Sunday, February 12, 2012

Victor's Cafe

Victor's Cafe
1303 Dickinson St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147

This place is FANTASTIC.

I have to be completely honest about my original draw to this restaurant. My mother loves Rocky Balboa, so I took to a Google search to find out where "Adrian's Restaurant" was located in the city. I scoped out the website and saw that it seemed like an inviting, South Philly Italian restaurant. We had been to Ralph's and a few others in the city but nothing really blew us away.

We called at about 6PM on a Saturday night, and the two of us were able to get a 7:30 reservation-- not without a quick moment of speculation. So if you're planning on a visit, especially with anymore than two people, call ahead.

The place appears very quaint from the typical South Philly street on Dickinson. Once inside, the place was thriving: the wait staff criss-crossed the restaurant, preparing tables and serving the other patrons, a mild-mannered round young man bellowing out some famous aria I couldn't identify, the owners (or management?) were answering a phone that seemingly rang every other minute. Following the performance we were promptly seated and given menus and the specials by are server Jason.

If there were one complaint, it would be that the wait staff is apparently responsible for every function of the restaurant outside of the kitchen. You will see these guys clean and prep tables, serve food, sing, get nagged by customers for photos, and I counted no less than four happy birthday promenades, complete with four-part harmony.

The food was fantastic. If you're ordering a salad, two can split one--  though I had no problem housing my baby arugula salad by myself. The salad was the best I have ever eaten. Perfectly aged balsamic vinegar, a nice Italian cheese that I cant remember, sliced pears, walnuts- truly a perfect match. The penne dish was tasty, adorned with tender chicken, tomatoes, parsley and mozzarella. I could see where some may be critical of this dish, however I felt it was perfectly balanced and filling. My mother had the scallops and shrimp pasta dish. The scallops were perfectly tender, not at all chewy nor over-cooked.

The ambiance of this place is truly what makes it. You can really feel the "living history" the moment you set foot inside. The owners told us of the history of the property, which takes its name from its opening in 1918 as a RCA Victor record store. The place would make a great date to really impress. Upstairs is a cozy bar you can slip away to after your meal.

All in all, a great place. I will be back.