January 27, 2013
Positano Coast by Aldo Lamberti, Philadelphia PA
A Sampler of Homemade Desserts (Frangelico Chocolate Mousse, Vanilla Cheesecake)
Finally, Philadelphia Restaurant Week is here again! Wanting to try out more than just one restaurant this time, I made sure to find time for lunch with friends. Since Amado and Barbuzzo being full, my mentor, Elaine, and I decided on Positano Coast by Aldo Lamberti. She was intrigued by the dessert sampler and me by the cioppino.
To start, we had a small basket of Appetizer Bread with some herbed olive oil to drizzle on top. The bread was crusty but fresh and good. The aroma of the oil really worked. I also loved using the bread to soak up all the broth in my Cioppino dish later.
We both got the Focaccia Calda for our appetizers. It was a lovely flatbread with zucchini, diced tomatoes, mozzarella, and truffle oil. The truffle oil gave it a lovely aroma and the zucchini was soft and tasty. However, I found the zucchini to be a little too greasy, detracting from the freshness and lightness of it. The tomatoes added a little acidity but was not the most flavourful tomatoes I have had. The gooey mozzarella was great, though, light and delicious. The flatbread itself had a nice crisp on the edge but was soft and chewy in the center.
My Cioppino, with mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari, pancetta, and homemade gnocchi, was delicious. The seafood was plentiful and tender. I especially loved the mussels and calamari, since the shrimp was a little small and not freshly caught. The pancetta really added a hearty flavour to the already flavourful tomato broth. The gnocchi were so soft and chewy and I loved them. However, this dish was also a little too greasy. Despite the garlic and herbs that cut through it a bit, it had a layer of oil over the broth.
I tried a bite of Elaine’s Paccheri Bolognese, with bites of short rib and steak. The bolognese was delicious and hearty. This was Italian pasta sauce at its best. The meat was juicy and the flavours were singing. The paccheri was a little undercooked, or very al dente. However, I would rather it was undercooked than soggy and overdone. The large tube pasta was very chewy and a little sticky, but I actually did not mind it that much.
The final course was A Sampler of Homemade Desserts. On that day, we got two small bites – the Frangelico Chocolate Mousse and the Vanilla Cheesecake. The mousse was light and not very sweet, having a strong cocoa flavour instead. It had layers of hazelnut mascarpone mousse and Gianduja chocolate mousses, topped with a chocolate fudge and drizzled with dark chocolate sauce. It was National Chocolate Cake Day so this was perfect. The texture was airy and light. Our favourite was the Vanilla Cheesecake, though. It was simple but delicious, with a very strong vanilla bean flavour. The texture was light and creamy, and the graham cracker crust was also very sweet. The strawberry sauce provided a lovely, tart contrast to the flavour. This was more like my kind of dessert. Both of us wished there were more of this cheesecake!
Overall, I loved dining at Positano Coast. The restaurant was bright, friendly, casual, and elegant. It had a traditional Italian decor with different shades of blue everywhere. Our server was friendly and service was great. This is definitely a place that I will return to.