am confident this restaurant deserves that rule to be broken.
We walked into a small dim lit dining room and were seated at one of the dozen or so tables lining the wall. The decor: homegrown, classic, no frills Italian. Ambiance: loud. Very loud.
The Food: The menu consisted of antipasti, pastas and meats. We were lured in to the ‘Turista Menu’- a $34 prixe fix for a four course meal. You just can’t resist (and shouldn’t).
First off, house made whole grain bread was served with a creamy fresh ricotta drowned in olive oil. I could have kept eating it all night as I’m particularly weak around bread, butter and cheese.
Next came the antipasti. Everything on the menu had a creative flare to it. Our antipasti included a octopus salad tossed with arugula, capers chickpeas and white beans.
And a dish made of sliced potatoes covered with grilled cheese and apricots. I would describe this as a twist on the french Raclette (baked potatoes eaten with hot melting swiss cheese). The combination of potatos and cheese is always a killer but when served with a sweet surprise such as apricots and barberries- You just can’t get a better mix of flavors or originality.
Next, the bucatini and veal and rabbit agnolotti were brought out.
The Bucatini- hollow long strands of spaghetti mixed with pancetta and spicy plum tomatoes, herbs and spices cooked to perfection served with generous amounts of pecorino. I still remember each bite and often dream to go back just for this dish alone.
As for the veal and rabbit ravioli, it was my first time tasting rabbit and first time ordering veal. There are several things I don’t like to eat for ethical reasons (such as foie gras, veal and rabbit) but I am willing to try everything once. I have to say this was one of the most beautiful raviolis I have ever tasted. The veal and rabbit mix was wrapped in light, airy and fresh pasta dough. The sauce was a sweet sage butter. The sage butter was the key ingredient in this dish. Each mouthful burst with a strong sage flavor that my tastebuds welcomed eagerly. It was probably the most amazing ravioli I have tasted to date.
We were both ready to call it a night after the pasta, leave on a bright note and have the flavors remain in our memories and minds for as long as possible. But having ordered the four course meal, we had two more courses to go through. I had ordered the red snapper served over squid ink grains in a sauce that was out of this world. It was sweet, tangy creamy and completely unique. It gave the overall dish a sweet yet citrusy flavor. The fish tasted fresh and was cooked to perfection.
The next entree was the ribeye served over a goat cheese crepe topped with sundried tomatoes, salty sardines and a creamy sauce. The beef was well marinated and each bite melted in my mouth. What’s best- it was laid on top of a perfectly crafted crepe. Each bit was therefore a combination of beef, goat cheese and crepe. It was a beautifully executed dish with just the right amount of imagination.
Dessert came next. We always leave room for dessert which consisted of a flourless chocolate cake and tiramisu. The chocolate cake was served with whipping cream and shaved chocolate. It was the perfect texture and flavor.
The tiramisu was also served with shaved chocolate. It tasted light, fluffy and the right amount of sweet.
Service: our server was amazing and walked us through the menu making suggestions, explaining dishes and going out of his way to make our evening memorable. Within minutes of sitting, our wine was opened, poured and the bread brought out.