Aldine: Taking Dining Out to the Next Level

Aug 20, 2015

When I am asked to name my favorite restaurants, I don’t start thinking about food. I start thinking about the experience of dining out; the mix of food, drink, atmosphere, and people and how the right blend creates the best restaurants. Aldine combines these elements wonderfully and in doing so has found its way into my top ten list.

A subtle sidewalk sign on the south side of Chestnut just west of 19th Street signifies your arrival at George Sabatino’s newest venture. Entering the dining room requires an ascent up a warm wood-paneled staircase that quickly releases all sense of the street scene below. At the top of the stairs you are likely to find Jennifer Sabatino, who has partnered with husband to create Aldine through leading the interior design effort and being the unassuming, elegant and gracious hostess that sets the tone for the next couple of hours of your evening. Dinner at 8:00 on a summer evening means entering a subtly lit space that draws on natural and electric light. Aldine is a 2nd story dining room, with a long wall of windows looking into large leafy trees along 19th Street and views of historic brick and stone buildings on Chestnut with a pleasant sight line above their first floor retail spaces. The interior is carried by a deep, dark, plum painted tin ceiling; black stained original wooden floors and simple, comfortable wood tables and chairs. Unassuming, elegant, graceful. Just like the owner and just like the menu.

One of the things that made me immediately like this new favorite spot was the wonderful selection of wines. Their list offers several options for sparkling, white, blush and red, but not so many as to overwhelm. Modest in prices, it is a wine list designed to surprise as well as impress. (You know you are somewhere special when they have a good rose.) To begin to really know Aldine, begin with the small plates. Beautiful in presentation, light in approach, rich where you need it and a palate of fresh flavors that elevate each other. My only recommendation is to follow your instincts while remaining open to trying something outside your box. Nothing on Aldine’s evolving menu has disappointed, and I have come to rely that it never will. You can too. Order slowly and allow time to savor and relax. You will not be rushed out nor does Aldine have the chattering din that makes you want to. The staff is knowledgeable, they speak in their own words, listen to yours, and are attentive (at the right times.) The servers know the food is good, it can speak for itself, but they are happy to share their thoughts or a story if you show the interest.

The last time I was wowed by Sabatino’s work was the opening months of Stateside. Subsequent trips there left me missing those days. But now, with Aldine, the Sabatino’s are back, in force, and have taken their craft to the Next Level. In more ways than one.

Michael Garden

Michael Garden

Author

Michael’s real estate practice is focused on quality properties in established and developing neighborhoods that offer all the desirable amenities of urban living. Rittenhouse Square to Queen Village, Kensington to Passyunk, and great outlying communities such as Chestnut Hill and Spruce Hill are all within his domain.

Michael ventured into real estate in New York in the 1990’s developing residential and small business commercial properties as an investor, contractor, and end user. In 2005 he moved to Philadelphia and began working with individuals, couples, families, and investors to achieve their real estate goals. Since then, Michael has developed a comprehensive knowledge of the neighborhoods of Philadelphia, our changing market conditions, and how to position each deal. He has an inherent ability to understand his client’s motivation, tastes, and bottom line, making him in an invaluable asset to each transaction. Michael’s attention to detail and his sensitivity to the interests of all involved parties are redefining buyer’s and seller’s expectations, one client at a time.