May 1, 2015

A First Look at Tria Fitler Square

The Fitler Square neighborhood shed a quick tear last year upon learning that our beloved Dmitri's was leaving the corner of 23rd & Pine. We weren't regulars but that place sure was popular and an anchor of the hyper-local culture.

In a blog post, Bradd and I offered up eight restaurants that should replace Dmitri's - everything from a re-emergence of our favorite Koo Zee Doo to a Philly outpost of Zeppoli - but we didn't expect Tria to jump on the chance to open yet another wine bar. With two other Tria locations already close by, admittedly we were a little disappointed in the news. However... after giving it a first try we have to say we're excited to go back.

What's most appealing about Tria Fitler Square is the sidewalk seating and extra windows along 23rd Street, opening up the restaurant to great natural light, airflow and a view of its lovely namesake Fitler Square. What's going to be frustrating are the crowds. A no reservation policy = wait lists, especially this first summer. Go early or be prepared to wait, even for a bar seat. It was nice to see the hostess willing to track down people waiting across the street in the park.

The new Tria offers a similar wine, beer, cheese and snacks menu to its sister bars, including some recognizable bruschettas. You can't go wrong with any of the bruschetta; our go-to is the comforting pistachio-herbed ricotta with lavender honey ($4½ for two pieces). As for the cheese menu, go with whatever jumps out at you, or ask the knowledgeable staff for recommendations.

Pistachio-herbed ricotta with lavender honey on toast
Montealva Curado, a goat's milk cheese from Spain

What's different at Tria Fitler Square are the 'medium plates." Too cool to be called entrees yet appropriately named for their portion size, the two we had were pretty darn delicious.

Grilled octopus with orzo salad, golden raisins, chili and citrus-mint yogurt ($18) is Tria's homage to the crowd favorite dish at Dmiti's. It's a perfect, lighter plate for summer, drawing us both to pick at every last nibble so none of the flavors would go to waste. Hand-rolled ricotta cavatelli with asparagus and Castelvetrano olives in a hazelnut brown butter ($14) could have used slightly more punch, maybe even just more salt, but was still a really pleasant way to round out our meal.

Grilled octopus over orzo salad and citrus-mint yogurt
Hand-rolled ricotta cavatelli

With some time off this spring/summer to raise a newborn (yikes), I'm hoping to roll the stroller right up to an outside table at happy hour. Contrary to our initial hesitations, Tria Fitler Square will be a nice spot to relax with a glass of wine, grab a good quality bite and enjoy the scene.

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