Look, we know you people have pretty strong opinions about, well, everything, really. As evidenced by our comments section, Twitter feed, Facebook page and pretty much every other platform imaginable, Foobooz readers are not shy about telling people what they like and what they don’t.
So here’s a chance for all of you to put those opinions to good use. We’re currently taking votes in a poll which will ultimately decide this year’s Best Pizza category in our annual Best Of Philly issue. All you’ve got to do is follow the link and have your say.
It’s democracy in action, people, so do your part. Because if the shop you love doesn’t ultimately come through as the winner, you’ll have no one but yourself (and the people of Philadelphia) to blame.
Who Has Philly’s Best Pizza? [Vote Here]
We’ve been doing Open Stove nights at COOK for a long time now. We call it episode 41, but really there have been more like 45, maybe 50. There are a few early ones and a few weird ones that just never seem to make the count. Call them the Lost Open Stoves.
But regardless, we’ve done a lot of these. And for this one–a battle between crews from Local 44 and Rex 1516–we were looking for a new sort of challenge for the chefs. Something we hadn’t done before. And at the very last minute, we decided to do someting that I’ve been wanting to try for a long time now. A challenge crippling enough that, when I first announced it, midway through the appetizer round, the chefs and their sous just kind of stood there for a minute, assuming I was kidding.
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Back in August, a car accident killed two kids in Southampton, New Jersey. Two others were injured but survived and have been undergoing treatment and physical therapy ever since. Now, a bunch of the Delaware Valley’s best chefs are getting together to do a fundraiser for the families of the injured kids.
It’s a good deal for you because tickets are running $75 ($150 for VIP which includes early admission and a meet-and-greet reception with the chefs), and the white jackets they have signed on for this are an impressive group. We’re talking Kevin Sbraga, Greg Vernick, Brad Spence and Josh Lawler from our side of the river, plus Tony Sparacio (La Campagnola), Ivan Coppola (Tarantella) and Dory and Joe Valeriano (Summit Catering) from New Jersey.
And all of them will be getting together at Valenzano Winery (1090 Route 206, Shamong, NJ) for a single fundraising event on January 19 at 6:30pm (6pm if you’re a VIP) which will include chef’s tastings, beer and wine, a silent auction and entertainment.
So if you’ve got the green and feel like doing something good with it (while also getting yourself a fine dinner in the process), check out the event. Tickets and more information can be found at the link below.
Dining For Life [Tickets & info]
The Bouillabaisse at Neuf / Neuf
I was excited when Joncarl Lachman told me his next restaurant was going to be a French/North African concept. A little bit bistro, he said, but with the techniques and textures of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. A little gin at the bar, or maybe French 75’s drunk fast so the bubbles get right up in your nose. Flavors like the Marrakesh night market lit on fire.
And I was into it because Neuf was new—high-end North African food not being something you see much around Philadelphia—and because Lachman is good at doing new. He’s committed to turning geopolitical oddities (like Dutch/Scandinavian regional modernism at Noord, or a one-night-only rijsttafel pop-up dinner in collaboration with the crew from the Indonesian workingman’s cafe, Hardena) into satisfying, comforting dinners where the curation of the menu is nearly as important as how it all comes together on the table.
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New year, new you. That’s what people say, right? New expectations, new experiences and, hey, maybe a little new knowledge, too. So with that in mind, we have a sneak peek at the new schedule of upcoming classes at COOK–a place where you can learn about everything from tacos with Jason Cichonski to shellfish with Joncarl Lachman. It ain’t all just about drinking SPAM shots and cooking with gummy bears, folks…
Check out the upcoming schedule after the jump. It goes live at 2pm tomorrow, and the best classes are gonna sell out fast, so you know what to do…
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Every year we take a moment to look back at the Foobooz web statistics and see what it was that brought you to visit us. There are always some obvious things: Restaurant openings and closings, reviews, and our big packages like 50 Best Restaurants. But there are always some small, odd tidbits and trends that we discover while poking at the data.
So here’s what visitors to Foobooz were most interested in this year, and what we learned.
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Illustration by James Boyle
Hey, big guy. It’s me again. Over the years I’ve made a habit of coming to you every December and selflessly burning up all my Christmas wishes in an attempt to make Philadelphia a better place to eat. I’ve asked for butcher shops and whiskey and Asian street food, and you’ve come through with Kensington Quarters, Cooper River, and that giant indoor food-cart monstrosity they’re (allegedly) building over in Chinatown. Though you never did convince Questlove to open his Hybird fried chicken joint here, I do appreciate all the other chicken-fryers you’ve inspired—from Andy’s to the Fat Ham to Southgate. And while I’m still waiting to see if you’ll come through on making our local cocktail culture a little less, I don’t know … mustache-y?, I have faith you’ve got something (like maybe a GQ article claiming that tight vests and tiny hats cause impotence) up your sleeve and are just waiting for the right moment.
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The menu board and Cornish pastries at Stargazy | Jason Varney
This year, the restaurants that didn’t quite make the cut say almost as much about our city as those that did.
Things in Philly are changing. Things in Philly are always changing, but these past couple years have been more tumultuous than usual.
Fine dining has taken a big hit. On our entire list of the best restaurants in the city, there are only a handful that could be considered fine dining. Fast-casual has become a viable local model. Some of our best eating is now done at the bar, late at night. The gastropub revolution that took hold so firmly here has become a base onto which we’ve built something new and not yet really named—a Philly cuisine that has as much to do with how you eat as with what’s on the plate, the table or the wine list.
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The new 50 Best Restaurants List | Photo by Samuel Markey
If it seems too soon for another 50 Best Restaurants issue, you’re right. For a long time, this list was something we put together every two years. But now that’s changing. Because it has to.
Philadelphia’s restaurant scene moves fast today—too fast for the kind of monolithic thinking that says a list of the best restaurants in this city could possibly stand, fundamentally unchanged, for two years. Fortunes rise and fall over weeks, not years. Opinions shift. Focus drifts. There was a time when a list of the best restaurants in Philly could have some breathing room—would be just as true (or nearly as true) six months or a year later as it was on the day it hit the stands. But today that sort of thinking seems as quaint as cedar-plank salmon or those bicycles with one big wheel in front—an artifact of another time.
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