Urban Enoteca

By Phyllis Stein-Novack
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 6 | Posted May. 31, 2012

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Urban Enoteca, located on the ground floor of The Latham Hotel, is a place to grab a bite following a day of shopping along Walnut Street.

Photo by Greg Bezanis

For the past five years or so, the restaurant on the lobby floor of The Latham Hotel had been vacant. I would walk by and wonder when a new restaurant would open.

Urban Enoteca now fills the space, and is open for breakfast, lunch, weekend brunch and dinner.

The dining area, which is small by hotel standards, has a bar, community table in the center, as well as comfortable, dark wood tables and blue upholstered chairs.

Sandy and I made three visits to Urban Enoteca. The all-day menu suited us although a few hot entrées are added after 5 p.m.

I savored the Portofino fish sandwich ($15) prepared with fresh, juicy haddock dipped into a batter blended with Peroni beer. The fish, served on a ciabatta roll, sat on a thin layer of Provolone and was topped with a lemon tartar sauce, which added a bit of zing. It comes with a choice of coleslaw or truffle fries, which could have been a bit more crispy, but Sandy and I enjoyed the flavor.

Sandy ate her first vegetarian sandwich with gusto. Grilled vegetable panini ($12) consisted of marinated zucchini, meaty portobello mushrooms, Provolone, roasted red peppers, tangy goat cheese and tomato spread with aioli on a pressed Italian roll.

Since Walnut Street is a favorite shopping mecca for us, we headed back to Urban Enoteca a week later.

“Let’s share the steak salad since last week [our server] Michael told us it is quite large,” I said to my sister.

We ordered the beef medium-rare. The menu bistecca steak salad ($18) with grilled marinated sirloin, mixed greens, olives, Gorgonzola, artichokes, Italian pignolis, herb-roasted tomatoes, crispy onions and white balsamic vinaigrette."

It was dreadful, overdressed and inedible. Ordinary bagged mesclun was used and since it was a soggy mess, one cannot call them crisp greens. There was so much imitation balsamic vinegar that we had to return it.

The manager apologized. Two new salads were prepared with some yellow romaine leaves, ramekins of olive oil, lemon wedges, one artichoke loaded with vinegar, two pitted olives, sliced beef and a few pine nuts. I needed a microscope to detect the Gorgonzola.

The manager saw us picking at our lunch. He gave me his card and invited us to lunch. The gentleman had no idea of my identity.

Prosciutto-crusted white prawns ($10) consisted of two medium shrimp wrapped in Prosciutto. They were flavorful, but someone forgot the oregano salad. There were four tiny oregano leaves, along with dots of honey laced with lemon, on the plate.

Sandy had to try the fish sandwich that I enjoyed two weeks before. She loved it.

Our server brought us a basket of warm ciabatta and Italian bread baked with Asiago cheese. The butter, topped with sea salt and snipped fresh chives, was soft.

Maine lobster with shrimp scampi- style ($16) was not very good. I rate it a C-minus. Three shrimp, some lobster-claw meat, two croutons and peas, which must have come from a can because they were so wrinkled, were set in an oily broken sauce that separated as soon as I forked some shellfish, which, by the way, was not a bit overcooked. I have no idea what the peas were doing there as this dish cried out for fennel and onions.

“Would you like something sweet?” our server asked.

Straight from the early-'90s chocolate lava cake was nicely done, not at all sweet and topped with creamy vanilla gelato. A cup of rich, dark coffee called Royal Cup ended lunch.

I think Urban Enoteca's menu could be so much better and we found the first-rate service better than the bill of fare.

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Comments 1 - 6 of 6
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1. Fatso said... on May 31, 2012 at 08:14AM

“I wonder if the author has any opinions on the obesity crisis in the US, and the role restaurants like this one play in it. I bring this up because of the glee I detect every time the writer encounters fried food or fattening desserts.”

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2. Victor said... on May 31, 2012 at 11:18AM

“Too bad they made a dirt food joint.
Two of the classiest places in town were there. Not Quite Cricket and Bogart's.
Homes to Real Mad Men of advertising. Great martinis (I think Riba was the bar maid at Cricket) and roast beef. Cricket was great to meet for a discreet interview or doodle out a campaign. Bogart's to take a client or celebrate.
Why can't they bring those back?”

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3. Anonymous said... on Jun 1, 2012 at 11:20AM

“"the gentleman had no idea of my identity" hahahahaaa...... sounds like your dining compadres have the palette of a fussy 5 year old.”

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4. Marty Medals said... on Jun 1, 2012 at 03:25PM

“So sad.
The steak salad at the Broad Street Diner is a really great value for only $10.50. It contains fresh crisp lettuce, tomato, hard boiled eggs, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, and topped off with grilled sirloin tips. Yum! and the waitresses call you "doll!"”

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5. Sam said... on Jun 3, 2012 at 07:21PM

“The only thing of "value" in that salad is the tomato, and I bet it's one of those hard-as-a-baseball types. Otherwise you get:
"crisp" lettuce, which means non-nutritious iceberg
hard-boiled eggs, full of cholesterol
cheddar, full of fat
mozzarella, with more saturated fat
sirloin, with its animal fat, grilled in fatty oil.

See you in the cardiac ward Marty.

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6. Phyllis Stein-Novack said... on Jun 5, 2012 at 06:16AM

“I had such hopes for this restaurant. I have fond memories of Bogart's which was right out of Rick's in Casablanca. It was romantic, enchanting and the food delicious. Edward almost proposed to me during dinner at Bogart's. As for unhealthy food - I NEVER deep fry anything at home. If french fries come with lunch or dinner I taste them and that's it. I do not finish them. Fried fish is another food I will taste but not cook at home. I would say the majority of the foods I sample are fresh, healthy and delicious. My food features bear this out. See above for local berries.”


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