Philly Grub | Philadelphia & South Jersey's Food & Drink Blog
Philly Grub is a Philadelphia food news, reviews, and scene blog showcasing all that is good about eating and drinking in Philadelphia and South Jersey. This blog is authored by Marilyn Johnson. Philly Grub shares Philadelphia area restaurant news, events and occasionally some reviews.
Jersey Fresh tomatoes are a joy of the summer season. In fact, I don’t think I look forward to anything as much as I do tomato season. Jersey tomatoes are the absolute best. They truly do not get any better than they do right now!
Just tonight, I picked up a couple glorious beauties at my local year-round farmers market in Pennsauken. I believe they come from Buzby Farm in Woodstown, NJ. They’re so ripe and juicy — and sweet!
Of course, I made classic tomato sandwiches for dinner. Scrumptious! Sorry, no photos this time. But it went something like this: thick-sliced tomatoes placed on two pieces of Nature’s Own Multigrain Breadeach slathered with mayo, a slice of Craig’s Creamery sharp cheddar, salt, and pepper. Heaven!
Trust me, this will be the first of many tomato sandwiches this summer.
Jersey Girl Cooks Tomato Sandwich
My friend Lisa Grant over at Jersey Girl Cooks has opined on her love of the summer staple. Hers is even simpler than mine, though.
I love that American Sardine Bar in Point Breeze offers them as a “snack” on the menu right now. Perfection!
I have to admit before Rione opened, I don’t believe I had heard of “Roman-style” pizza, or pizza al taglio. Then again, I’m not a pizza aficionado. According to Wikipedia:
Pizza al taglio or pizza al trancio is a variety of pizza baked in large rectangular trays, and generally sold in rectangular or square slices by weight, with prices marked per kilogram or per 100 grams. This type of pizza was invented in Rome, Italy, and is common throughout Italy.
Since Rione opened over two years ago in the Rittenhouse Square area, it’s been a popular spot for authentic Roman-style pizza in Philadelphia. In addition to the shape, what sets it apart from other pizzas is the 72-hour proof time on the dough which results in a pillowy crust quite similar to focaccia bread.
Even as someone who doesn’t eat pizza often, I was still very curious to try it because food is an adventure! So, when we had out of town friends come to visit, they suggested we meet there. This was the time for me to get educated about this unique style of pizza.
Since pizza is not a favorite food (crazy, I know — but I have reasons), I went in with low expectations. I walked out with a new appreciation for the craft of this style of pizza-making. The quality of the ingredients, many locally sourced and others imported from Italy, truly makes the difference ensuring everything tastes ultra-fresh and flavorful.
Our party selected several slices so we could try a variety. My absolute favorite was the Parmigiana – made with a thin layer of sliced eggplant, a smidge of light tomato sauce, a sprinkling of parmesan, and a few pieces of fresh basil. Hubby enjoyed his slice of meatball pizza, not pictured.
While the toppings are creative and exciting, all of these pizzas will be delicious and worth trying thanks to that distinguishable, airy crust. I could eat just that!
Rione also offers a few salads and sandwiches which I did not try on this visit but would be fun to try for lunch sometime.
We got there close to 7pm on a Saturday night and there was only a handful of people in there. It was quiet, sans music playing, and our party having lots of laughs over a bottle of Pinot Noir we brought with us. It’s not a fancy spot (they gave us plastic cups to enjoy our wine) so it’s wayyy more casual than other sit-down restaurants, such as competitor Alice Pizza.
Both restaurants are owned by native Romans, with the latter also offering a larger menu of Italian specialties such as pasta dishes and cheese and charcuterie selections and a full bar.
Are you a fan of this style of pizza? What’s your fave? Let me know in the comments.
Chef Kristopher Serviss has transformed Taqueria Del Norte into Culture on the Circle at 2859 Holme Circle in the Far Northeast.
It will be a New American BYOB reminiscent of what Serviss was doing at the original Blue Duck in that very location before he left to work at Northeast Sandwich Co. in the Burholme section. Blue Duck eventually closed and then, wanting to do something different, he opened Taqueria Del Norte. But now the space is coming full circle, so to speak, with the launch of Culture.
“I feel like I created my own definitive style there (at Blue Duck),” explains Serviss. “People constantly ask for it. It’s what makes me happy to cook so I decided to make the change.”
The new menu debuted this week which he’s been showing off on the revamped Instagram page.
Drink “Beers of the Presidents” at Black Powder TavernBlack Powder Tavern and Yards Brewery salute Independence Day in colonial style with “Beers of the Presidents,” a special food and spirits event on Saturday, July 6th featuring Yards Washington Porter and Jefferson’s Golden Ale.
