In Vallé Cucina’s kitchen, chefs form fresh jumbo lump crabmeat into thick patties, pan-sear them to a golden-brown hue, and drizzle their crispy crusts with beurre blanc. The eatery’s crab cakes have been hailed by Delaware Today as the city’s best for several years running. Vallé Cucina’s classic Italian entrees are held to the same high standard: chefs hand-roll gnocchi and drizzle them with slow-simmered tomato sauce, and accent dry-aged steaks with elegant flourishes such as peppercorn brandy cream sauce and blue cheese. Servers recommend selections from Vallé Cucina’s vast wine list to enhance steaks or Trevi Fountain reproductions.
Matt Crist, the new executive chef of Union City Grille, crafts lunches and signature dinners of handmade pastas, rich short-rib chili, and steaks seasoned with a house rub. An updated list of hand-selected wines and over 70 craft beers augment dishes that include hand-turned ricotta gnocchi and gourmet burgers. Guests can enjoy fare in the comfortable dining area, or in the eatery's cozy banquet room, accented with a modern fireplace. Sunday "choose your cut" fillet specials allow guests to feast on steaks discounted by the ounce, or pretend they are directing a film starring steaks.
Drawing on his culinary background working in East Coast bistros and stately hotel kitchens, Mile High Steak & Seafood’s Executive Chef David Robinson crafts a rotating menu of upscale steakhouse cuisine. Robinson, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, refuses to cut corners with his ingredients, going so far as to fly in fresh seafood and grass skirts overnight from the Honolulu Fish Company. He only chooses aged certified Angus beef for his steak-centric entrees, and he revs up traditional sandwiches and appetizers on the bar menu with high-end items such as shaved prime rib, artisan cheeses, and lobster. These gourmet bites pair palatably one of the bar’s signature cocktails or glasses of wine.
Even in his down time, Robinson keeps his culinary skills sharp, coordinating charity events for the Chester County SPCA and the Brandywine Hospital Strawberry Festival. But even with his busy schedule and impressive resumé, he’s still thankful for landing his “dream job” at Mile High Steak & Seafood.
Everything about Reserve exudes swank. Dark wood-paneled rooms and crimson curtains, more than 100 aged bourbons, and a cigar lounge—not to mention contributions from the menu such as organic steak and wild king salmon—work to redefine locals’ impressions of fine dining. Those morsels share tabletop space with entrees including roast duck breast and striped bass, the likes of which chefs lavish with seasonings such as pancetta butter, green peppercorn cream, and truffle chicken broth. The kitchen’s culinary artists also craft morsels of oyster and lobster at a raw bar whose offerings rival the bounty of Poseidon’s larder.
Reserve’s mixologists take over at the bar, where the restaurant’s cache of bourbons pour alongside a dozen draft beers, specialty cocktails, and an array of wines from the grapevines and bottle-growing bushes of California. While perched upon black leather stools amid corinthian pillars, guests also can listen to strands of live jazz as they take in everything.
Under the guidance of chef Tim Bennett, the cooks at Marmont Steakhouse and Bar hand carve tender steaks and prepare fresh seafood, lamb, and chicken dishes. The eatery's diverse steak offerings include lean cuts of filet mignon wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon or topped with crabmeat and sliced asparagus. In warmer months, patrons enjoy outdoor seating that harks back to the days before the invention of walls. Marmont enlists a regular stable of DJs and live musicians to perform throughout the week, with an international wine list and dozens of martinis to embolden listeners to dance.
Dry-Aged Steaks | Raw Bar | Old-School Cocktails | Celebrity Restaurateur | Classic Hollywood Ambiance
Celebrity Restaurateur: Since opening his first eatery at age 21, Stephen Starr has catapulted to the top of Philadelphia's dining scene with his 20-plus STARR Restaurants. His seamless integration of theatrical surroundings and flavorful, upscale cuisine has earned him myriad honors and acclaim, including the informal title of "Philly’s restaurant king" from Bon Appétit.
The Vibe: Vaulted ceilings, sparkling chandeliers, and a bull's head preside over this former brokerage house, whose dark woods and intimate lighting pay homage to the classic era of Hollywood.
While You're Waiting: Grab a libation at the chophouse's horseshoe-shaped bar, which Frommer's lauds as "the perfect spot for a spot of bourbon."
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Load up on great reads at Joseph Fox Bookshop (1724 Sansom Street), a Rittenhouse Square fixture since 1951.
After: Snap along to the smooth sounds of live music at Chris' Jazz Cafe (1421 Sansom Street).
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Try one of Stephen Starr's other restaurants, such as The Dandelion Pub (124 S. 18th Street), which puts an upscale twist on classic British pub grub.