Now is the perfect time to enjoy al fresco dining at Illuminaire. With a full back patio that features two fountains, a nice shade tree and plenty of umbrellas, you’ll feel cool (even if it’s a hundred degrees out). However by choosing to enjoy the climate-controlled interior dining room, you’ll be treated to a surprisingly rich decor full of deep colors and vivid paintings. Only two blocks from Eastern State Penitentiary and a few more from the Art Museum, it’s the perfect destination post-sightseeing.
Upon entering Illuminaire, you’ll be greeted by a friendly bar area and open kitchen where you can catch a preview of what’s cooking and take in the aroma of freshly baked garlic bread. Meals begin with rosemary parmesan foccacia fresh from the oven. The bread is light on seasoning and goes extremely well with the mild red pepper olive oil for dipping.
Light Italian fare is the emphasis of Illuminare. The menu features a full array of gourmet brick-oven pizzas, seafood entrees and pasta dishes. The roasted eggplant white pie ($12) is prepared with roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, grilled mushroom and sauteed garlic spinach served on a thin crispy crust. Another good pizza choice is the five-cheese pizza ($12). Many restaurants offer three or four cheeses, but how many go for five? This additional fifth cheese makes the pizza much better. With a sampling of fontina, gorgonzola, mozzarella, provolone and ricotta, the blend is outstanding with dollops of the soft and tangy Ricotta intermingled with the buttery mozzarella and complemented with basil and a light coating of sauce.
Side dishes should not take the sidelines here at Illuminare. The mixed mashed potatoes ($3) are a combination of baby reds and sweet potatoes that makes for a nice middle ground between flavors. If you are looking for something even more out of the ordinary, try the orange couscous ($3), a fresh take on an old classic. By infusing fresh citrus into the couscous, the traditionally bland food is given a real zing. The vegetarian hot antipasto ($9) is perfectly cooked and presented in a flavorful stack of grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers, artichoke, olives and provolone cheese surrounded by a sweet and garlicky marinara.
The waitstaff at Illuminaire is probably one of the best I have encountered; friendly and inviting they love to talk about what’s on the menu and will do everything they can to make your dining experience enjoyable.