Monday, October 22, 2012

Slobblog: Monsu - Always Hungry in Philadelphia

The proprietor of our limoncello wasn't the only guy going through changes.

It's been a while for the Slobfest gang getting back together. It's been a month, felt like 4 months, and with all the changes going on with the gang might as well have been 3 years.

There's been former roommates who have new roommates, new pet owners, future fathers, somewhat unexpectedly continued relationships, and even a bottle of Danny DeVito limoncello who just went through a big change himself.

Yes, as the Slobs gathered at Monsu in Queen Village, there were a lot of changes to catch up on. And the tiny Italian eatery served as a great spot to break bread and talk about how things are going.

Monsu is a BYO right near the Italian market serves an ever changing array of Southern Italian delicacies. Most of the food isn't just pasta sauce and some meatballs, but the food expertly highlights the signature tastes of Sicily with rich spices, salt, and nuts to bring a cuisine that is unique to the Philadelphia area.

Antipasti and calimari apps.
The menu changes so often that the menu on the website is utterly useless. However, by the looks of things the website hasn't been updated in quite some time. Don't let the garish design and complete lack of a modern website turn you away. This is only a faint attempt to dissuade some from stumbling across the neighborhood gem.

We found ourselves in the back corner booth. Two Slobs were not able to attend, which while they were missed, probably worked out space wise as there was no way we'd be fitting two more people in the back booth. The cramped arrangements didn't seem to hamper the evening, and it might have added a bit to the family type feeling you can only get at a small place like Monsu.

As we found ourselves isolated, it was no concern of ours how loud and drunk we got. Then again, it hardly ever is, but at least by the time we've barely taken a sip of red wine the f-bombs were flying and fellow diners wouldn't have their experience at Monsu ruined by us.

The Slobs came to battle with 3 bottles of red wine, a 12 pack of Stella Artois, and a bottle of Danny DeVito's limoncello. We were prepared to get our share of food at Monsu, but what to order? Turns out, that question was simpler to answer than we expected. Monsu, like owner/chef Peter McAndrews' heralded Modo Mio, offers a turista menu. For the price of $40 you can select one dish from each section of the menu along with dessert. Done deal, except for one Slob who was perturbed by the server's disclosure that these courses in the turista may be a tad smaller than the actual entrees, so he went off the turista and ordered his own food at the higher price. Well, as you can see from the picture below, the difference probably wasn't anything to be concerned about.

Factor in the non-turista dish is further away, the difference is minimal.

The Slobs were happy to catch up and dig into some good food. As the appetizers came out, it was clear that the simple, but well executed food was something that everyone could enjoy. The updated menu (whenever it was updated) all lent themselves very well to the changing seasons.

For me, the clear winner is the gnocchi. Monsu has the best gnocchi I've ever had, and it's always an experience diving into the pillowy pasta.

While the food was meant for one, we had no problem sharing food with each other to sample everything from the snails to the pasta.

Spice rubbed rib eye.

Most seemed to be enjoying their meals, but with Italian food the difficulty is truly being able to separate yourself. Monsu's take is an interesting one, and it is some of the better Italian food I've had, however, with the highs there were some fair-to-middling dishes that pushed our way through the turista. There's no wow factor that you might get from creative and unique dishes at a place like Chifa or a truly elite Italian spot, Osteria.

This is not meant to be an attack on the BYO, but rather a fact of the matter regarding the difficulty at executing this food at a high, high level.

By the next Slobfest, there could be a change in the President of the United States. A new candidate could take office, or the current president will have a second term, after winning his first election on the idea of change.

The concept of things in continual change isn't new. Some think you can never step in the same river twice, but with all of these important and fun changes taking place over the past couple of months for us Slobs, it can be sure only better things are yet to come. One thing we do know is we'll be gathering and stuffing our faces for our love of food and drink.

Tip included. Easy math for some drunk Slobs.
-Slobs Out.

901 South Christian Street
Philadelphia, PA

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