Many restaurants have excellent food. Some even have good service. Monsu is fortunate to have both! Located on the corner of 9th& Christian in Philadelphia (in the heart of the Italian Market), this restaurant is a little gem. Those who have lived in Philadelphia and spent any time in the Italian Market area will probably remember another little gem of a restaurant that previously occupied the same spot, Butcher Café. Nice to see the tradition of petit Italian BYOBs thrive on the corner of 9th & Christian.
Monsu is a great place to go if you have a large party. We had a party of 10 and with a reservation they had no problem accommodating our group. It also appears to be a nice spot for more intimate parties as there were tables of two and four the night we were there. The owner of Monsu is chef Peter McAndrews who has opened other successful restaurants in Philly: Modo Mio, Paesano and Popolino. They do a $40 prix fix menu where you get to choose a dish from each of the four sections: Antipasti, Prima Piatti (pasta dishes), Secondi (the main course) and Dessert. By the way it’s cash only.
I started with the Antipasti called Ballissimo, which was pork belly done to a nice crisp sautéed in a tomato marmalatta (marmalade/jam) topped with chopped green onion. Delicious! Made me thank God I’m not vegetarian. Next, the Prima Piatti. I chose the gnocchi which were feathery, light, puffy ricotta dumplings (not in the least over done) tossed in sweet crab meat (real crab, not that artificial stuff from God knows where), pistachio and lemon tomato cream. If this doesn’t make your mouth water, it should. This was pure heaven and it didn’t hit your stomach like a bowling ball. For the main course, I chose what they called the “B’Stilla” which was duck, mushrooms and apricots stuffed in crispy phyllo. It was delicate and sweet and came with endive salad tossed in red wine mustard dressing. Absolutely supurb!! The tartness of the dressing really complimented the sweet savoriness of the stuffed phyllo. For dessert, we decided to order one of each offering and pass them around. Honestly, I don’t remember what they were because, by this point, we were all stuffed to the gills and feeling pretty good. When ten close friends get together for an evening out at a BYOB the scene could easily be mistaken for a Bacchanalian festival!
Speaking for myself, and I feel safe in the assumption that everyone I dined with agrees, this is a lovely little Christian Street gem that should be shared with foodies from all neighborhoods.