Rittenhouse bistro offers a wide style of plates - from ceviches and tartares to grilled or roasted fish and poultry - his whole-wheat fettuccine with spring pesto and lemon achieves pasta perfection.
Slightly curled ribbons of pasta are the definition of al dente, dotted with small brown speckles from the wheatberries that provide extra flavor without detracting from the silky texture. All of this is tossed with a pesto that does not overwhelm with garlic, but instead relies on crisp asparagus and snap pea slivers for a taste that might be best described as fresh and “green.” Lemon zest takes the place of grated Parmesan as the topper, making the dish appropriate for warm evenings when you don’t want to feel overwhelmed with richness.
It’s also somewhat warm at the restaurant's chef’s counter, six seats along the semi-open line in the downstairs dining room. Portable air-conditioners should help cool things down, however, and if you’re interested in professional cooking, the view of the action is worth it. In a space no larger than a modest walk-in closet, Vernick and his crew seamlessly operate what seems like a surplus of tools, from old-fashioned grills and flat-tops to electronically controlled convection and wood-fired ovens. Alternately, take a seat upstairs beside floor-to-ceiling windows, and enjoy your fresh pasta while coolly contemplating the hot city street below.