2/28/2012 04:18:00 PM

Inside Alla Spina, Marc Vetri's Italian Beer Bar

The impetus behind super-chef Marc Vetri's latest, Alla Spina, is wholly unassuming: beer. The name of the North Broad Italian brew-focused restaurant translates as “on tap,” and the impressive beer list more than delivers on that front. Twenty taps pour a selection from both Italian and local purveyors ($4.50-$10), and there are also 50-plus bottles, including several rare and one-off European crafts.

The menu is separated into sections dubbed sfizi (cravings), fritti (fried), salumi, panini and more. Pig features prominently, offered as fried pigs tails agrodolce, a mortadella hot dog and a pig pot pie. “For a menu this heavy on pork and fried stuff, many dishes are actually pretty light,” notes managing partner Jeff Benjamin. “Order a plate and a glass of beer and you’re set.”

Elsewhere there's razor clames piastra (a la plancha) with salsa verde as well as fried snails with a garlicky housemade tartar sauce. A chalkboard touts daily raw bar and crudo specials, and all the pasta dishes are al forno (baked in the oven). Only three entree-sized options are available (including a crispy, maple-glazed fried chicken), and they are meant for sharing. At Benjamin’s request, poutine made it on the final menu, an addictive rendition with mozzarella curds and guinea hen Bolognese. Most of the menu is $16 and under.

The space - a block south of Osteria on Mt. Vernon, just off North Broad - is striking, with windowed garage doors letting in plenty of light, table and booth seating, and a dining counter along the semi-open kitchen. Commissioned graffiti art covers almost every wall, from the face peering down on the armchair lounge to the bright pig that beckons the way up to the private dining table, perched above the walk-in with a view of the entire restaurant. There's also a large three-sided bar, which in addition to brew, serves three wines on tap, classic Italian cocktails such as the negroni and beer cocktails like the quattro pazzo, a riff on Four Loko that sees Peroni mixed with Prosecco, aperol and OJ ($9-$11).

Check out a slideshow below:


  1. Can't wait for this! It's exciting that so many great restaurants are coming to North Philly. It used to be no man's land up there. Osteria is wonderful, too.

  2. Vetri is a genius! This will be as great as his others.