Monday, January 30, 2012

"There is no hospitality like understanding" -Vanna Bonta

We had yet another amazing dinner last night at Monsú.

I am telling you, these people know what's up.

The tiny Sicilian restaurant on the corner of 9th and Christian is the third instillation in Peter McAndrews' (yes, I've spoken highly of him before, and I will continue to for ever and ever and ever) Philadelphia restaurant series.

As with all of his restaurants, the people at Monsú cater amazingly to gluten allergies. Several of the Chef's children have Celiac, and so he, and all of his employees, understand the importance of creating delicious gf dishes. And they know that it all starts with the bread.

Tote, the new gluten free bakery, provides the baguette (which is quite tasty as is- see post below for details) and the phenomenal kitchen staff does the rest. A house-made whipped ricotta with honey and orange, drizzled with olive oil and cracked with tasty grains of sea salt and black pepper arrives at the table in the most unassuming little white dish. It looks so innocent, just sitting there in the middle of the table like "Oh hey guys, what's up? Welcome to Monsú. You should probably dunk a little warm piece of bread in me and see how that tastes." Brilliant. That's how.

The Panelle arrived at the table first, and let me tell you, it is the dish that made me fall in love with eggplant. I never really thought eggplant could be all that sexy, but paired with a crispy chickpea fritter, dolloped with a creamy mozzarella burrata, and drizzled with pesto and it becomes the Kim Kardashian's ass of garden vegetables.

Up next was a giant pan-seared scallop served over sauteed artichokes hit with a splash of a creamy, spicy harissa mayo that cut like butter and melted in your mouth, heat hitting every taste bud. Aaron got a half-order of crab pasta as an appetizer with a rich, smooth, creamy tomato-lemon sauce (and yes, they do have gluten-free pasta) and giant chunks of shave pecorino romano. A green salad- simple, but perfectly seasoned and balanced consists of mixed greens, shaved almonds, golden raisins, and a light and crisp lemon and olive oil dressing.

My entree was a gluten-free pasta tossed with sweet onions, pancetta, and juicy, plump Roma tomatoes, and black pepper, with shaved Parmesan cooked so perfectly that I would have sworn someones Italian grandmother was back in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove.

For dessert, a strawberry and goat cheese panna cotta drizzled with a balsamic sauce so perfectly aged that it had become a syrup, delicately balancing the fluffy pink custard.

But the best part about Monsú is the incredible staff. Like all of McAndrews' restaurants, they are extremely nice and helpful and go above and beyond to make you feel at home. I know this is odd for someone who writes a blog about being gluten-free and proud, but I still get uncomfortable when I have to make a big deal about it at a restaurant. I feel bad because I know I'm that annoying person at the table with the food handicap (thanks, Ben Fileccia). I hate having the spotlight on me- having to explain what it is and ask "Can I have this? How about that?" At both Modo Mio and Monsú, they take care of everything, from the bread service to dessert- you only have to tell them once. I continue to go there because they make me feel, well, normal. And normal is amazing. It is possibly the most wonderful bit of hospitality I have ever experienced.

901 Christian Street
Philadelphia PA 19147


1 comment:

  1. You just sold me on Monsu for my birthday dinner next week!!

    BTW, I met your mom today at the Little Gallery and she sent me to your blog. Love it!!