So much to tell you this week: Craig truly likes Marc Vetri’s pizza, Jenn finds a cheesesteak martini in Montco, I’ll tell you about a restaurant specializing in sushi and pizza, the Eagles have landed in the booze business, and although late-night eating and drinking in town is popular again, there seems to be trouble brewing in the craft-beer world. We’re also excited for Thursday’s debut of the 2023 Inquirer Dining Guide. It will be available online at Inquirer.com and included in print with home-delivered and newsstand copies; we’ll have limited copies for sale at Inquirer.com/store.
Read on for much more. — Mike Klein
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We are so down with Marc Vetri’s new Pizzeria Salvy
Marc Vetri is back in the pizza game in an out-of-the-way, subterranean spot beneath the Comcast Technology Center, and critic Craig LaBan enjoys it. “Is this the single most obscure restaurant location worth paying attention to in Center City? Yes — especially if pizza is your passion” goes his review of Pizzeria Salvy.
Philly’s pizza boom is the topic of one of Craig’s articles in the Dining Guide, by the way. He found six of the most exciting pies around.
Our recent pizza coverage:
Drinks: Upheaval in craft beer; how about some mead?
Philly’s craft-beer scene is taking hits. Even as breweries plan openings, others are closing down as the industry grapples with an oversaturated market and changing consumer tastes, Jenn Ladd reports. As one former brewery owner told her: “This is going to be a bloodbath of breweries.”
Mead, that dry, honeyed spirit seldom found outside of a Renaissance festival, is the main attraction at The Keep Easy, a cozy cocktail bar down an alley in Jenkintown. Co-owner Mike O’Donnell told Jenn that they decided to create mead, opposed to beer, because “not a lot of people know about this.”
The late-night scene is bouncing back in Philly
Philly’s nightlife is beginning to bounce back in a big way from the effects of the pandemic. Ariana Perez-Castells has the receipts: New data from the financial-service platform Square shows that 30% of spending at bars, cafés, and restaurants happens between 7 p.m. and 4 a.m. — a greater percentage than even 2019.
Speaking of nightlife, our Henry Savage has scared up:
🎭 The play’s the thing: See ‘Assassins’ and try an Old City restaurant
If food has you thinking about seeing a show this weekend, check out our latest “Two Critics, One Review” column. With support from Visit Philadelphia, “Two Critics, One Review” is The Inquirer’s way of giving you two takes on the same show, so you can make the best decision about whether you want to go. This time, politics reporter Julia Terruso and theater critic/dramaturge Alix Rosenfeld went to see Assassins at the Arden Theatre Co. and chatted about it afterward. (Not during the show. That would just be rude.)
😋 Need dinner ideas within an easy walk of the Arden in Old City? There’s Fork (elegance!) and Panorama (fantastic wines!) on the upper end of the spectrum, the durable La Famiglia and Spasso Italian Grill for even more Italian fare, the Latin-inspired Cuba Libre and Vista Peru, drinks and pub dishes at Fringe Bar, The Plough & the Stars, and Revolution House, and sushi at Tomo and Kisso (both BYOB), plus sushi and cocktails at Tuna Bar.
Want pizza and sushi? You can get both here.
You want pizza, they want sushi. Pizzeria Maki, new in Glen Mills, offers full menus of both, and though I was a skeptic coming in, you may agree that they do both quite well.
The Eagles have landed in the booze biz
The Eagles are celebrating their new/old kelly green uniforms with the introduction of Bird Gang Spirits. The new vodka and bourbon bottles hit the market this week in collaboration with BOTLD, a Pennsylvania distillery, with creatives by local marketing company WeHolden. It’s a first for the Eagles.
Your first look: High Street Philly
High Street Philly, opening Wednesday at Ninth and Chestnut Streets at the corner of the Franklin Residences, signals the resurfacing of Ellen Yin’s groundbreaking all-day cafe — this time with a bar featuring an all-American wine list. Yin and partners Roberto Sello and chef Eli Kulp opened the original High Street in 2013 next to Fork (later adding a now-closed location in Manhattan), but shut it down in 2020 when faced with a 50% rent increase. High Street migrated to the Franklin’s Ninth Street side as a bakery and grab-and-go shop. Now expanded into the adjacent space previously occupied by Sandler’s on 9th, High Street boasts a display pastry kitchen that will host classes. (That’s Ellen above, and below with head baker Delilah Pergola.) Chef Christina McKeough’s menu is anchored by locally sourced grains made into pizzas, pastas, and breads — “snacky, family-style, comforting plates” is how Yin describes it — and the veteran designer Meg Rodgers makes a statement by going understated.
High Street Philly, 101 S. Ninth St. Hours: Tuesday to Thursday 5-9 PM, Friday to Saturday 5-9:30 PM for the restaurant; Bakery/grab and go Monday to Friday 8AM-7:30PM; Saturday 8AM-7PM; and Sunday 9AM-1PM Reserve via Resy.
Philly chefs do takeovers at Broad Street Ministry’s kitchen
Once a month, a Philadelphia chef helps out at Broad Street Ministry’s kitchen to work with culinary director Kijuan Bolger. The result is a win for both the chefs (like Jezabel Careaga) and for the guests (who got to sample her empanadas).
