Made it to one of Philly's new BYOBs tonight: Branzino, located in the Rittenhouse Square district. Unlike most of the city's BYOB establishments, which offer only the most rudimentary of settings, the Albanian family that started this Italian trattoria decided to cover the walls with bright, intricate murals and add twinkling, crystal chandeliers to give the room an elegant feel.
After my incredibly mind-numbing, all-day business seminar in a poorly lit conference room, elegant was an uplifting necessity. And, the option of bringing my own bottle, an uplifting notion for my pocketbook. (Then again, my company would've reimbursed me for a bottle of Opus One, had I been so inclined - Yes?...Probably, not so much...Better I hit the State Store and get a decent bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in route.)
Settling into the attractive room my German waiter from Stuttgart came over and let me know about the specials.
Wait: A German waiter in an Italian restaurant run by Albanians? I could be in deep trouble.
Thankfully, my worries were for naught. My first shared course of fresh Buffalo Mozzarella with Roasted Sweet Red Peppers was lovely and the Farfalle with Crabmeat and Shrimp in a Tomato Cream Sauce was absolutely luscious. The pasta was al dente and the shrimp were plump and flavorful. And, most difficult to attain - the creamy, rosy sauce didn't overwhelm the dish and I could even taste the flakes of sweet crabmeat.
And, the piece de la resistance: the whole Branzino, deboned tableside, served with a lemon, butter, caper sauce.
So, for tonight, I will bask in the glow of Branzino. I'll take all the glow I can get. For tomorrow, I return to the bad lighting, bad coffee and badly overwrought phrases like "strategic positioning" at Day 2 of my business seminar.
Oh, please let there be a bar car on my Amtrak train back to New York!