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When Black America isn’t churning out ancestral, cultural or ethnic foods, certain cuisines from other cultures are very likely to find their way onto our plates. Italian cuisine is definitely one of them. All Black families have aunties or mothers making a big pot of “Black People Spaghetti” (y’all know exactly what that means), complete with garlic bread and maybe a tossed salad or corn on the side. Of course, alfredo pasta with shrimp, chicken or salmon kicked up a soulful notch with jerk seasoning or pepper can be found at just about every Black owned restaurant.
During our recent tour of Philadelphia’s Black Food scene, Hungry Black Man followers recommended we visit what turned out to be an authentic and wildly delicious Italian space curated by the hands Chef Daniel Lee, one of the city’s most talented young chefs. The food writers got it disrespectfully wrong by comparing Farina’s Pasta and Noodle to Chipotle; especially since Lee is a graduate from Drexel University in Culinary Arts who makes every single pasta, sauce, and protein from scratch. That’s a far cry from freaking Chipotle!
Chef Lee’s pasta options include Bucatini-Spaghetti, Pappardelle (Extra Wide Fettuccine), and Rigatoni (Large Penne Pasta). The gnocchi was made from ricotta cheese, and the way my lactose is set up, I missed out on that!
My first order was the South Philly Alfredo. This pasta was outstanding! The fusion sauce hit all the flavor profiles of a classic Alfredo with notes of cream, butter, Parmesan cheese, pepper, but then veers to a welcomed bacon flavor without the smokiness due to the chef’s incorporation of pancetta. A perfect selection for a first timer, it really sets the tone and expectation for each pasta to be its own star.
My second favorite was the Pistachio pesto with the Bucatini pasta. Everything about this dish was right. The Pistachio pesto was made using basil, spinach, and citrus with a beautiful balance and bright tang from the fresh herbs and what was very likely lemon (zest and/or fresh juice). Each component created a harmonious bite that revealed a fruity zing underscoring the olive oil. The cheese provided the welcomed rich umami flavor, pistachios gave it a slight earthiness that merged well with the spinach. My addition of chicken definitely added value to the already above average pasta.
Our final pasta selection was the Bolognese Pappardelle. This was a hard ranking because it could easily have been my favorite as well, but I needed way more sauce. I selected the Pappardelle pasta and the delicious chicken meatballs, and the pasta was simply delectable. The Bolognese sauce was meaty with an unexpectedly delicate flavor. It was aromatic, but not as creamy as some of my other positive experiences with this sauce. I liked that the chef is using a quality Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The Bolognese entree could also be a contender for a first timer looking for the most quintessential Italian American cuisine. The Focaccia is oven-baked and similar in style and texture to pizza crust but more porous. It’s especially great if you get extra sauce.
My overall rating of Farina is a 5 out of 5. With its homemade pasta and sauces along with freshly baked bread, you can’t go wrong. They’re located at 132 S. 17th Street, Philadelphia. Contact them at (267) 930-3928 or [email protected].
You complained about a NON cream sauce being not creamy enough. Should you be criticizing food??
It’s not about a non cream sauce. Mac and cheese is not a block.
Great stuff. Congrats!
And note: We Italian-Americans welcome talented chefs of all backgrounds to explore and enhance and benefit from the cuisine of our ancestors. We would never (I mean this sincerely) accuse them of cultural misappropriation. We are instead flattered and honored by their cultural appreciation.