9/26/2012 09:53:00 AM

Best Thing We Ate Last Night: Crab Risotto at McCrossen’s Tavern

The crab risotto at McCrossen’s Tavern may be the opposite of fast food, but it does have one thing in common - plenty of butter in the mix means it’s definitely not for dieters. If you’re looking for rich, flavorful, heart-warming food made with an expert touch, however, this dish is one to seek out. Wild trumpet mushrooms and huge chunks of crab are suspended in the creamy, whole kernal rice, flavor deepened with truffles and brightened with slivers of crispy asparagus on top ($14).

In the two years since Lacroix and Fountain alum Townsend Wentz was recruited to run the kitchen here, this small Fairmount standby has undergone a major shift. Where before the culinary excitement of the night might have been getting extra blue cheese dip with your wings, the menu is now packed with interesting options. During Sunday football games, for example, the crispy pigs tails often outsell those boring chicken bites.

In addition to other non-routine bar snacks like roasted bone marrow, boquerones and veal sweetbreads, Wentz partnered with longtime friend Rocco Rainone (now cheesemonger at Di Bruno Bros.) to curate a well-thought-out cheese and charcuterie program. A dozen meats and cheeses rotate monthly, and are featured in a monthly cheese-wine-food pairing dinner. Though the risotto was our favorite, the cheese plate was a close second, and at $40 per person, that four-course monthly meal is a near-steal. We’ll keep you posted the next time it comes around.

529 N. 20th St.; 215-854-0923


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