Le Virtu's two-day feast

SOUTH PHILADELPHIA - December 12, 2012

Le Virtu, 1927. E. Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia, is built on painstakingly-authentic Abruzzese cuisine.

Abruzzo sits along the central part of Italy's west coast, taking advantage of land and sea, north and south. Some would tell you it's the best place to dine in the whole country because of the diversity of ingredients available.

Le Virtu chef Joe Cicala visits regularly to stay up-to-date on trends and ingredients. One of Abruzzo's beloved traditions is La Panarda.

There, it's a two-day feast featuring 100 dishes. Le Virtu will serve its own version of La Panarda Sunday afternoon...an eight-hour event offering "only" 40 dishes.

Cicala built a menu that rises and falls in sets of five dishes each...some stages richer than others.

It's designed so guests wll be able to enjoy all 40 of his creations over the course of the day. Reservations...just 30 at $200 each...sold out quickly.

The restaurant ordinarily seats more than that but Cicala capped the list at 30 people because he couldn't store food to feed more!

Tradition demands that La Panarda menus include a chicken-based soup, fava beans, pasta with a lamb-based sauce and a lamb stew.

Cicala is preparing those and dozens more. He has partnered with an Abruzzese winery to bring in several exclusive bottles just for the occasion.

The menu also includes dishes Cicala prepares night-in and night-out for his regular guests.

Le Virtu is at 1927 E. Passyunk Avenue, just east of Broad Street in South Philadelphia. It's open nightly for dinner.

For information or reservations, you may phone 215-271-5626, or access Le Virtu. The restaurant has a full bar, but on Tuesday nights only, guests may also bring their own wine.

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