Seared polenta, pickled gold snow peas, farmer’s cheese, roasted onion at Musi BYOB.

Musi BYOB

The small space and tiny, open kitchen of Musi are no match for Chef Ari Miller’s colossal creativity.

Chef Ari Miller is serious.

He’s committed to his craft—a true artist who values the relationship between our food, it’s source, it’s purveyors, and where it lands. For those of us focused on our plates over all else, this is a gift.

Enter Musi BYOB, a gem of a restaurant, holding court on a quiet corner in Pennsport (the former Helm South). The small space and tiny, open kitchen are no match for the chef’s colossal creativity. Not to be lost in translation, this creativity permeates the restaurant via attentive servers who navigate the little dining room with deep insight into each dish served.

The Pasta Lab’s smoked corn rigatoni, duck and leek broth,
farmers cheese in herb oil, leeks, lime.

At Musi, don’t expect a designer dining room; what you’ll find is spare. Instead, stay focused on what you’re putting in your mouth, as the menu is diverse, with choices for every palate and dietary fantasy. Allow the chef to deliver his vision of small, playful plates or, for those who crave a little more control, go a la carte. A tasting menu can often seem overwhelming and indulgent, but at Musi, I’ve never felt overfed.

Purslane and bibb lettuce, caesar dressing, relevant ingredients, shaved beef heart, breadcrumbs.

Chef Ari’s time living in Israel informs many of his dishes, but while Mediterranean inspiration may rule (think olive oil), the menu is truly global (including Philly and it’s pretzel). Local, farmer-delivered vegetables stand front and center, treated with the attention and respect they deserve. On his menu, Ari loves to name the farmers, foragers, makers, and artisans who source Musi’s locally pastured meats (like PA veal), fish and seafood purveyors, spices, oils, and produce. Playfulness makes its way onto the menu, too. Descriptions of the dishes are often hilarious, like for the bibb lettuce and okra caesar-inspired salad: “The bibb is hydroponically grown, like designer weed!”

Tahina, za’atar, corn, zucchini costata romanesco, parsley, blueberry.

This chef is not afraid to play with his food nor to collaborate. Earlier this summer, I attended one of his serendipitous mash-ups: Musi + Gotham Grove, a boutique-style Korean food purveyor from Brooklyn. Think of that moment at a concert when the band unexpectedly brings another famous artist out on stage—the song is still recognizable and amazing, but with a little unique something extra thrown in. That evening, the seven-course menu included Brigantine Oyster Co. bivalves served simply with brown rice vinegar and cucumber juice, local scallops with perilla oil ice cream and shiso laminated pasta, and my personal favorite, duck fat potato dumplings rolled in black sesame with strawberry Gochujang ice cream and winter melon vinegar jellies.

Squash blossoms stuffed with strawberry and mozzarella, chocolate mint and black walnuts in olive oil.

Pack a bottle or two of your favorite vino and head to Musi for one of the more elevated dining experiences you’ve had in a minute. #phillyproud

Plates average $12-$18, $9 for desserts.

Musi BYOB
100 Morris Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
215.377.9466

Images: Musi BYOB

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