Friday, May 1, 2009

Giorgio on Pine

On the last day of classes, I decided to treat myself and a group of my friends to a nice dinner in the very early celebration of my birthday. After hours and hours of searching online, I stumbled upon the relatively unknown Giorgio on Pine, conveniently located in Center City. After seeing that it had received several great reviews, I decided to make a reservation.

As usual, our group was a little late getting to the restaurant. But the moment we walked in the door, the owner, a very cheerful man, quickly showed us to our table. Upon seating us, they served us with freshly baked bread and an olive oil dip that was simple, but delicious with the bread. The waitress who took our orders was very friendly and helpful, offering suggestions to those who were having a hard time choosing from all the delicious sounding entrees on the menu. The restaurant was also very cooperative, allowing several of us to slightly alter what we ordered, such as making it vegetarian or substituting in other sauces. Unlike some of the small BYOs I have been to, Giorgio’s had a wide selection of appetizers, pastas, and main dishes to choose from.

I ordered gnocchi with parmesan cheese and a braised beef ragout, and several of my friends ordered cheese ravioli with a marinara or tomato cream sauce. Other order choices included rigatoni with sausage and bell peppers in a marinara or white sauce, and linguini with prosciutto, sweet peas, shitake, and cream sauce with a touch of tomato. The pasta is freshly handmade daily, and it’s easy to customize your order as well with whatever sauce you would like.

The gnocchi was some of the best I had ever had. It almost melted in my mouth when I was eating it. From the looks on my friends’ faces, their food was just as delectable. The food was fresh and warm when it was served, and the ragout sauce was simple but full of flavor, with just the right amount of tanginess. The freshly grated Parmesan cheese also complemented the sauce very nicely.

Just when I thought my dining experience couldn’t get any better, the servers surprised us with 3 of their homemade desserts. This included tiramisu, cream cheese cake, and their chocolate cake. The chocolate cake was served with vanilla ice cream and was perfect for me, the chocoholic. It had the perfect balance between the bitterness and sweetness of chocolate. Unfortunately, I didn’t try the other desserts so I can’t comment on those.

One of the best things about Giorgio’s is that none of their dishes cost over $20. Most are priced around the $13-$15 range, which is perfect for a student’s tight budget. Their service was wonderful – they were prompt and easy to talk to, as well as very accommodating. It was also nice to see diners who seemed to be regulars, evident by their casual chit chatting with the servers and the owner. The interior was charming; it was reminiscent of casual European dining, and even though it was small, it didn’t feel cramped. Even though at one point we were the only group there, it wasn’t awkward and the atmosphere was very comfortable. The food was simple, but refreshingly different from some other Italian establishments.

I would highly recommend this restaurant for anyone who is looking for a new Italian BYO to try out, some place other than La Viola, La Fontana, and the like. If you’re looking for simple but great Italian food, impeccable service, and a comfortable atmosphere, then this is the place for you. I would also recommend that you make a reservation, since they are small and can only accommodate about two large groups at a time.

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