The Other Critics

Ring-a-Ding-Ding: Alla Spina Gets Three Bells; Shiao Lan Kung Is ‘Charmingly No-Frills’

• In spite of a “few lingering flaws,” and the fact that it’s a “not for everyone” restaurant, Craig LaBan gives Marc Vetri’s Alla Spina three solid bells for its “extraordinary drink program and serious whole animal cookery” that “promises to push our dining scene forward, one pig part at a time.” “Dangerously good house-made pretzel balls,” “what may be one of the best new fried chickens in the city,” and the “city’s most uniquely focused and best-curated beer collections” won him over. What didn’t were the pasta dishes, which were “tasty enough, but hardly a reason to come.” [Inquirer]

• Adam Erace checks out the “charmingly no-frills” Shiao Lan Kung in Chinatown for the salt-baked shrimp, and discovers more dishes worth returning for. The hot and sour soup, he writes, delivers an “unapologetic, lip-puckering tang, followed by a spiciness that lingered on the tongue.” Beef lo mein was “slightly greasy and heavy on the sesame,” while the kung pao chicken came with “more nutty toasted peanuts than the Skippy factory” and meat that was “firm, rubbery and overcooked.” [Courier-Post]

• At Urban Enoteca, which just opened at the Latham Hotel, Phyllis Stein-Novack opines that her Portofino fish sandwich “could have been a bit more crispy.” Sister Sandy tore into her grilled veggie panini with “gusto.” Back again for dinner, P.S.N. where a bistecca steak salad was “dreadful, overdressed and inedible” with soggy “bagged mesclun.” Prosciutto-crusted white prawns “were flavorful,” but missing an as-advertised oregano salad. Maine lobster with shrimp “was not very good,” with its “wrinkled” peas and “oily broken sauce that separated as soon as [she] forked some shellfish.” AS you can probably guess, the entire experience summoned just on tip of her toque. [South Philly Review]

Ring-a-Ding-Ding: Alla Spina Gets Three Bells; Shiao Lan Kung Is