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Modo Mio: A hidden gem in Northern Liberties

The term “hidden gem” describes perfectly a Mediterranean BYOB I recently visited in Northern Liberties. Located between Second and Front Streets on Girard Avenue, Modo Mio is unnoticeable except for the burgundy awning that adorns the corner window.

Once inside the restaurant, my party was greeted by the host and escorted to our table. The floor was bustling, yet the setting was intimate, as we squeezed between full tables on a busy Friday evening. I have been told that Modo Mio is typically booked each weeknight and, thankfully, we made reservations two weeks in advance.

As we took our seats, our host opened our bottles of wine, free of a corking fee, and chatted with us for a few minutes. We were soon brought a slice of warm, chewy, yet crusty, bread, which was flavored with what seemed like a hint of nutmeg. To accompany the bread, we were given a plate of goat cheese with extra virgin olive oil.

As we settled in with our wine and listened to the night’s specials, we were impressed with the selection of seasonal menu items. We each chose the fixed price Menu Turista option instead of ordering a la carte, to try a number of menu offerings. For the fixed price menu of $32, we were able to choose an antipasti, pasta, secondo, and dolce selection.

The Menu Turista option is the perfect way to sample a number of small plates at Modo Mio, especially since most of the Secondo items are in the range of $15-$18.

For the antipasti, we ordered the cotechino and the cozze, both of which were delicious. Cotechino was a layered course with sausage, balsamic poached egg, fried crema, pistachios and saba. Cozze was a plate of steamed mussels in a spicy herb sauce topped with a thick piece of toast.

Next, for the pasta course, we chose bucatini, thick spaghetti with pancetta, plum tomatoes, and red pepper, and tortellini with gorgonzola in a creamy pistachio. The pasta was tender, and the sauces complemented well.

After enjoying the pasta course, we received our second choices, which included porketta, sea bass and striped bass. The whole sea bass, poached and boned by the server, was light and flavorful. The striped bass was also enjoyable in a spicy caper sauce. I enjoyed the porketta, a roast suckling pig topped with fried drop noodles, most of all.

As we shared each dish, which was sized perfectly for tasting, we were beginning to feel full before choosing our dolce course yet. The desserts were petite and very flavorful. We chose tiramisu, pistachio crème custard and a chocolate pistachio layer cake. The layer cake was fantastic and each layer including white cake, pistachio crème and chocolate chips was discernable and rich.

After four courses and a few glasses of the wine, our server presented us each with a complimentary Sambuca shot to end our evening at Modo Mio. The liquor was rich and sweet, the perfect ending to our flavorful meal.

I highly recommend visiting Modo Mio for a special occasion, but be sure to call at least two weeks in advance to secure a reservation.

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