The event commemorates our nation’s independence and supports the Valley Forge Park Alliance, a local charity whose mission is to preserve and protect the Valley Forge National Historic Park.
Historical impersonators Ben Franklin and James Madison will welcome patrons with Franklin providing a special recitation of the Declaration of Independence. Expect patriotic tunes, patriotic cocktails, and outdoor games.
Tavern staff, patrons and volunteers from Valley Forge Park Alliance will be dressed in colonial period attire to raise awareness and funds for the park conservation. A portion of proceeds from the event will be donated to the Valley Forge Park Alliance to support its mission. The guest with the most creative costume will win a free dinner of their choice from the Tavern.
The event starts at 3pm and ends at 7pm and is open to the public.
3:00-3:30: Registration 4:00-4:30: Ben Franklin’s Reading of the Constitution 5:30-6:00: Judging of Period Costumes 6:00-6:30: Judges Announce Winner 7:00: Event Closes
The Black Powder Tavern is located at 1164 Valley Forge Rd in Wayne, PA.
On the morning of Friday, June 8th, 2018, I woke up to learn that Anthony Bourdain had died. To say I was shaken to my core is an understatement. I had a viscerally raw and physically jarring reaction upon hearing the news. I bolted up out of bed with tears immediately flooding my eyes. I kept saying, “WHAT?!” over and over again. I just could not believe the news. It was as if someone told me a family member had passed away.
I had been a superfan of Bourdain’s for quite a while. I first became aware of him in the early ’00s after his book Kitchen Confidential had been published and as host of A Cook’s Tour on the Food Network which I watched religiously. When his Travel Channel show No Reservations began, I became even more enamored with him as a personality, sparking a more ardent interest in food and cooking. I literally became obsessed with exploring the wider world of food, especially international cuisines, and food’s role in cultures around the globe. I credit him (among others) for igniting a deeper passion for food knowledge and eventually leading me to food writing.
While I never did get to meet Mr. Bourdain, I did get to see him live when he brought his final speaking tour to Philadelphia. It was a great show and I left admiring and respecting him even more, if that was possible.
When Chef David Murray announced a special dinner to commemorate Bourdain’s 63rd birthday, it didn’t surprise me that he would be one of the first (if not the first) to do it. One of the rooms in the old farmhouse where Denim American Bistro operates is called “The Bourdain Room” after all and features a print of the late culinarian.
I debated going because I wasn’t sure what my work schedule would be like this week as I have been working extra, often late, hours for the past couple of months. Last week, Chef Murray reached out and said that even though the event had sold out weeks ago, he had reserved a seat for me and would I be his guest because I had helped promote it. I accepted without hesitation. How could I not?
As soon as I walked into Denim, the restaurant was already packed. Throngs of Bourdain fans had gathered to honor and celebrate the beloved late television host by having a communal dinner prepared by Murray and his staff. The atmosphere was upbeat and convivial. Nobody knew the full menu until that evening. All we knew is that it would feature a 5-course meal of recipes from Bourdain’s books Les Halles and Appetites.
Chef David Murray Denim American Bistro Anthony Bourdain Dinner - YouTube
Chef Murray introduced the start of the meal and explained that all of the courses were followed 100% ingredient-wise from the cookbooks with just a couple of his own little spins. He also noted that he’d hoped this would be the first of many memorial dinners every year and that the purpose was not only to celebrate Bourdain, but to help raise money for The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Steak Tartare with Toast PointsFirst Course: Steak Tartare
The first course was Steak Tartare from the Les Halles cookbook. Chef Murray pointed out that one of the secret ingredients of the dish was good old American Heinz ketchup which seems unusual, but the more I thought about it, it began to make sense. I’m not usually a steak tartare girl. I like it fine, but there’s usually something else on a starter menu that catches my eye. With 14 ingredients, this steak tartare didn’t lack flavor. While the texture may not be too pleasing to the eye to the uninitiated, once you take a bite and the flavors come together, it becomes a more pleasurable endeavor. The key was to spread the tartare on the toast points with some dijon mustard for a melt in the mouth experience. My only insignificant qualm? I would have liked a little more dijon mustard. Not because the dish lacked flavor, but because I love dijon mustard. That’s all.
Tomato and Fennel SoupSecond Course: Tomato and Fennel Soup
The second course was Bourdain’s Tomato and Fennel Soup served with a goat cheese croquette. As Murray articulated when he kicked off the night’s dinner, “We eat with our eyes first!” So true! The bright orange-red hued large bowl of soup was a vibrant sight to behold and even better one to eat. The luxurious soup was bursting with deep tomato flavor and was quite velvety smooth. I sometimes worry when I see fennel as an ingredient in a dish, it could come off too licoricey, and dominate everything else. The fennel did not overpower the dish at all, in fact, it was the perfect amount and balanced the acidity of the tomato puree very well. But let’s talk about that goat cheese croquette?! Lord honey, I could have eaten 5 of them alone. It was an excellent topping for the soup, adding extra creaminess, and a little textural component. Everyone at my table raved about this soup which also comes from the Les Halles cookbook.
