Serpico- Philadelphia, PA- 4.0 Stars
"I'm retarded--I mean retired." --Frank Serpico
How can the classic movie of the same name not come to mind when you see this restaurant on iconic South Street in Philly? When the name came up as the next place in Philly to be reviewed on my random generator, I thought it had made a mistake and was suggesting a Netflix evening. Pulling up Google, I soon saw it was not, but it was suggesting an eponymously named restaurant from the James Beard award-winning Chef, Peter Serpico. Alas, it would seem I would not be dining with Mr. Pacino this evening; however, it was with eager anticipation that I made the reservation for a table (James Beard Award. 'Nuff said).
With room for 60, Serpico's is cozy and quaint with enough room to thoroughly enjoy your meal and conversation without feeling the need to lean in or speak loudly to your table mate(s). Mike was our waiter for this meal and I must say that Mike is the gold standard for servers in this industry. He was punctual, polite, engaging, professional and knew the menu like he slept with it. Based on Mike's suggestions, for my cocktail, I ordered the Floral and for our dinner the Raw Diver Scallops, Steamed Egg Custard and the 45 Day Aged New York Strip.
Mike soon returned with my drink and assured us our meal would be up momentarily. Taking a sip of my drink I realized that this was absolutely delicious. It had layered, complex flavors and it was great to see Creme de Violette in a drink. This is a bold step for a princely taste. Well done, Barkeep. Well done.
The Raw Diver Scallops were the freshest scallops I have ever consumed in a restaurant (look at the pic). The broth was lite, flavorful and had intricate layers of taste. This was truly an extraordinary use of scallops and honestly should be in all Asian influenced restaurants, especially my favorite places...Sushi Bars. I could eat this all day every day and still want more, it was that good.
Turning my culinary tools towards the Steamed Egg Custard, I dug into the next masterpiece to be reviewed. All I could think as I processed the flavors of my first bite was, "Surely I have died and gone to Foodie Paradise." The Custard was oh so creamy and laden with so much shrimp it was like the shrimp boat overturned in the custard. The dashi and the chestnuts added both diverse tastes and a lovely crunch to the dish. In a word, this was amazing. The proverbial icing on the cake that was this conglomeration of numminess had to be the fresh yuzu.
Sadly, this brings us to the last item to be sampled and reviewed, the 45 Day Aged NY Strip. Up until the steak, this was a 5 Star joint. However, while the steak was fresh, cooked perfectly, served with an exemplary and complex sauce along with fresh, tasty fingerling potatoes and freshly made spinach puree, the meat did not come off as USDA Prime. I don't know if it was the last steak of the day or just a not up to par one in the batch, but whatever it was, it came off as Choice grade, not Prime. Choice isn't bad, it's right under Prime in the grading system, but it was an obvious delineation from what I had come to expect from the previous meals sampled.
All in all, this was one of those meals you talk about years from the day you had it. The drink, the scallops, the shrimp custard were all remarkable, the sauces were some of the best I have had, the veggies done to perfection, the service impeccable, it was just the grade or quality of the meat I had that was a slight disappointment.
The Big Boy says, "When hankering for some damn fine dining on South Street, see Serpico #iamthebigboy #bigboydiningout