I am way behind the ball, but I wanted to mention three restaurants that I ate at with a friend over the course of three days in mid-July, mainly because they are all recommended:
Barbuzzo: Barbuzzo has been on my list to try for awhile. Located in that stretch of 13th Street that is so replete with good eateries, Barbuzzo serves Mediterranean small plates, with a definite emphasis on Italian cuisine. We tried a variety of dishes, including the vegetable board (which was very good, but not as good as Osteria's vegetable antipasto, see below) and their coniglio pizza, which has rabbit-hazelnut sausage on it. It did not quite live up to some of the hype I had heard, but the pizza was very, very good, and I think with another go at the menu, I could probably find a combination of dishes that would really sing to me.
Fond: Fond is one of these Passyunk Avenue BYOBs that seems so popular in Philadelphia these days. And when it comes to Fond, there is a good reason for this. They have a pretty small menu, and when we were there they offered only a couple of specials, but the result are dishes cooked to perfection. We enjoyed the veal sweetbreads and the hiramasu crudo, but the highlight was definitely the main course. My friend ordered the salmon, but she could not stop raving about the house-made fettucine, which tasted like pure buttery goodness. I ordered the swordfish, which was quite honestly the best rendition of swordfish I have ever had. Fond is definitely top ten material in this city, and could push into my top five.
Osteria: This is the third time I have been to Osteria, and the second time I have had something other than its signature pizzas. Every time I have been, however, I have had the seasonal vegetable antipasto, and it is definitely a must have. Fresh, colorful, simple, and just downright delicious. The grilled pork belly, served with melon balls and mint, is also excellent. The pasta changes from time to time, but this time I enjoyed ravioli with peaches and guanciale. It was a small portion, but perfectly delicious, and left plenty of room for a killer white chocolate lavender mousse with blackberries. Osteria has cemented itself as one of my favorite restaurants in Philadelphia, and is definitely in my top ten, and another worthy challenger for top five.
In short: Osteria and Fond are must-trys, and Barbuzzo is certainly worthy of much (but not all) of its buzz.