Our Family Tree Is Growing: Vetri + Terrain
As spring arrives at the Garden Café, we're celebrating a new partnership with the Vetri Family of restaurants! Our neighbor and longtime friend, the Vetri Family was founded by acclaimed Chef Marc Vetri. After honing his cooking skills in Italy, Marc returned to Philadelphia and opened his critically-acclaimed, eponymous restaurant in 1998. Since then, the group has expanded to include several more eateries, along with the Vetri Community Partnership. The James Beard nominee's restaurants are favorites for Philadelphians, whether we're grabbing a slice at Pizzeria Vetri or indulging in handmade pasta at Osteria. Now, we’re thrilled to welcome Marc and his team at the Garden Café. Recently, we caught up with Chef himself to see what’s in store for spring and beyond, including a dinner we can’t wait to attend at Styer’s!
terrain: We’re so excited to welcome the Vetri Family to terrain this spring! What were some of your first impressions of the Garden Café? What changes do you envision?
Marc: Change can feel challenging, so first and foremost we’ll be taking it slow. At the same time, it’s important to always be open to learning. I learn new things every day! We want to make changes not because something isn’t right, but because we do things a little differently at Vetri. Our biggest goal is to make sure all of the restaurants in the Vetri Family, including terrain’s cafés, share a vision and feel cohesive.
I love the atmosphere of the Garden Café, so many of our biggest initiatives will actually be behind-the-scenes. We’re planning some kitchen upgrades that everyone on the staff is really excited about. Since the café and terrain store are so closely connected, we’re also really enthusiastic about growing the relationship between restaurant and retail.
terrain: What are you most looking forward to about this new partnership?
Marc: One thing we’re really looking forward to is collaborating with terrain on weddings and events. Right now, the terrain events team and our chefs are working together on lots of options for wedding menus. At Vetri, we offer something that’s not your typical wedding food; we want wedding guests at a terrain event to say, “This is Vetri food.” Events are a great space for collaboration because terrain brings an expertise and creativity in design and aesthetics that we haven’t offered before in a restaurant setting. The event spaces have an awesome look, and we want the food to mirror all the beautiful elements, like the historic buildings and floral designs. The senses work together, so food always tastes just a little bit better when you have something beautiful to look at!
terrain: In April, you’ll be joining us at Styer’s Garden Café to prepare Spaghetti with Lobster—one of your most well-known dishes. Can you share some background on the recipe?
Marc: It’s fair to say that’s the recipe that really launched me. When I opened Vetri, we had an a la carte menu and we offered Spaghetti with Lobster in the beginning, but it was too expensive and no one ever ordered it. So, we tried featuring it as a special instead, and it became a bestseller. We'd order 80 lobsters for a single weekend in a 30-seat restaurant! There was barely room to keep them in the kitchen! We kept the dish on the menu for two years at Vetri, then retired it, because it’s very labor intensive to prepare. We brought it back for a while at Osteria, and now I’ll be making it at terrain on April 7, when it will be a special during dinner that night.
terrain: Can you tell us a bit about the dish itself?
Marc: Overall the dish is simple, but it’s very fresh and showcases some interesting techniques. We start by searing the lobster with brandy and red pepper flakes for spice. We add lobster stock and tomato sauce, then toss the meat with the spaghetti and put it all back into the shell before serving. Everyone loves lobster, and it has a hint of spice that’s similar to fra diablo. The dinner is going to be a blast, I’m looking forward to it!
Join Chef Marc Vetri on April 7 for Spaghetti & Lobster, and stop by the Pizzeria Vetri Truck at our Dig into Spring Festival on April 23. Can’t make it to dinner? Find the recipe in Il Viaggio di Vetri.
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Change can be scary but I love the menu and style of Styler's. It's a fun dining experience and the food has always been great. I hope the unique nature of the restaurant does not become a cookie cutter corporate entity.
Very excited about this change. Sorry to snark, but the best things about the café at Terrain were the greenhouse setting and the flower pot bread; the rest of the menu did not live up to expectations. Food can be "natural" and still have flavor! (and salt) Looking forward to trying again with the Vetri influence.