The Other Critics

LaBan Calls Vernick Food & Drink ‘One of the Year’s Most Exciting New Restaurants’; La Terrazza Has Trouble Justifying the High Prices

• Following visits to Vernick Food & Drink, Inquirer critic Craig LaBan is “convinced” that the Rittenhouse newcomer is “one of the year’s most exciting new restaurants.” The much talked about toasts deliver a taste of Chef Vernick’s “appealingly straightforward aesthetic.” “Serious but approachable” dishes, like the tuna sashimi with a “tingly crunch of yuzu-pickled Asian pears, and a “perfectly steamed halibut,” served over a “forest-brown collage of wild mushrooms” show a “refined simplicity with just a few striking elements on a plate informed by worldly flavors and perfect technique.” Though “Vernick sets the bar so high,” it’s hard to ignore “hiccups” like “a bit too bouncy” blob of fresh mozzarella, and a whole roasted dorade that was “a bit dull.” Still, all told it merits a three-bell rating. [Inquirer]

• At Cherry Hill’s La Terrazza Adam Erace finds the “rich and dark and meaty” slow-braised lamb ragu the “top” topper of the restaurant’s potato-and-ricotta gnocchi. The “thick, juicy slices of ruby-red Jersey tomatoes” that come with the “milky” housemade mozzarella shows that “Terrazza took advantage of the season.” A Francese-style tilapia “resonated beneath its dressing of lemon-white wine sauce,” and the fish itself “flaked apart in big white hunks, mild and tender.” But it did not “justify a $28 price tag.” [Courier-Post]

• Two Eat Philly takes on Pennsport’s The Industry where they find “super crispy” panko crust on the pork nuggets “offsets any potential Jello-like textures” from the fried chunks’ testa innards. The chili pepper aioli was “a great flavor match.” The “super savory” lamb neck gravy was “a really well-balanced, well-executed, and interesting dish,” while the General Tso’s chicken wings were short on spiciness and “too one-note… to really love.” [Two Eat Philly]

LaBan Calls Vernick Food & Drink ‘One of the Year’s Most Exciting