Skate GrenobloiseThird Course: Skate Grenobloise
The third course was Bourdain’s Skate Grenobloise. Skates are a type of cartilaginous fish that have a flat body and wing-like pectoral fins attached to their head. They’re actually closer to sharks and rays than they are traditional fish. There are a number of skate species that live in the waters off of the New Jersey coast. Using a local skate wing, this dish was delicately dredged and pan-fried in butter producing a lightly crispy exterior. Served with a lemon-butter-caper sauce and served over a generous portion of crispy, lightly fried kale. I’m not accustomed to eating skate and believe I have only had it once before. Overall, I felt the fish was cooked quite nicely and had good flavor, but I felt there was too much kale on the plate. In my eyes, it begged for a starch! Other than that, I really enjoyed it. Another from the Les Halles cookbook.
Tournedos de Veau Au PoivreFourth Course: Tournedos de Veau Au Poivre
Talk about a mouthful of a name for a dish! Another one from the Les Halles cookbook, Tournedos de Veau Au Poivre essentially means a filet of tender veal coated in coarsely chopped peppercorns. Such a delicate piece of meat! I never eat veal at home, but I will order it occasionally when dining out. This dish had the starch I was craving in the previous dish, it featured both regular and sweet potatoes along with grilled asparagus and topped with a white wine-based sauce. The veal was cooked flawlessly. A very well-rounded dish that I would order again for sure.
“Fuck Dessert!”[Photo: Megan Karetny]Fifth Course: Deconstructed Blueberry Stilton “Cheesecake” with Blueberry-Port Wine Compote
In Bourdain’s Appetites cookbook he starts the dessert chapter by saying, “Fuck dessert!” He didn’t really mean it, but he was just not a dessert or sweets kind of guy. He much preferred a cheese course. While I have a voracious sweet tooth, I’ll respect that and concur that a good cheese course is hard to pass up!
This dessert was Murray’s homage to Bourdain’s love of the cheese course. He produced a deconstructed cheesecake using Stilton blue cheese, which Bourdain exalted as the “king of cheeses.” Even as someone who doesn’t really like blue cheese (I know, I should turn in my foodie card right now, but hey I do like Gorgonzola on occasion so don’t hate on me too much), I respect the funky English cheese beloved the world over.
Top Golf in Mount Laurel, NJTop Golf is a sprawling three-story 65,000 square foot golf entertainment venue with a high-tech driving range & swanky lounge with drinks & games located at 104 Centerton Road in Mount Laurel, NJ.
3 levels of baysat Top Golf Mount Laurel
Golfers can rent one of 102 climate-controlled bays which can host up to up six players at a time, and choose from individual or team-based games. Prices range from $30, $40 or $50 per bay depending on the time of day.
View from 2nd level
Other amenities include:
Top Golf Mount Laurel Bar Area
It’s a great place for birthday parties, bachelor or bachelorette parties, corporate events, date nights, or just a night out with friends.
View from 1st level
I was excited to learn they’re now offering brunch on the weekdays until noon, weekends until 2:00 p.m. Upon invitation, we checked it out and enjoy some gameplay.
Brunch Cocktails at Top Golf in Mount Laurel
Every good brunch starts with some brunch cocktails! They have all of the usual suspects (Bloody Mary’s, Mimosa’s, etc.) They also have other refreshing cocktails.
I opted for the Cucumber Basil Cooler made with Belvedere Vodka, Hendrick’s Gin, Monin Pure Cane, Aloe Gloe Aloe Vera Water, fresh lime juice, basil, and cucumber. Absolutely delightfully refreshing on a beautiful June day!
Cucumber Basil Cooler
We chose a few items from the brunch menu and also a burger off of the regular menu.
Brunch at Top Golf in Mount Laurel
The Everything Bagel Flatbread was outstanding. It comes with smoked salmon, herbed cream cheese, tomatoes, capers, radish, and dill on top. Such a simple dish, but with lots of flavor. We easily ate the whole thing.
Everything Bagel Flatbread
The Ahi Tuna Avocado Toast was absolutely scrumptious. Rare Ahi tuna with avocado, diced orange, crispy quinoa, sesame seeds, cilantro, miso dressing on seeded bread.
Tuckers Tavern has been satisfying appetites for great food and good times for over 30 years in Beach Haven on Long Beach Island.
This year they’ve added something new — a rooftop bar called the Buoy Bar! With stunning views of the bay, it is sure to be one of the hottest spots on the island this summer so start making your plans to go now!
