During my (slow) exploration of Italian restaurants in Philly, I decided to drop into Gnocchi, a familiar but long-since visited byob just off South Street. I thought I remembered hearing something about an old chef returning to Gnocchi, but, at this moment, can not dig up that rumor. Perhaps I am confused.
Warm and chatty Italian servers at Gnocchi greet newcomers with open arms, while giving hugs and kisses to regulars ducking into the charming, dimly lit and narrow eatery accented by walls painted with Italian images. Gnocchi may not be a new, up-and-comer in the dining scene with innovative food, but it is clear that Gnocchi is a loved comfort spot in the Queen Village neighborhood.
A basket of complimentary Italian bread starts the evening.
A salad of baby greens and goat cheese is unexciting, but will fulfill your healthy green requirement and keep you busy until pasta, the main attraction of the evening, hits the table.Slightly more interesting is the watermelon and mozzarella salad drizzled with sweet balsamic vinegar, a salad special of the day enjoyed back when watermelon was in season.I am terrified of ordering gnocchi at restaurants, for fear of receiving little leaden, tough potato balls. Since the restaurant's moniker is Gnocchi, I figured it was safe to order the gnocchi. And it is. Three different kinds of gnocchi are on the menu — gnocchi in aurora sauce, gnocchi in three cheese alfredo sauce, and spinach gnocchi in Parmesan alfredo sauce — along with a gnocchi special of the day.
The gnocchi in creamy three cheese Alfredo sauce studded with shiitake mushrooms, radicchio, and roasted peppers is inherently heavy, but if you eat a normal portion (less than what's on the plate), you can leave Gnocchi without the remorse of an overfull belly.
Besides gnocchi, other classic Italian pasta and meat dishes are on the menu. The boy opted for a hefty portion of the seafood-heavy linguine fra diavolo with shrimp and crab in a spicy tomato sauce.
If you're in the neighborhood and want a warm and inviting, traditional Philly Italian byob experience, Gnocchi fits the bill.
613 E. Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19147