Le Virtu’s spacious outdoor patio, which faces East Passyunk Avenue and has been undergoing significant changes since mid-March, is just about ready to begin seating guests. Francis Cratil-Cretarola and Cathy Lee, the husband and wife team that owns the popular South Philly restaurant, sent word this afternoon that the changes included tearing out the grass, grading and leveling the the earth underneath, and paving it with ivory-hued stone. The perimeter has been lined with smaller landscaping stones and lush shrubbery, which for all intents and purposes should be blossoming in any minute. Towards the back, a wooden canopy was constructed, and strung with clinging vines, and attractive lighting. The canopy will one day soon cover a small counter where guests can sit and enjoy drinks, and serve as the location for Chef Joe Cicala’s forthcoming chef’s table dinners.
On Sunday, May 19, Cratil-Cretarola and Lee are hosting a party to christen the newly revamped space, and will serve Le Virtù soup, the restaurant’s namesake, and quintessential Abruzzese spring dish prepared with more than 40 ingredients. In addition to the soup, Cicala will serve grilled Arrosticini (lamb skewers), as well as grilled sausage and vegetables. Wines from the recently added tap wine system, and select local craft beers will also be served. The whole spread costs $45 per person.
Inside the restaurant, Cicala will simultaneously debut new dishes from his recently updated menu. New items include Burrata Pugliese con Aglio Orsino, artisanal Pugliese burrata cheese served with charred Green Meadow Farm ramps and mosto cotto; Maccheroni alla Chitarra con Aglio Orsino, “guitar”-cut maccheroni with Green Meadow Farm ramps and pecorino romano cheese; Tagliolini com Limone, Bottarga e Gamberetti, fine-cut pasta with lemon zest, bottarga and Gulf Coast shrimp; Dentice con Asparagi, red snapper with Green Meadow Farm white, green and purple asparagus ragu; Granchio dal Guscio Morbido, polenta-and-beer-battered soft shell crab with charred lemon and arugula salad; and the aforementioned Le Virtù soup.