Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Getting salted in Philadelphia

Last week, I went on a whirlwind down-and-back day trip to Philadelphia for a quick school visit at Wharton. (Yes, it is b-school application season, and this year my hat is in the ring...) After wandering around the campus, attending an information session, and meeting up with a friend who's a student there, I had about two hours before my train back to NYC. So what to do, what to do? Eat, of course!

First, dinner. Word on the street (Internet) was the Gia Pronto was a good place to get a salad. So with the help of a campus map and a decent sense of direction, I soon found myself at this typical take-out salad, sandwich, and soup joint on Spruce Street.

I went for a make-your-own salad, peering over the glass barrier to choose from the range of high-quality but expensive ingredients. Into my arugula base went organic beets, grilled portobellos, and capers for good measure. I asked for balsamic vinegar on the side, but I suspected I wouldn't need it due to the mushrooms' marinade and the capers' brine. And I was right, kinda.

I took my salad back to the Penn bookstore and dug in. It's a big portion, to be sure, and they give you a big ol' scoop of each of the ingredients. The problem with this salad was evident upon first bite: it was a complete and utter salt bomb. A huge scoop of capers made it salty, no doubt, but I had anticipated that; what I hadn't counted on was the fact that the mushrooms were also unbearably salty on their own. I pondered for a moment whether the salad was edible, and I decided that if I ate it quickly and tried not to focus on the salt, it was. So I ate it.


I was disappointed, though. The ingredients seemed well-prepared aside from that, and the greens were fresh. Why dump a ton of salt in your mushrooms, though, Gia? Why? If that hadn't been the case, even with the capers I think this would have been a good salad. It coulda been a contender...

Gia Pronto
3736 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA

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