Branzino Italian Ristorante had been serving up classic old world Italian food for 13 years in the heart of Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square before a devastating fire closed the restaurant for 2 years. Luckily this Spring owner Luan Tota put the final touches on the renovation of the new Branzino 2.0. Former guests anxiously awaited the June 1st official reopening of the restaurant which now features a dining room with modern touches and their original outdoor garden patio that is open to enjoy the Spring and Summer weather. 

We stopped by on a Friday evening to enjoy the beautiful weather and enjoy a bottle of Italian wine. We perused the menu which includes many of our favorites from the old Branzino. Especially in the warmer months we are drawn to the fresh seafood dishes and seasonal homemade pastas. To start our server was raving about the Chargrilled Octopus with potato fritto, bell pepper sott’acetto, and morcilla. 

We also enjoyed the light Wild Baby Arugula Salad with shaved pear, pecorino, and lemon vinaigrette. Other traditional favorites include the Mozzarella di Bufala with heirloom tomato, basil, ursini olive oil, and sea salt. Our favorite appetizer was probably the Artichoke alla Romana with roasted pepper, fresh ricotta, and fett’unta. We will certainly admit that one of our favorite flavors of summer is biting into juicy grilled artichoke hearts.

The next course is always a favorite of ours. Homemade pastas showcase the simplicity and care in dishes that highlight really great seasonal elements. Branzino boasts lots of seafood on its menu so we decided on the Cavatelli with little pink shrimp, cauliflower, oven roasted tomato, and basil. Also a sucker for the pillowy softness of a good gnocchi dish, we tried the Gnocchi with truffle cream and mushrooms. Other popular pasta dishes include the Crab Ravioli  with asparagus and lemon or the Garganelli with duck confit, roasted shallot, kale, and herbed ricotta. 

And for the main course we could not possibly leave without trying the namesake, Branzino filleted table side with roasted asparagus, and a lemon caper butter sauce. We also enjoyed the evening’s special Pan Seared Red Snapper. Other entrees include Salmon with spring vegetable scafata, and red wine sauce or Capesante Diver Scallops with parsnip pure, radish confit, roasted mushroom, and pine nut gramolata. 

Carnivores will enjoy options like NY Strip Steak with roasted fingerling potato, watercress, gorgonzola, and pickled shallots. If you’re more adventurous we’d suggest trying the Guancia Veal Cheeks with bone marrow, potato pure, and a port wine reduction or Suckling Pig with smoked eggplant puree, cipollini onion agrodolce, and yogurt. 

We didn’t have room for dessert, but diners can enjoy traditional favorites like Cannolis and Tiramisu. Branzino is now accepting reservations via OpenTable. Private parties are also welcomed from 40 to 120 people can be accommodated in private dining rooms and up to 180 guests can be entertained with use of the private patio area. Whether its a special occasion or a business meeting, dinner with your family and friends or a private party, Branzino would love to host you!

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