Brigantessa opened in October at 1520 E. Passyunk Ave. Originally the restaurant was slated to be mostly about pizza before changing their direction to include a whole menu of Southern Italian cuisine.
The Inquirer’s Craig Laban paid Brigantessa a visit, and from the impressive 3 bell review, it seems as though this restaurant from the crew that brought you Le Virtu is worth a visit.
According to Laban, the pizza isn’t even the best thing about the restaurant:
But these pies alone are not the most compelling reason to visit Brigantessa. What most intrigues me is the rest of the rambling, delicious menu at this lively bi-level newcomer near the Singing Fountain on East Passyunk Avenue. It’s the second collaboration between Cicala and his studious co-owners, Cathy Lee and Francis Cratil Cretarola. And what they did together for authentic Abruzzese food at Le Virtù – translating its rustic spirit into something elegant and relevant – gains extra resonance when reprised for Brigantessa’s more southern focus. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies – Campania, Calabria, Basilicata and Sicily – was the prime source of immigrants who settled Italian-American enclaves like South Philly.
Instead of the pizza, Laban considers the pasta to be the most impressive of the menu items:
But Brigantessa’s pastas were the highlight. A squid-ink spaghetti was funky in a good way with fermented long hots and tender octopus. Porcini-filled chestnut ravioli in sage butter with Pink Lady apples were a winter wonder. The signature cappellaci dei briganti, pylon-shaped pastas meant to evoke the conical hats of the 19th-century Brigantaggio freedom fighters that inspired the restaurant’s name, were exceptional – each cone cradling shreds of soulful butcher’s ragù.
Laban ends his review by calling the restaurant “an essential new piece of the city’s rich Italian mosaic.” For an Italian-rich area like South Philly, Brigantessa sure seems to be a standout.
Click here to see Laban’s full review of Brigantessa.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out Brigantessa yet, here’s a look at our First Pics of the restaurant from October.