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.