Havana Meets Philadelphia

Chef Douglas Rodriguez's Alma de Cuba

Chef Douglas Rodriguez, the father of Nuevo Latino cuisine, has just opened his latest restaurant, Alma de Cuba, in Philadelphia. Rodriguez's carefully crafted menu is designed with a nod toward Cuba, to be sure, "though the way we assemble the dishes is hardly traditional," explains Rodriguez, whose Manhattan successes include Pipa, Patria, and the much-revered Chicama (where Jose Garces, Alma's chef de cuisine, was trained). There's a first-floor lounge where The Rockwell Group—designers of Nobu in New York—installed whitewashed walls, a wrought-iron bar, and black-and-white images of modern-day Havana. Upstairs, there are Ultrasuede banquettes and a mezzanine. Best bets to date: cilantro-and-honey-glazed salmon, Chilean sea bass with black-trumpet truffle oil, crab empanadas, and spicy shrimp ceviche. The whole—and they do mean whole—red snapper is superb, grilled with chayote and served with calamari salad. $80-$100. 1623 Walnut Street, Philadelphia 19103; 215-988-1799.