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February 19, 2008
December 15, 2005
"Under the sea, under the sea"--I find myself singing this popular tune whenever I think about Sotto Varalli. It could be the giant squid that looks down on their beautiful bar, or maybe it’s the starfish lights hanging over the tables. I’m not sure, but I find myself breaking into song at the thought.
This was the designated location of our get-together in Philadelphia with guides kjlouden and samlawali. I picked Sotto Varalli because I had purchased discounted gift certificate and this seemed the perfect opportunity to use them. As it turned out, it was located right across the street from samlawali’s hotel.
We had reservations for 5:45pm and were greeted by the perky and smiling hostess who directed us to the coat check and then promptly sat us at a round table to accommodate the five of us. Everywhere around us there was "sea" decor, but the one that really caught our attention was the water that was running down the glass between the rooms, very attractive.
Our waiter’s name was Duran, and he was amazing. He had a waiter in training along with him and introduced him to us when he first visited our table. I can’t say enough about the quality of the service that we received, from start to finish, here. Everyone made us feel special, as if our presence was welcome, what a refreshing concept.
As we ordered our meal, we began satiating our hunger with wonderful bread and olive oil and pesto for dipping. When we got low on the first basket, a second miraculously appeared. Two appetizers were ordered; sam tried the crab cocktail, which was a special, and I had the fresh mozzarella and tomato salad. Both of them were very good and beautifully presented.
The menu offers an eclectic selection of pasta, seafood, and meat choices. We covered the gamut, sea scallops, duck, pasta, and red snapper. I had the sea scallops, four beauties with a piece of bacon sticking out of the top and a bed of spinach filling the center of the bowl. I also had a taste of Al’s fig sauce, which was decadently sweet. Everyone raved about their meals.
I loved the fact that they provided a small carafe of coffee along with your cup so you never had to worry about getting a refill. We tried three of the desserts: a very tart key lime tart; Grand Marnier creme brulee, with subtle hints of orange under a crispy sugar crust; and a chocolate pyramid. Al and I split the chocolate pyramid, a luscious little beauty served with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.
Everything about this restaurant was first-class, and I highly recommend it.
From journal Phive for Philly