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food-ie event #8: Cucina Forte

Cucina Forte - 10/25/07 7pm

768 South 8th Street
Philadelphia, PA
Phone: 215-238-0778

We had a gr
eat time at Cucina Forte.

It was our smallest group yet though it certainly didn't feel like it. The restaurant was a cozy atmosphere and Pina and the staff offered us warm welcomes and one long table for our food-ie night. As our group arrived, we enjoyed the homemade bread and antipasto plates and my sister made some friends with some regular patrons sitting nearby that I too had the pleasure to meet. Talking to them was like talking to family members at a reunion. They were glad to see us there, discovering what they'd known to be gem of an eating destination, a local secret, if you will, that they were glad to share.

The menu, as promised was very good. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the color of the dishes, the freshness of the ingredients and the presentation on each plate. The service was flawless, very attentive without being intrusive and this restaurant was not empty on this particular Thursday.

Of course, as s
ome of us were sitting near the far end of the table, away from the kitchen, we secretly mumbled our resentment and justified bitter envy of the dessert portions for the first half of the table. As the dessert plates were delivered to each person starting near the kitchen and finally towards our end - closer to the door, we noticed how the serving sizes of the Ricotta Cheese cake progressively (or regressively?) shrank. Perhaps this was a result of the inherent generosity of the servers realizing that there was a risk of running out. If such thoughts even occurred to us at the time they simply didn't deter our jealous whispers . As it turns out, the comparatively puny serving of fluffly creamy ricotta cheese cake and an admittedly decent serving of the super rich fudgey homemade double chocolate mousse cake for our end of the table was... ahem... um... more than enough. Sure, I myself looked halfway down the table at Elaine's mountain of cheesecake on her plate and back at my small dab and thought ..... well, never mind what I though. Truth is, I never even finished mine. Dessert and excellent coffee at the end of such a good meal had me more than content before I could finish.

Oh, and it's true, the gnocchi in their homemade marinara sauce is as light as a feather and super for a second course. I look forward to returning to try the spinach gnoochi next time.

Elaine(on right) with
gloating dessert grin

The Menu
Home made bread, antipasto plates on table as we arrive

1st course:
Choice of Soup or Salad.
Soup-Maria's Dream Soup-Chicken breast, wild mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, carrots, all in a chicken broth base.
Salad-Mixed greens with tomatoes, olives, onion tossed in our homemade balsamic dressing.

2nd course:
Everyone would get their famous homemade ricotta gnocchi in their homemade marinara sauce.

3rd course:

(choice of)
Pollo Forte-Grilled Chicken w/ crabmeat, wild mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes
Veal Limone-Lightly pounded and floured veal in a lemon and white wine sauce
Salmon-grilled or sauteed with spinach and wild mushrooms(must choose grilled or sauteed ahead of time)
Tilapia-pan-seared with capers, diced tomatoes, extra virgin oil
(*veg) Taconelle con porcini:wide spinach pasta w/porcini mushrooms and asparagus in a light cream sauce.
**All dinners prepared with extra virgin olive oil and garlic where needed

4th course:
Coffee and Dessert(does not include cappuccino or espresso)
Everyone will receive a sliver of our homemade ricotta cheesecake and homemade double chocolate mousse cake on each plate) topped with sugar and specialty sauces.

This is a BYOB and there's no corking fee.
Sodas and Coffee will be included.

Group portrait after our meal at Cucina Forte 10/25/07
*(as best I could manage without our favorite photographer, Cho)