Rittenhouse has always been a favorite neighborhood of ours in the city & when Scarpetta came in at the end of 2016, it gave us all the more reason to find our way to that section of Philadelphia. We fell upon the Library Bar in The Rittenhouse Hotel last winter and immediately fell in love with the charm and off the beaten path of this hidden gem. We know what you're thinking...how can a bar situated perfectly on the northwest corner of the most popular park in the city (especially around the winter holidays) be "hidden" or "off the beaten path?" Well, to our surprise and luck, The Rittenhouse Hotel's entrance sits back from the street a bit and unless you're in search of the Library Bar, you may not know it's there. Enter the hotel lobby and go a few more feet until making your second right (1st is Scarpetta). Down a hallway with views of the courtyard on your left, you realize you're in the right spot when you see the ornate fireplace & leather chairs surrounding smaller low tables. You feel like you've entered a hide-away that only you know about...unless there are others!
In the winter, we like to get a spot closest to the fireplace to enjoy the warmth after being outside, plus the ambiance is unparalleled. Creatures of habit, and being one of the only groups there, we chose our spot by the (unlit) fire and waited briefly before being welcomed with water and light snacks. We ordered our drinks (and old Fashion & a Cava Champagne) as we waited for the rest of our group to arrive. Being it the week after my birthday, my husband and I were still talking about the festivities from the weekend before while our waitress brought our drinks. When the rest of our party arrived, another Old Fashion was ordered, Badenhorst "Secateurs" Rosé from Swartland, South Africa and a seasonal cocktail - The Rose Tattoo (photo to the right) - Hendrick's, Yellow Chartreuse, Lillet Rosé & Persian Rose Tea. It was getting closer to our reservation at Scarpetta; as we were finishing our drinks the waitress came over with a very special surprise! No girl can turn down a little blue box, especially when it's covering a great chocolate dessert! It was so nice to be able to continue to celebrate my birthday at The Library Bar!
What's great about grabbing drinks at The Library Bar before Scarpetta is that you never have to go back outside! Whether in the heat of the summer, or the dead of winter...once you're in, you're in! We were seated by the windows on the second floor overlooking the park before the sun sets. We ordered some wine and cocktails before the first course of our tasting menu arrived (yes, we enjoy our tasting menus, it gives you an opportunity to try dishes you might otherwise not know you liked, or ordered but bear in mind, Scarpetta's Tasting menu is only available Sunday through Thursday). What's great with this tasting menu is that every course is a pair - you receive two dishes as a duo which compliment one another. For Course One we enjoyed a duo of Raw Yellowtail with olio di zenzero, seat salt & pickled red onion and Tuna Susci, marinated vegetables & preserved truffle. Both complimented one another with a refreshing and fresh start to the meal. I love truffle so this was perfect for me however another guest at our table isn't too wild about it and still loved this dish. The flavor is not overbearing to the fresh fish but rather a great addition. The Second Course was a Creamy Polenta fricassee of truffled mushrooms paired with Braised Short Ribs of Beef, vegetable & farro Risotto. It was the perfect blend of bold flavors of the short ribs mixed with the subtle but delicious taste of the polenta. By this time we were getting full, especially after a heavier dish. The wait staff took this into consideration and there was a delay in the next course. It was the perfect time to enjoy the sun setting and the changing of the colors in the park. We sipped on some wine, sat back and took it all in before the Third Course arrived. This was the pasta course of the night, a duo of spaghetti & short rib &
bone marrow agnolotti with garlic chips & horseradish. The traditional and simple spaghetti dish was perfectly matched with the flavors of the agnolotti. By this point we were so full, but the deliciousness kept us picking just a bit more & before we knew it...out plates were clean. With one more savory course, we were reserved in allowing them to clear our p
lates so that we had a bit more time in between courses (clearly the theme here is their generous portion sizes!) Our Fourth Course was where we were able to choose our dishes individually. The overwhelming response was moist-roasted capretto however my mother-in-law decided to go with the black cod. Both we absolutely delicious...so delicious that we didn't get images of EITHER! That just leaves it up to you, if you're interested, to go and do the tasting menu before it changes! We're sure with the weather going from warm to cooler, it won't be long before the tasting menu focuses on more dishes to warm you up.
Last up...the espresso budino cup. This has got to be one of our favorite desserts. We love the salted carmel budino at Barbuzzo so we knew we were in for another great dessert! Unlike the budino at Barbuzzo, Scarpetta focused on a more coffee flavored dessert with espresso topping & a biscotti. Definitely did not disappoint & we can't wait to come back soon!
The Library Bar & Scarpetta are our favorites when the temperatures start to drop & we're ready to cozy up to a fire. Thank you for the hospitality & the great meal to celebrate!