I met Dashiell Davis last spring when he arrived in my kitchen with his camera to shoot me and chef Mitch Prensky making gefilte fish. I never met a man named Dashiell. I quickly assumed his parents enjoyed the detective stories penned by the great Dashiell Hammett and named their first-born in his honor.
Dash turned 23 last April. For months, we planned a celebratory dinner, but our schedules failed to gel until last week. I recalled a restaurant just off Broad and Pine that features Italian cucina. We walked over to Giorgio on Pine armed with a bottle of Walt Wit and two Yuengling Black and Tans.
The bi-level BYOB features exposed brick walls, granite-topped tables and lovely glassware. The walls are painted in creams and tangerine, set off with eye-appealing artwork and mirrors.
Nina our server explained the specials of the evening and gave the prices. I almost fell off my chair. This is a rare occurrence. Dash and I perused the menu and began to enjoy one of the finest Italian dinners I have savored since last March at Osteria.
We began our culinary journey to various regions of Italy with grilled scampi ($9) and sautéed mushrooms ($8.75). Our first antipasto was Italy on a plate. Small, slightly sweet shrimp were grilled and tossed with a blend of olive oil and lemon juice. Tiny white beans were coated in seasoned crumbs and sautéed. I have eaten this dish in a number of restaurants and the beans are always naked. A mound of spring mix was placed near the shrimp. Dash and I scraped our plates clean.
Sautéed mushrooms are sometimes done in a port or any heady red wine. At Giorgio, the chef sautés them and finishes them in a light cream sauce laced with fragrant basil. The fungi were nestled in a puff pastry, which was extraneous, but still delicious. Some field greens were on the plate. Once again, we scraped our plates clean.
We nibbled on a Tuscan farmhouse loaf we topped with seasoned olive oil and whole cloves of roasted garlic. A demitasse spoon was placed on the rim of the plate to prevent double dipping. More restaurants should add a small spoon with olive oil.
We shared the Bucatini ($13.50) that was thoughtfully split in the kitchen. The pasta was piping-hot and tossed with pancetta, bits of sautéed onions and a splash of white wine in a slightly reduced homemade marinara sauce. This is one of my favorite pasta dishes. It was Italian cucina at its best. A handful of fresh ingredients makes for a fine dish.
Dash wanted veal and I wanted pork. Veal with prosciutto ($20) was authentic Saltimbocca. Several tender slices were sautéed with fresh sage leaves and topped with slightly salty imported prosciutto di Parma. The addition of as few mushrooms added some headiness to a light dish we both liked. The Madeira reduction sauce added a little bit of sweetness.
My pork was about the best I’ve ever sampled in a restaurant. It was slightly pink inside as it must be. Too many cooks ruin this meat by overcooking it to a dry dust. The loin was marinated in apple cider and included a homemade compote of Vidalia onions and chopped apples.
If you have not discovered Giorgio on Pine, book a table right away. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and bring your best bottle of Italian wine.
Dash had to dine and dash because he was off to a Phillies game. Although his birthday was four months ago, we toasted his health with Pennsylvania beer.
Three tips of the toque to Giorgio on Pine.
Giorgio on Pine
1328 Pine St.