The Philadelphia Italian Market is an mecca of fresh produce, cheese, meats, homemade pasta, pastries, random assortments of kitchen accessories, and an iconic landmark of Philadelphia. Many people associate the Italian Market with a fun Saturday of going from stand to stand and mingling with the locals.
Last Friday, Jordan visited Nina Trattoria, at 9th and Christian Street — right in the heart of the Italian Market — with her infamous “dinner club.” Dinner club evolved from a few random conversations about cooking food together to a monthly (sometimes bi-monthly) gathering of a group of friends. The idea is to give us something fun to all do together, to try new recipes, and hang out! Fortunately, everyone seems very willing to adopt the #jlf style into these meals! This month our host decided cooking was beyond him so a BYOB won out!
Nina Trattoria serves a lot of standard Italian fare but it is fresh. Everything is made in house: the gnocchi (I heard it was delicious!), the pasta, and the gravy (remember, we are in South Philadelphia so “sauce” is “gravy”).
The key is: how easy is it to go #jlf style? Jordan had high hopes — she had enjoyed brunch here a few months before and easily ordered a DELICIOUS frittata. Unfortunately, dinner was a little more of a challenge. It seems that the chef pre-marinates/seasons a lot of their dishes (even the beets…). This made it difficult to find something that was gave Jordan a “clean slate” to work with. Many of the pre-seasonings were fresh — but a few (including some balsamic reduction) gave Jordan pause.
Jordan ended up with a delicious shrimp sautéed in olive oil and lemon with capers, tomatoes, and onions served over warmed arugula. Since Jordan was dairy free that week (an experiment that did not last), she avoided any cheese that evening. The waitress had recommended the steak as a #jlf option but Jordan decided to stay with lighter fare that evening. The flavors were very good and the shrimp tasted fresh!
Overall, Nina Trattoria is a solid option if you want to eat in the Italian market and your dinner companions want good, solid Italian fare. And, as a bonus, they easily accommodated our larger group (around 8 people). In fact, during our dinner, a group of 38 were upstairs using the restaurant’s event space. Fortunately, we never felt the effect of this large group on our dinner. It is nice as BYOB but the restaurant is seeking a liquor license — so this will likely change soon. Jordan would give this a 3.5* on the #jlf scale. (But 4* for brunch!).
J & L