My brother and nieces stopped by on their way to VA from NY, and we usually go out to eat when they are passing through. We just wanted something simple and headed over to the local coffee shop, but sadly it was closed early on a Sunday night. As the search for a place to eat delayed our meal, our appetite grew larger, and concerned for his long drive home, my brother requested that our search focus on anything along the route from NJ to VA.
Cichetteria 19 fit the bill for many reasons. Philly is on the way to VA, and just under an hour drive for us Jersey folks, so can easily be round-trip for us. The menu featured both small and large plates, with pizzas in between. And there were plenty of bonuses for us going the extra mile: a surprisingly chic cocoon off Rittenhouse Square, charming staff (hostess & chef/owner, specifically), and tremendously good food, both in quality and price. Once we were told that ingredients were local and organic, I was instantly gratified knowing my daughter could indulge in all the dairy to her heart's content. I tried the Walt Wit beer, which the hostess likened to a Hoegaarden and is locally brewed. And I was amused that the poultry (which we had none of, sadly) were from a farm not far from me, in Princeton.
Listed simply, the food does sound simple: calamari, pizza, tiramisu. But in each there were surprising flavors, and all could be accompanied by fare off the beaten path, like octopus as an appetizer and salmon on pizza. It's also always fun to have the servers tell you what cheeses they are serving you-- seems pretty funny having your cheeses announced like royalty. And I know I'm running out of glowing adjectives, so I'd like to direct you to Cichetteria 19's website, which describes the food, not in a boastful way, but an honest one.
Simply put, I will be back. Specifically for happy hour, and to give (again) my compliments to the chef.