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The Restaurant Issue of Bon Appetit (Top 5 dining cities issue) was mentioned in another thread. Also in that issue was an article about Vetri. It sounded pretty amazing. The chef there beat out four of our own DC chefs for a James Beard Award (Best Chef-Mid--Atlantic). They made it out to possibly be the best Italian restaurant in the U.S. http://www.vetriristorante.com/ So, has anybody been? Is it worth a two-hour drive? Do tell!
------> EXHIBIT #1 EXHIBIT #2 Seared scallops, portabello and pea risotto with parmesean crisp and truffle oil, at Mercato, in Philadelphia; a tiny (38 seat) new byob on Spruce. Mercato has only been open a few months. It is the sister to Valanni across the street (which came in handy when they ran out of bread - just sent someone over to refill the huge basket). There is a small open kitchen at the rear, and an unadorned dining room of dark wood tables placed cheek by jowl on the bare floors, with cushionless wood chairs (there is a banquette running down one long wall, with a nifty system of horizontally sliding backrests) and unadorned walls. In other words: very loud and cramped - in a good way - a good choice for dining solo. Every table was occupied the entire time I was there. Patrons on either side of me were practically in my lap and happy to share their opinions on what they were eating and what other byobs they like. I thought it was friendlier and livlier than Melograno, and had better food than Porcini. As with many byobs in Philadelphia, they don't take reservations, and they also are cash only. Fun, frivolous feature: they have a separate olive oil tasting menu and they give you tiny glasses for the "flight" of the oils. I didn't try it, because the herb/lemon butter that comes with the bread was so good, but I'm waiting for this gimmick to come to DC (of course, we can righteously claim we did it first at the Fall '05 picnic.)