By Phyllis Stein-Novack
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 9 | Posted Jul. 4, 2012

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Spiga is a newcomer to the Center City dining scene with a menu featuring the traditional Italian fare of pizza, pastas and salads.

Photo by Greg Bezanis

Several weeks ago, Edward and I received a call from the Obama Center City campaign office. The young man asked us if we intend to vote for the president in November. We ended up chatting for about 30 minutes. I wanted to volunteer. Scott came to our home for dinner about a week later and we spent three hours talking about everything from politics to the media.

Several weeks later, Sandy and I dropped by the Obama office where Scott introduced us to his boss Peter. A chat ensued and I realized these two young men would be fine dining companions on restaurant reviews. I enjoyed their company and conversation.

We decided to try Spiga, a new casual Italian restaurant on Locust Street where Girasole served up some fine fare.

I settled into a comfortable black leather banquette and ordered a Rob Roy ($12). Peter, comes from an interesting family. He is Norwegian and Swedish. A relative on his grandmother’s side was a French Huguenot who sailed with William Penn on the Welcome.

“I have relatives buried in Christ’s Church Burial Ground,” Peter said.

We liked the simplicity of Spiga’s menu. Appetizers, salads, pizzas, pastas, small plates and entrées are straightforward with something for everyone.

We began dinner with the charcuterie plate of the day ($12). It consisted of three slices of Prosciutto di Parma, salume and spicy sopressata, a handful of top-quality olives, a few slices of sundried tomato and a dollop of slightly sweet onion jam. Our server brought us a small metal pail with slices of Italian bread. I asked for some olive oil and butter because the antipasto needed a drizzle to bring out the flavors. Although Peter and I enjoyed this course, I thought it too pricey for a handful of items. Some cheese or pate would have filled out the course nicely.

Peter earned a degree in political science at the University of California and intends to study law at Berkeley in a year or so. Although he is a California boy, he loves the East Coast, even the blizzards.

Next up was a Spiga salad of the day ($12). It was baby arugula with Jersey blueberries and shards of Parmigianno-Reggiano. We served ourselves and discovered the salad was limp and way overdressed. It also could have used some crunch although the tart blueberries were winners with me.

When someone new joins me on reviews, I am happy as a lark when I discover he or she is not a picky eater.

“I am not allergic to anything and I like almost everything,” Peter said as we perused the pizza list.

Both of us gave high marks to the simple thin-crust pie, which was topped with spinach, yellow heirloom tomatoes, dreamy creamy mozzarella and a hint of fresh homemade tomato sauce.

“I like when ingredients speak for themselves,” I said as I placed another slice on my plate.

Some pasta was in order and Peter told me he loves gnocchi. At Spiga, the gnocchi ($15) are prepared in my favorite manner. Once the light pillows of potato dough are boiled and drained they are mixed with brown butter, fresh sage leaves and crisp Prosciutto di Parma with a dusting of Parmigianno-Reggiano.

“They could be hotter,” I said. “But they are not tough and gummy.”

Spiga is my kind of place. The menu is small yet diverse and portions are good-sized. Service was a little spotty — used plates should be removed before the next course arrived. Although there were a few glitches, they could be corrected with ease.

Two tips of the toque to Spiga.


1305 Locust St.

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Comments 1 - 9 of 9
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1. PhyllisPhan said... on Jul 4, 2012 at 11:16AM

“Fire her please. Figures she likes Obama. Things are going so great with the Celebrity in Chief.”

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2. Anonymous said... on Jul 4, 2012 at 07:08PM

“Looks like Edward has been shut out. One week he's "in a meeting", next week surfer boy from California sweeps Phyllis off her feet. Next thing you know cousin Carl will be making her laugh at some Fairmount hideaway. Not fair, I say. If we readers contribute to these Rob Roy outings through our ad patronage, then we demand equal time for Edward, our drinker-in-chief.”

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3. Crexac said... on Jul 6, 2012 at 09:22AM

““I have relatives buried in Christ’s Church Burial Ground,” Peter said.

What in the world does this have anything to do with Spiga?

Half of this write up is devoted to an uninteresting personal story that has nothing to do with the food, the restaurant, or its chef.

Someone gets paid for this? I feel like I am in crazy town. People who know how to write about food actually exist in Philly.

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4. the reporter is a liberal hack said... on Jul 6, 2012 at 10:27AM

“The next time you read a story look "who;s writing it" if the journalist writes: The evils of the republican party and it's probably wriiten by a person named "Lidia Sylvester Goldstein Shleming"" a graduate from Berkley.”

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5. Victor said... on Jul 9, 2012 at 12:11PM

“"I settled into a comfortable black leather banquette"
"We liked the simplicity of Spiga’s menu."
"tart blueberries were winners with me."
"Both of us gave high marks to the simple thin-crust pie,"
"the gnocchi ($15) are prepared in my favorite manner."
"Spiga is my kind of place. The menu is small yet diverse and portions are good-sized. "

I can see why it only deserves TWO toques. What a horrible experience. But what do you expect from the Siena family who run such dumps as LaFamilia, Panorama and LaCastania? Perhaps it was all that hopeless talk of the hopelessly inept president?”

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6. Jerome said... on Jul 9, 2012 at 01:12PM

“Who cares about the writer's politics? Her prose is dreadful. I die a little every time I read one of her reviews. I can't believe she gets paid to write at all.”

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7. Peter said... on Jul 13, 2012 at 03:31PM

“I just called the office and reported how poor this review was. Why she included her politics is beyond belief. Who cares! Like many of her peculiar taste bud comments this was way off the mark. It is a good restaurant and more courteous than most Vietnamese Restaurants. I discussed her bad review with many in the area who have tried the restaurant and agree its time for her and her cousin and hubby to move on. She is tired. Lets get a new face/s. Enough with her silly monopoly and political persuasions”

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8. Vivian Dominici said... on Jul 14, 2012 at 05:11PM

“My experience at Spiga but I guess reviewer has an opinion too. One I've learn over the year is that you should NOT put too much weight on review (pro or yelpers). Food is largely subjective.”

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9. Maria Carneglia said... on Jul 20, 2012 at 03:50PM

“I usually used to enjoy reading your reviews, Phyllis, but your side of Obama with the entree at Spiga was not appreciated. It had nothing to do with your job. It is getting quite disgusting that you had to share your political view with us. Oh well, if you think President Obama is doing a good job and deserves to be re-elected, then I no longer trust your judgment on dining. NO TIPS OF THE TOQUE FOR YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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