Michael Solomonov: The Culinary Emissary

Michael Solomonov | Photograph by Jonathan Pushnik

Michael Solomonov was in his chef’s apron, dusty with bread flour. Zahav was still brand-new, in 2008, and he was rolling out disks for laffa, the chewy, rumpled cousin of pita. This was my first sight of him in his new digs in Society Hill, before it all — before the documentary searching for the soul (if there indeed was just one) of Israeli cuisine, before the stardom (James Beard’s top chef honor), before the street-food eateries (among them a hip hummusiya and a falafel joint called Goldie), before he got clean, before he fully healed from his brother’s death from a Hezbollah sniper’s bullet, and all the rest.

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Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski: Brewmeisters, Biz Whizzes

Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski in 1996 | Photograph courtesy of Bill Heaton

At this point, ordering a Victory Prima Pils might be just as “Philly” as ordering a Yuengling lager — a stunning expression of the influence of the once-upstart Downingtown brewery. Over two-plus decades, Victory Brewing Company co-founders Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski have grown their footprint, thanks in part to a savvy, forward-looking partnership with New York’s Southern Tier, making them the 13th biggest craft brewer in the country. Their path to the big time: Read more »

Where to Eat This Weekend: All Around the World

The Phogie at Middle Child | Photo by Alex Jones

No one can agree on anything around here. When I asked everyone where they were eating this weekend, the responses I got back bounced around the globe like Phileas Fogg. Falafel and carrot salad, Taco Angeleno (again, because it may or may not be closing up shop for the season), American diner food in Wash West, Italian pork chops from the Navy Yard and dumplings from Queen Village.

It was crazy, but it’s also a measure of just how broad our food scene is here in Philly. And that’s not even counting the Vietnamese and Cambodian pop-ups or Guy Fieri in Chester.

Anyway, here’s where everyone is eating this weekend. Maybe we’ll see you there.

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Philly Craft Spirits Week Is Back

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So you already know about Whiskey Fest, Philly Mag’s whiskey and fine spirits festival that’s happening at Lincoln Financial Field on October 26th. It’s a huge party, with something like 300 different spirits available for sampling, a dozen-some restaurants serving snacks, and almost every local distiller in the Philadelphia region getting together in one place to put their booze side-by-side with some of the best in the world. If you don’t already have your tickets for Whiskey Fest, you should absolutely get them now.

But Philly’s local distilling scene? It’s gotten too big to be contained to just one night. Which is why, for the second year in a row, the whole gang of them has gotten together to plan a week of festivities in and around Philly — everything from several different Halloween parties, bar takeovers and a huge cocktail competition to a block party, brunches, various collaborations, an old-school gin & juice party and more. It’s Philly Craft Spirits Week, and details about the various events are just starting to pop up on the official website.

Here’s what looks good right now.

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Gran Caffe l’Aquila Will Teach You All About Roman Jewish Cuisine

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Gran Caffe l’Aquila, the Rittenhouse gelateria, espresso bar, restaurant, is all about Italy. You can even take Italian cooking and language classes there.

And next week, they’re celebrating a sometimes-overlooked community that had an immeasurable impact on Italian food through centuries of oppression with a weeklong celebration of Roman Jewish cuisine.

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SouthGate Has a New Chef and a New Menu

Kimchi paejon at SouthGate | Photo courtesy of Bondfire Media

Korean gastropub SouthGate has gone through a few changes recently.

Chef Matt Delatour has taken over for David Feola in the kitchen — and he’s updated the menu to make it his own.

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It’s a Solomonov Takeover at the Center City Whole Foods

Left: Photo by Michael Persico | Right: FedNuts Facebook

Earlier this week, word got out that Cheu Noodle Bar and Wiz Kid were bowing out of their Whole Foods food stall arrangement otherwise known as “Restaurant Row.” That their last day would be this Sunday, October 22nd, that CookNSolo’s hummusiya Dizengoff (and Severino Pasta) would remain, and that two replacement concepts were already en route.

Today, Whole Foods announced its new tenants: CookNSolo’s newish falafel shop, Goldie, and the group’s — count ’em — seventh Federal Donuts location (in partnership with Tom Henneman, Bob Logue, and Felicia D’Ambrosio).  Read more »

Eat Here Now: Trattoria Carina

Carina’s new interior

According to Ed Hackett, Director of Operations for Pub & Kitchen, The Diving Horse in Avalon and now Carina Trattoria, the problem with Fitler Dining room was that it was too busy.

“It became looked upon too much as a special occasion restaurant,” he says when I get him on the phone to talk about his and Clark’s new project, Trattoria Carina. “We got so busy with reservations. We built this great neighborhood restaurant and, by the end, the neighbors couldn’t come. They couldn’t get in.”

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Taste Resistance at the PHL Assembled Kitchen This Month

Jerk chicken and mixed greens at the PHL Assembled Kitchen | Photo by Alex Jones

PHL Assembled, the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s sprawling, multi-year project initiated by Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk and led by a team of more than 150 community-based artists, activists, farmers, chefs, and community members, opened as an exhibit in the Perelman Building last month.

The exhibit — unprecedented at the PMA for its focus on the work of living artists from resilient communities all over the city — includes work made by and centering black, indigenous, immigrant, addicted, and incarcerated citizens. (If you haven’t seen it yet, go: admission to the exhibit is pay-what-you-wish through its conclusion on December 10th, and there’s a busy slate of workshops, screenings, celebrations, and discussions taking place as part of the exhibit.)

And part of the project is the PHL Assembled Kitchen, which has been serving a daily lunch menu curated by a team of organizers and culinary artists throughout the exhibition. First, they built their menu around the concept of Survival. Now through November 5th, a new group of chefs are presenting dishes around the theme of Resistance.

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Yards Brewery and Taproom Is on Track for a November Opening

Rendering courtesy of Yards Brewing Company

Yards Brewing Company has been planning to leave its now-cramped space on Delaware Avenue for a bigger, better facility in Northern Liberties for a while now.

And this week, we learned that their new 70,000 square-foot spot at 500 Spring Garden Street, Yards Brewery and Taproom, will open sometime in November — and that James Beard Award semifinalist Jim Burke will head up the brewery’s first-ever kitchen.

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