Scoop: Try a cheesesteak martini
A cheesesteak martini? Jenn Ladd found one at Round House in Lansdale. It’s infused with two kinds of steak, sauteed onions, provolone, and Cooper Sharp cheese. Jenn notes that Torin Hofmann, the creator, is a Whiz wit this kind of bartending alchemy.
Philly is undergoing a boom in omakase, the fixed-menu sushi experiences that put guests in the chefs’ hands. Last week saw the debut of the syndicated Sushi Suite, a $185 extravaganza in the sultry former Omakase by Yanaga space on Frankford Avenue in Fishtown. And now this week — barely two blocks away, on Susquehanna Avenue just off Frankford — is upstart Yuhiro Sushi.
I stopped Monday for the soft opening; it’s BYOB now until the liquor license comes through, and hours are truncated but will expand to lunch. The 10-seat sushi bar, set up in the Spartan space next to a soon-to-open handroll-and-sake bar, is one of Philly’s more basic omakases. Chef Naohiro Yanagi, a native of Fujisawa with 20 years of NYC sushi work, oversees a nigiri experience for the low, low price of $68. “We want it to be affordable,” one of the managers told me. Tasty and fairly rapid-paced.
Shown above is salmon with tomato, one of 11 dishes served in less than 90 minutes. (Reserve via Tock.)
Yuhiro Sushi, 2146 E. Susquehanna Ave. Hours: 5-10 p.m. Thursday, Sunday, and Monday, 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Manayunk meets Rome at the smart, casual Mia Ragazza, which opened last week in the two-story Manayunk building previously occupied by Derek’s and Bernie’s. Management is no stranger to Main Street; it’s Sean Coyle, Brendan McGrew, Mike MacCrory, and Andy Pyfer of the Goat’s Beard down the street and in Wayne, while McGrew owned the late Bourbon Blue. Downstairs is a bar opening out to the street, plus table seating beneath murals in a rear dining room, while upstairs gives you a bright bar set beneath a glass roof.
Chef Felipe Calixto, who is Mexican-born and cooked Thai cuisine at Azie and Blue Elephant, rocks the Central Italian-inspired menu: oblong pizzas, pastas (including the 8-ounce, ricotta-topped meatball shown above and a decadent pappardelle with braised short rib), and house-made desserts. Vegetarian and gluten-free sections, too.
Mainly Italian wine list plus cocktails.
Mia Ragazza, 4411 Main St. Hours: 4-10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 4-9 p.m. Sunday. Weekend brunch will start in November.
The uCity Square Beer Garden debuts Thursday at uCity Square’s The Lawn at 37th and Filbert Streets. Operators MilkBoy Restaurant Group and Our People Entertainment will stock the bar with selections from Two Locals Brewing Company (due to open a brewpub across the street), Chill Moody’s nicethingsBEER, seasonal brews from Yards Brewing Company, and Love City Brewing. Food trucks and entertainment will be available.
“Caphe Robbers” is the first collaboration pop-up between Caphe Roasters and Two Robbers from Friday to Sunday at Two Robbers (1221 Frankford Ave.). Food will take inspiration from Caphe Roasters’ Vietnamese background and the Two Robbers founders’ roots in India, as well as the accompanying beverages (e.g. butter chicken bahn mi, salmon kha chaat, the nước cốt dừa espresso martini. That’s 4 p.m.-midnight Friday, noon to midnight Saturday, and noon-8 p.m. Sunday. First come, first served.
Blazerz Food Joint, a delivery-only kitchen opening on Oct. 16, will hand out comp menu samples daily at the PHS Pop-up Garden (1438 South St.). In keeping with the company’s spirit, handouts begin at 4:20 p.m. and run till 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and run from noon-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Menu includes cheeseburger eggrolls, vegan wings, pizzas, and something called a vegan mushroom cheesesteak Blazerottis, which is like a panzerotto.
Basic 4 Vegetarian Snack Bar was Reading Terminal Market’s first Black-owned business in 1981 when Alfoncie B. Austin started what you might call a “vegelution.” It closed in 2012, three years after Austin’s death. Her daughter Lisa Tynes, who was at her side most of the stand’s run, will tell the Basic 4 story at the American Vegan Center (17 N. Second St.) at 2 p.m. Sunday. The ticket ($10 for in-person, with student discounts available) gets you food samples. There’s also a $5 Zoom entry. Info is here.
Austin-style breakfast tacos now segue to lunch tacos, as South Philadelphia’s Taco Heart has extended its hours to 3 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Nano Wheedan’s menu, still based on fresh flour tortillas, now has 7 new Tex-Mex tacos, plus quesadillas and lunch platters with rice and beans.
Aramark and the Phillies rolled out a special burger for the wild-card series at Citizens Bank Park. What is it called?
A) The White Castle-anno
B) The SchwarBurger
C) The StrahmBurger
D) The Sir Anthony
Find out if you know the answer.
Ask Mike anything
When is Center City Soft Pretzels reopening?
Center City Soft Pretzels on Washington Avenue (not in Center City, incidentally) has been closed since a fire in September 2022. Owner Erika Tonelli Bonnett, who has been through multiple twists and turns between contractors and insurance companies, says the work is now 95% finished — though a bad compressor in one of the refrigerators just added $14,000 to the reopening budget. She still hopes to reopen this month.
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