Some of our favorite restaurants in Philadelphia are BYOBs that give you the feeling of eating in the comfort of someone’s home- complete with a meal prepared with love. Trattoria Carina is definitely one of these kind of spots. The casual neighborhood Italian restaurant, formerly Filter Dining Room, is run by the owner’s of Pub & Kitchen. The restaurant focuses on providing delicious food and a welcoming atmosphere at the corner of 22nd and Spruce. The restaurant name means “Little Darling” in Italian and it’s quite appropriate for this charming and easygoing 32-seat trattoria.
Seasonal changes to the menu keep things fresh and a variety of homemade pastas and classic Italian dishes can always be found made up of the freshest ingredients. Initially only open for dinner, Trattoria Carina is now offering brunch on the weekends also. Start off your brunch with a homemade Bloody Mary complete with antipasti skewer for a fun Italian twist. Of course, you’re also welcome to bring along your own alcohol. The fresh baked slice of Seasonal Cake with homemade salted butter is a great little snack that won’t ruin your appetite for the rest of the meal.
The Cipollini Onion & Potato Tart with bitter green salad and percorino is a great appetizer option for the savory palette. We also very much enjoyed the subtle sweetness of the Warm Castle Valley Polenta with honey mascarpone, walnut granola, and concord grape. If you’ve never tried this Italian comfort food allow us to elaborate- basically, polenta is made from ground cornmeal, much like grits from the South. Polenta is made with flint corn so its a bit more coarse than grits and usually gets cooked low and slow with any combination of water, milk, cream and butter. It can be served creamy, chilled and cut into squares and then baked or fried. It’s also not just for breakfast- it is particularly delicious when paired with marinara sauce.
Leaning towards the lunch-style brunch dishes we heard rave reviews for the Meatball Sandwich. We ordered it and can see why its a favorite- our only aside is that we wish it was bigger so we could have leftovers! Lost Bread Co. crispy baguette with arugula pesto, and creamy stracciatella cheese make this a killer saucy sandwich. You can also try a smaller version of the Trattoria Carina meatballs in the Spaghetti Pomodoro dish. And last but not least was the Bucatini Carbonara – this pasta dish is the true meaning of brunch. Its breakfast and lunch all in one. Carbonara sauce is made with lots of cream and egg yolk, pieces of crispy bacon and parmesan cheese finish it off.
Although Trattoria Carina is BYOB they also offer a small bar program, featuring Italian wines by the glass and a rotating selection of cocktails and beer. So don’t worry if you don’t have time to grab something beforehand. Reservations can be made via OpenTable.