So many Philadelphians answer the alluring call of that cultured global capital to the East, only to return home years later brimming with worldly sophistication and class. Of course, we're talking about AC. Stepping off the casino return bus in style, Girasole.
Banking on the success of the Locust St original, Girasole opened a still-strong AC branch and eventually shut down the Philly operation, but this week returns to Symphony House bursting lustily with class: a copper-toned modern Italian boutique eatery decked out with Versace banquettes and place-settings, silk-shaded Israeli lamps, a tri-tiered handcrafted wrought iron display fixture, and a horseshoe bar topped with Italian marble (that's one sturdy delivery moped). Carpaccio's the draw, from the signature Girasole (warm, thinly sliced filet w/ asparagus, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, shaved parmigiano, truffle oil), to the Tuna (sun-dried tomatoes, Belgian endive), but pasta's key as well (gnocchi w/ Stracchino cheese; chitarra w/ shrimp, calamari, clams, and jumbo lump crabmeat; bavette with langostino); the fish standout's the spigola (Italian sea bass), sprinkled with sea salt and filleted tableside -- though cruelly, they draw a line at loading your mouth and manipulating your jaw for you. Boozewise, there's an extensive wine list (Tommasi Amarone, Cakebread Chard, Silverado Cab...), bottled beers including Itals Peroni and Moretti, and society cocktails from a white peach puree Bellini to the tequila-fueled Sunflower Cosmo -- to clear up doubts about your manhood, just say "It's not a Cosmo, it's a Sunflower".
Mere blocks from their '90s location, the new spot's gunning for the same pre-theater market, offering a $35 prix fixe from 5-6:30 Sun-Fri -- which you still can't afford, because you've blown all your cultured global capital on black.