After Two Decades, Anastasi Seafood Finds a New Home in the Italian Market

Anastasi Seafood is a Philadelphia tradition, an Italian Market institution famous for its friendly service and quality seafood market, plus its lovely restaurant and bar with fun happy hour specials and outdoor seating. The family-run operation (over 80 years old) is currently helmed by fourth generation owners Janet Stechman and Salvator Anastasi, a brother and sister team who grew up on 9th Street vending crabs from their living room. Janet claims to know every crack on the 9th Street sidewalk.

The family had two stores — one at 1039 South 9th and the other at 905 South 9th  — before they moved to their current corner location at 1101 South 9th Street in 1996. And after over twenty years selling crabs and shucking oysters from that very corner, Anastasi Seafood will close up shop to make way for an ambitious, five-story mixed-use building featuring 70 apartments, underground parking, and an estimated 18,000 square feet in retail space.

But as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens, and Restaurant Neuf, Joncarl Lachman and Bob Moysan’s French-North African bistro, will close its doors for good this Sunday, April 30th, after brunch service.

Which means there’s a door left open for Janet and Salvator.

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Eating Crickets, River Snails and Fertilized Eggs in West Philly

Photography by SQ Productions

Photography by SQ Productions

Back in 2002, before it strutted the Vientiane name, the Phanthavong family’s Laotian operation out of West Philly functioned more like an outdoor speakeasy than a cafe. It was known as the “Blue Tent” among locals — a tarp-covered wooden structure which served as an unofficial meeting place for the neighborhood’s blooming Southeast Asian community. The family-run setup was helmed by Phoxay Sidara and Daovy Phanthavong — Laotian refugees — and their two daughters Manorack and Sunny. Hordes of families, friends and neighbors would line up outside the Phanthavong household for a taste of Daovy’s cooking and a seat under the tent where they could spend the night drinking and gambling (before dinner, Sunny proudly mentioned, “Laotians know how to party.”). But, remember, this was an “underground” business with no licenses and permits, and those can only last so long. One night, L&I knocked on the Phanthavong’s front door — they were being raided. The Blue Tent was done.

A year later, the family opened their cafe at 4728 Baltimore Avenue. And that’s how Vientiane Café got its start as the city’s premier Laotian restaurant.

Now they’re serving bugs.

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Rooster Soup Company Makes Some Tweaks

Photo by Tommy Baboon

Photo by Tommy Baboon

Center City’s darling new give-back diner, Rooster Soup Company, caught some national attention last week after GQ named it one of the ten best new restaurants in the country. The author, Brett Martin, waxes creative about Rooster’s chicken schnitzel sandwich, its Yemenite chicken pot pie and its smoked-matzo-ball soup; he even goes so far as to mention its hours (“[o]pen from breakfast through early-bird dinner”).

Now, just four days after the list was published, Rooster Soup Co. tweaked its menu and hours, so its entire blurb is effectively dated material — a perfect example of the fidgety, fast-moving, fickle nature of the restaurant business.

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What’s New, Stephen Starr?

(AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

(AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

It’s been a while since we’ve heard Stephen Starr’s name being whispered in Philly.

He’s got the number one restaurant in all of New York City, he’s opening restaurants in France — at this point in his career, he’s outgrown whispers. But lately, his name keeps popping up, what with two new restaurants opening in Rittenhouse Square and another rumored to open in the old Cosi space at 15th and Locust. So Foobooz decided it was time to check in with our city’s celebrity restaurateur to see how his Philly empire’s shaping up in 2017.

First things first: Starr will not be opening at 15th and Locust Streets.

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Wahlburgers Makes a Banh Mi Burger, Gets It All Wrong

wahlburgers

Wahlburgers/Facebook

Wahlburgers — Paul, Marky Mark, and Donnie Wahlberg’s burger chain out of Boston — plopped its first Philadelphia outpost onto the northern tip of Schmidt’s Commons (formerly called Piazza at Schmidt’s), where Darling’s Diner used to hold residence. There, the bros brought their fat-stacked patty melts and “Dorchestah”-inspired burgers to a city already so full of casual burger joints, some chains (Shake Shack, Bareburger, BurgerFi), some not (SpOt Burgers, Sketch Burger, P’unk Burger). When ordering at Wahlburgers, we Philadelphians must give up our mid-Atlantic dialect to Northeast inflections — “fluffanuttas” and “smahlburgers” —  which can be a bit awkward, but the product is decent enough, so, eh.

But Wahlburger’s executive chef Paul Wahlberg just added a new menu item called the Banh Mi Burger, and I have thoughts.  Read more »

Dock Street Brewery Has a New Side Hustle

Dock Street Brewery is one of those places that never stops pushing. When it first opened in 1985, it was the first brewpub the city’s ever seen, not to mention one of the first post-prohibition craft breweries in the country. They were brewing Royal Bohemian Pilsners and Amber Ales during the dark ages of light lagers and macro-brews. When the city finally jumped on the craft beer train, they kept on keeping on with goat brain beer, anti-Trump beer and Wu Tang beer. They’ve even launched an offshoot distilling company, Dock Street Spirits.

And now, again, something new: the Dock Street Cannery and Tasting Lounge, opening on April 27th (next Thursday).

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Rarest Closed Over the Weekend

Photo by Emily Teel

Photo by Emily Teel

Anthony Marini was Philly’s first and only winner from CNBC’s Restaurant Startup — basically, Shark Tank for restaurants. The original, winning idea was an all-raw restaurant highlighting crudos, tartares, and salumi. Then, closer to its opening, the idea evolved into a modern American restaurant with sections of the menu dedicated to the rare and raw. And with a hefty investment from Joe Bastianich and then a partnership with Tom Finley of Finley Catering, he opened Rarest at the AKA Franklin Residences in November. First impressions were great.

Now, just over five months later, the restaurant is closed.

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Eat Your Veggies at Morgan’s Pier This Summer

morgans pier

This Thursday, April 20th, Morgan’s Pier will open for the 2017 season, and if you’ve been following along, you’ll know the Helm guys — Kevin D’Egidio and Mike Griffiths, the chef duo behind some of the city’s finest locally and responsibly sourced eats — are in charge of the kitchen this year, putting their own spin on the tried-and-true cheffy backyard BBQ tradition.

Exciting, yes, but also curious. How can two chefs who’ve spent the better part of their careers in small kitchens working with small producers apply that same sort of philosophy to a mega-venue like Morgan’s Pier?

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Cheu Noodle Bar’s Tiki Night Means Lots of Spam, Loco Moco and Mai Tais

Cheu Noodle Bar

Ben Puchowitz, the chef-half of the Cheu Noodle Bar duo, spent his honeymoon in Hawaii this past winter, and like any good chef, he ate everything he could get his hands on. And he misses it — all of it — the beaches, the weather, the food.

Now, couple Puchowitz’s heartache for Hawaii with the fact that Cheu chefs Justin Bacharach and Bryan Donovan just got back from noodle R&D in L.A. (which included lots of tiki bars), and you’ve got a whole lot of Polynesian vibes floating around Washington Square West.

So the Cheu team’s decided to throw a Tiki Night. Here’s what you should know.

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