Le Virtù has been on Foodable’s Top 25 Restaurants in Philadelphia list many times and it’s no secret why. Chef Joe Cicala has honed his skills with some of the greatest chefs in Italy and the U.S., including James Beard Award-winning Chefs Mark Ladner and Roberto Donna. He himself has been a James Beard Semi-finalist every year since 2012, hinting at the art created in his kitchen.
As host Paul Barron notes, “This restaurant is actually doing all handmade pasta, which is kind of a unique thing, but also very rare today, as we see more and more Italian restaurants that are not necessarily going that direction.”
The inspiration for Le Virtù (The Virtues) comes from Chef Cicala’s experiences all over Abruzzo, Italy. Every dish is inspired by Abruzzese culinary tradition, ingredients, or philosophy. Take for example, their housemade couscous.
“How we make it is traditional to how they make it in Casalbordino. [We] use a small thistle broom. We dip the broom in water, and then we shake it over the semolina and it creates these little drops, and those little drops become the couscous,” he said.
After spending a significant amount of time in Abruzzo, Italy, Chef Cicala developed an intimate knowledge of Abruzzo's "primary materials" and culinary artisans. He applies that experience to his selection of producers and purveyors surrounding Philadelphia like naturally raised pork from Berks County; lamb, chicken and rabbit from Lancaster County; and produce from rural New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
What he can’t find locally, Chef Cicala imports from Abruzzo. This includes ingredients like artisanal honey and cheeses, extra virgin olive oil, and even the flour used to make fresh pasta. Watch Le Virtù’s dedication to the culinary traditions and how those traditions contribute to one of the country’s most authentic Italian dining experiences.