In addition, all Fearless Restaurant properties on Long Beach Island (Daddy O, Plantation) will be increasing their entertainment offerings during the week and on weekends throughout the summer season.
There will be more live entertainers as well as DJ nights, not unlike what they do at the Moshulu and The Deck in Philadelphia during the summer. Late nights on Long Beach Island are about to get hotter!
Tuckers is a comfort food destination on Long Beach Island with a nautical, gastro-pub feel. Lots of traditional casual fare plus raw bar and coastal beach favorites, great cocktails (mocktails, too!), wine selections, and plenty of beer on tap.
Tuckers Tavern 101 S. West Avenue Beach Haven, NJ 08008 609-492-2300
Check out these recent reviews of the Fearless Restaurant properties on Long Beach Island!
South Jersey Food Scene (here and here too)
Good Food New Jersey (here too)
Jersey Girl CooksPositive Publicity
Isiaka Meita’s young life was tragically cut short on Sunday during a graduation party in Southwest Philadelphia.
The 23-year old was a waiter at Fork Restaurant and owner Ellen Yin has started a GoFundMe to help his family with funeral expenses. Please consider a donation.
Happy Pride Month!
This month I wanted to shine a light on LGBTQA people working in the local food scene. I think it is important to recognize our diversity and include all of the fabulous people contributing to our amazing community.
Since it's #PrideMonth I'd love to find time to spotlight #LGBTQ folk in the local food scene. They don't have to be chefs or cooks, they can be service workers, too. If you want to nominate someone, email me firstname.lastname@example.org. TY! #loveislove#Pride#PrideinPhilly
I put the word out on Twitter and got a response from Fante’s Kitchen Shop (1006 S. 9th Street). So glad they reached out because it’s a good reminder that there are many more people working in non-restaurant food-based businesses that fly under the radar and don’t get a lot of recognition.
Mandie Spindler of Fante’s Kitchen Shop
Fante’s General Manager Liana Ottaviani nominated Mandie Spindler who is a full-time team member for the iconic retail housewares business in the Italian Market.
In Mandie’s words:
I am a queer bisexual femme living in South Philly. I work as an admin for Fante’s, and have been a core team member for almost 9 years. Since Fante’s is a small family-owned business, I wear many hats. I do a little bit of everything, from helping out on the sales floor to being a primary contributor to our weekly newsletter, and more.
When I asked Mandie why she loves working at Fante’s and at a food-based business, she replied:
Some of my favorite days working here are when I can interact with customers and help them to find what they need. I am passionate about working in a food-based business because no matter your walk of life, food is essential for living. I love to cook, especially for others. I guess you could say I show my love through food.
South Philadelphia Food Co-op
In addition to her work at Fante’s, she’s also a volunteer on the Member Services and Outreach Committee for the South Philly Food Co-Op. Through this work, she has been involved in fundraising and member recruitment for the community-owned grocery store which will be opening at 2031 S. Juniper Street.
Philadelphia Voices of Pride
Mandie is also very heavily involved in the local LGBTQA community as a founding member of Philadelphia Voices of Pride (Philadephia’s only LGBTQA mixed voice chorus); currently, an active member of their Marketing Committee and in the past, served on the Board as Member at Large.
Thank you, Mandie, for all you do for the Philly food scene and LGBTQA community!
Let’s keep the Pride Month love going! If you would like to nominate someone working in a food business, contact me!
What’s better than a cupcake?
A BOOZE-INFUSED CUPCAKE! That’s what.
Brunch Has a New Bestie
Haddonfield-based Indulgence Cupcakery is now offering brunch-inspired booze-infused cupcakes (“Brunchies”) available by the dozen for pre-order only.
Each adorable mini cupcake comes with a plastic pipette dropper filled with a flavored boozy elixir that you can “inject” into the cupcake or simply squeeze into your mouth.
This new line of spirits and exotic flavor infused brunch cupcakes is perfect for a gift or any occasion (see the full list of flavors list below).
Pamper Your Tastebuds
Each delectable treat, pairing classic complementary flavors, is sweet, mouthwatering perfection! My favorite flavors were the Strawberry Rosé, Royal Wedding, Caramel Macchiato, and Apple Crumb. But trust me, they were all decadently divine.
A dozen cupcakes of each flavor as seen above costs $40.
You can also get a dozen of any individual flavor you fancy.
Call 856-354-0400 or email Sweets@Indulgencecupcakery.com to place your order.
Indulgence Cupcakery is located at 43 Kings Highway East in Haddonfield (behind Haddy the Dinosaur sculpture).
Tell them Philly Grub sent ya!
Samples were provided, but as always opinions are my own.