Prior to 1999, the 100 block of South 13th Street was one of the shabbiest strips in Center City Philadelphia. Thanks to redevelopment efforts by such people as Tony Goldman (his company redeveloped South Beach in Miami and SOHO in NYC), Stephen Starr, the Raitanos (owners of Capogiro) Marcie Tunney, and Valerie Safran (Tunney and Safran operate a combination of 6 restaurants and retail businesses), the block has been completely transformed, and is now one of my favorite dining destinations. We at “It’s just the booze dancing…” like it so much that we’ve renamed the corner of 13th and Sansom Street to “13th and Capogiro” (Limpd gets full credit for this), in honor of the best gelato outside of Italy. Directly across the street from Capogiro, on the first floor of a building that once housed a check cashing business is a pizzeria/wine bar called Zavino (Za as in pizzZa + vino?). Since I owed a co-worker that will be going to Italy on vacation next week a lunch, I decided that a Zavino/Capogiro lunch would be a perfect debt repayment and intro to dining “Italian style”.
The Zavino food menu consists of appetizers, cheeses, cured meats, and pizza. They also have a full bar that serves wine by the glass, beer, and cocktails.
We ordered the Mixed Green salad and the “Toy Box” Tomato for our appetizers, the Margherita and Sausage pizzas for our entrees, and a Hoegaarden and a Victory Hop Devil IPA for our drinks. Since my co-worker is tomato and eggplant averse, the “Toy Box” Tomato appetizer was all mine! It consisted of roasted eggplant slices, baby heirloom tomatoes, basil leaves and grated cheese, with a layer of basil pesto spread across the bottom of the bowl. The eggplant was tender, the tomatoes were firm and juicy, and the pesto pulled all of the flavors together to create a very delicious dish. My only complaint… they didn’t give me any bread to scoop up the remaining pesto! Pull that crap in the Old Neighborhood, and you may wind up like Luca Brasi. Know what I’m sayin?
Once we polished off our appetizers, our pizzas were delivered within seconds of being pulled from the oven (I know this because the oven was right behind me). Philadelphia doesn’t have a good reputation when it comes to pizza. Thanks to Zavino and several other restaurants that have opened in the past few years (Osteria and Pizzeria Stella specifically), that’s all about to change. Both pizzas at Zavino were fantastic! A crisp yet chewy crust, married to a tangy tomato sauce, and topped with fresh mozzarella. That’s what pizza is all about! Simple, elegant, and delicious.
Once we were done with our food and drinks at Zavino, we strolled across the street to Capogiro for some gelato. I had the Pineapple Mint gelato and the Thai Coconut Milk gelato, while my co-worker had the Chocolate Banana gelato and the Lemon sorbetto. As usual, Capogiro did not disappoint. Limpd was the only person that was disappointed, but that’s only because he wasn’t there to join in the fun (he literally groaned when I told him that I was there today).
To say that I enjoyed today’s lunch would be an understatement. I loved everything about Zavino. Efficient service, good food, and semi-affordable prices make for a restaurant that I will definitely visit again. I give Zavino a B+. As far as Capogiro, their gelato gets an A+, and they should be on everyone’s hit list whenever they’re in the vicinity of “13th & Capogiro”.
Categories: Food Review