Greg Vernick in the kitchen of his restaurant | Photo via Facebook
Every restaurant has an inaugural “regular,” and for Vernick, it was me.
At least that’s what chef Greg Vernick divulged, with a chuckle, when I called to ask a few questions about a late-spring meal. It was news to me. It seems that after I paid my third visit — a bit too quickly on the heels of my first two upon its 2012 opening — general manager Ryan Mulholland giddily proclaimed that the restaurant’s first serial patron was officially in the bag.
Whereupon I returned once more — and then completely disappeared for almost three years. Read more »
Spaghetti and Meatballs at Triangle Tavern | Photo by Jeffrey Towne
There’s only so much you can tell about a restaurant from its staff’s sartorial choices. But Triangle Tavern’s bar — whose bulbous edge gleams darkly with decades’ worth of varnish — offered a fascinating study in contrasts as I settled in amid drifting speckles of disco-ball light. A bullet casing swung from my bartender’s pale white neck as she stirred Dubonnet into gin. Nearby, a slender crucifix tagged its owner as a South Philadelphian of a more iconic stripe. And passing between them was a young black man rocking a Portland Trail Blazers jersey. Read more »
Beef tartare with green strawberry | Photo by Neal Santos
On the first day, there were Edison bulbs. Twenty-first-century diners across the land gazed up from rough-hewn farm tables, from their plates of artisanal charcuterie and pork belly with rich-yolked local egg, and beheld the bygone incandescence of the tungsten age.
On the second day, there were Clover Clubs and Aviations. Barmen wearing arm garters and handlebar mustaches shook Prohibition’s elixirs into the Facebook era.
Oh, but on the third day our souls willfinally sing, for the jazz club will rise again! Read more »
Trio of pizzas at the Parlor | Photo by Danya Henninger
Confession of a city critic: Whenever I have to schlep out to the suburbs, I can’t help but grit my teeth. Expectations drop beyond the county line. For every Junto, there are three Saint Jameses, and there goes an hour’s worth of unleaded into the ledger of our atmospheric doom.
But I exaggerate. The Saint James’s awfulness lay far beyond the reach of replication, much less in triplicate. Yet trepidation nevertheless filled the family wagon as we made our way to its replacement in Ardmore’s Suburban Square. Owner Rob Wasserman rebooted the ill-starred concept in March as a pizzeria called Parlor, where pies bearing somewhat distressing names such as Buffy and Beastmode awaited us. Read more »
Vesper Bar | Photo by Neal Santos
Two men walk into a bar.
“May we go downstairs?” one asks, gesturing toward a bookcase that conceals a secret stairwell.
“Do you have the password?” the hostess replies, flashing a flinty sidelong stare. Read more »
￼Tortellini with brussels sprouts | Photo by Jason Varney
You knew this was coming. In Philadelphia, where chefs are constantly popping up in one another’s kitchens or dueling each other at Cook, it was only a matter of time before two of them would notice a FOR RENT sign as they carpooled home one night and decide to take the next logical step and move in together. Read more »
Fish Tacos at Buena Onda | Photo by Jason Varney
Strange things are afoot in Fast Food Nation. McDonald’s, whose 2013 Mighty Wings promotion left the chain sitting on 10 million pounds of unsold chicken, is so deep in a corporate identity crisis that it just gave the Hamburglar a makeover as a suburbanite hipster. Meanwhile, Shake Shack’s stock hit a P/E ratio nearly 10 times higher than Facebook’s. And now Jose Garces is leaping into the quick-serve sweepstakes with a value proposition of his own: $3.50 fish tacos, and free beer while you wait. Read more »
It’s not every night out that you come across an ingredient that you’ve never heard of before. But here’s an even rarer thing: when you go home and plug it into Wikipedia, only to discover that, according to the International Union For Conservation of Nature, it’s one of the 100 worst invasive species on earth.
Go ahead, Google “Japanese knotweed”. One of the top results offers “Eradication Strategies.”
Let me offer mine: Get over to Petruce et al, and gobble up slender stalks of it in one of the more unexpectedly delightful salads I’ve come across in a while.
Read more »
At Ralph’s Italian Restaurant, where a century’s worth of footsteps have buffed the dining room’s floor mosaic as smooth as the inside of an oyster shell, the idea of a regular customer takes on a genealogical hue. Five generations of the same family have owned and operated the place, which was founded by Francesco Dispigno in 1900 and has occupied its current location for 100 years. But one of their biggest points of pride is a clientele whose claim on the tables is almost as ancestral.
“We have three and four generations of families as customers,” marvels Jim Rubino, the 53-year-old great-grandson of Francesco, and grandson of Rafael Dispigno, whose Anglicized name the restaurant bears. “It’s a remarkable thing.”
Read more »
Pork Osso Buco and Stecchini Genoves | Courtney Apple
With all due consideration for sore thumbs and Kim Kardashian’s badonka-donk, nothing sticks out from its surroundings quite like Palladino’s on Passyunk.
The Italian chophouse rears up over the Avenue’s Broad Street gateway like a wedge of layer cake iced by an architectural prankster. Its banded black and white facade serves up an allusion to the medieval tower of Siena’s Duomo atop the Streamline Moderne curve of a sidewalk-sheltering hip roof, and the whole thing is capped off with a sky-scraping signboard that broadcasts the restaurateur’s name in lipstick red.
And you can hear Luke Palladino’s Philadelphia debut from nearly as far away as you can see it. Saxophone-rock solos and Super-tramp reverberate on the covered curb with a brashness compounded inside by crowds that can be as boisterous on a Wednesday evening as on a Saturday night. You can take a chef out of Atlantic City, but apparently you can’t take Atlantic City out of this chef. Read more »