Tria Cafe is one of a few Philadelphia restaurants that were already ahead of the curve just as Philadelphia started developing its solid reputation as a nationally-recognized restaurant town. I’m happy to report that the chic, decade-old European-style cafe, located at 123 S. 18th Street, has not only stood the test of time, but continues to thrive and charm patrons at its Rittenhouse Square location.
Revered as a wine, beer, and artisanal cheese concept, Tria’s affordable small plate approach in the trendy neighborhood is likely why it has endured. It doesn’t try to be anything else and focuses on what it does best: reasonably-priced small bites with an outstanding selection of wines by the glass and fine craft beer by the pint or can.
We were severely overdue for a wine-venture in the city so a visit to Tria Cafe in Rittenhouse immediately sprang to mind. It is one of the most perfect city spots where you can watch the hustle & bustle of the world go by, but you’re still comfortably removed from it. Lively, yet comfy at the same time. It’s tight quarters for sure; you may have to wait especially on a busy night. Once seated, the outside world melts away, and you’re transported to a stylish bistro in France somewhere.
Live to Wine, Wine to Live? If you live by this mantra like we do, Tria is likely already a name quick to your lips when asked “Where to drink wine in Philadelphia?”
Forever on a rosé kick, I gravitated towards the Gruet Sparkling Rosé Pinot Noir Brut from Albuquerque, NM. A great first-course wine; a perfectly crisp blend of sweet and dry. If you’re a lover of bubbly, this wine will be up your alley. My other half chose the Giacomo Fenocchi Barolo ’12 from Piedmont, Italy, also known as the ‘King of Italian Wines.’ An easier-drinking, bolder red without chewy tannins. Fine as a starter if you like bold reds, but would be great to accompany a rich meal, too.
Gotta have cheese with that wine, right? Tria Cafe isn’t merely a “wine bar” with a cheese board. Oh no. It’s a cheese bar, too. At any given time, it has a stunning selection of fine cheeses from Murray’s in New York City to chose from a la carte. Order 1, 2, or 5 cheeses if your heart desires. Order all 16 of them if you want, I won’t judge.
Hubby purposely selected the luscious Valdeon (blue cheese from Spain) because he is a huge fan of blue cheeses. Me, not so much, but from prior experience I recalled Valdeon being a less intense blue and one that I could tolerate. We asked our server Julia to suggest another cheese from their impressive cheese list to pair with the Valdeon and our wines. She chose the Mrs. Quicke’s Cheddar (distinctive aged cheddar from Devon, England). Such a wise choice, especially next to the Valdeon. So creamy with just a hint of sharpness and lovely crystallization. Fantastic pairing with our initial wines.
A natural pairing for wine and cheese, The Sliced Italian Meats fit the charcuterie bill nicely. Featuring generously-sliced imported prosciutto, Genoa salami, soppressata, and prosciutto cotto (cooked ham) with cornichons, grainy mustard, and pickled pepper oil, it is unquestionably the proper meat platter to serve with such exceptional cheese and superior wines.
Heaven on a plate! Wouldn’t you agree?
This is year of the pate for us. I don’t recall ever eating it as much as we have this year and there’s no turning back. We’re INTO it. So we had to try the Chicken Liver Mousse with Shallot Marmalade, Grapes and Whole Grain Mustard. If you’re not sure or the thought of “liver mousse” unnerves you, don’t be afraid. It’s like buttah, baby! And Tria is doing it just right. The grapes were the perfect accompaniment, adding a welcome sweetness to the mousse. So, so luxurious!
The cheeses, meats, and chicken liver mousse (plus all the bread we had with them) would have been enough to satisfy us, but we were so curious about another item on the menu and had to check it out. The Testaroli Pasta with Basil Pesto, Spicy Sausage and Parmigiano-Reggiano, was surprisingly well-orchestrated and oh so comforting. The homemade rustic pasta was perfectly toothsome, with a little bite. The pesto and sausage were so perfectly married together underneath all of that grated parm-reggiano. A slam dunk small plate that packs a serious flavor punch – a must try! Absolutely sublime with any wine on the menu.
Hubby enjoyed a second glass of red – a vibrant, Earthy Trefethen “Double T” Cabernet Blend ’13.
I couldn’t leave without trying something from dessert menu. The Warm Apple Bread Pudding with Apple Cider Sauce, Spiced Pumpkin Seeds and Sweet Cream hit the proverbial spot. I loved how the pudding was closer to a custard than big chunky pieces of bread. I wanted to drink that apple cider sauce! An impeccable sweet ending to a spectacular wine rendezvous. Next time, we’ll have to sample some beers & sandwiches. 🙂
Tria Cafe offers a lot of luxury for a modest investment. Here’s to (at least) 10 more sumptuous years!
123 S. 18th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
*Special thanks to Profile PR for arranging our visit. Our opinions are our own.