If you skimmed over Le Virtù chef Joe Cicala’s resume, you’d quickly understand why everyone says he runs one of the best Italian restaurants in Philadelphia. Called “one of the city’s young kitchen talents to watch” by The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Craig LaBan, Cicala is a four-time James Beard Semifinalist and one time Finalist. At Le Virtù, he brings to life the central Italian region of Abruzzo, dishing out cured meats, fresh pastas, seafood and more.
Here’s five dishes you must order from Cicala:
Le Virtù means serious business when it comes to salumi, dedicating an entire menu section to delicious cured meats and sausages. Choose from pancetta, n’duja (hot spreadable salame from Calabria), prosciutto, mortadella, bresaola (dried beef) and more, and pair with a couple of cheeses for a pre-meal delight!
Tossed in a “sugo finto” (Tuscan meatless ragu), the braised egg and cheese croquettes, called Palott Cac’ e Ove in Italian, are a “meatball” dish both vegetarians and carnivores can enjoy.
The menu showcases the cuisine of central Italy — Abruzzo specifically — highlighting the region’s love of pasta. You can’t go wrong when it comes to Le Virtu’s carb choices but we suggest the Maccheroni Alla Mugnaia, a 60-foot single-strand, hand-pulled piece of pasta with garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, hot pepper and pecorino.
We’re salivating just thinking about the Porchetta, a Roasted Country Time Farm pork belly prepared with cicerchie (small, dried beans like chickpeas), charred broccoli rabe, and preserved lemon.
A healthy dish that doesn’t compromise flavor, the Brodetto is a lightly spiced seafood stew with heirloom peppers and tomato “guazzetto” (typically a tomato, garlic, parsley, and olive sauce that the fish bathes in).