Taking a Stand for Immigrants and Undocumented Workers at Le Virtù

Joe Cicala at La Panarda | Photo by Alex Tewfik

Photo by Alex Tewfik

Look, there’s a long story to this and there’s a short one. A complicated one and a simple one.

The short, simple version is this: On March 15, Le Virtù is hosting a dinner to benefit PAUWR (Popular Alliance for Undocumented Workers’ Rights), a group working toward gaining legal status for this group. Chef Joe Cicala and his sous chef, Poli Sanchez, will be working together to create a four-course “Sanctuary Supper” with a menu where each course includes both a Mexican and an Italian component. The dinner, including a wine pairing, starts at 6:30pm and will cost you $120 per person (not counting tax or tip), and all profits will go to PAUWR as part of a national fund-raising campaign to help them continue to fight in what is becoming an increasingly adversarial political environment.

You wanna help? Go eat dinner. That’s the simple version. But like so many things these days, the motivations behind it are complicated. Why Le Virtù is doing this dinner, how they got connected with PAUWR and why owner Francis Cratil Cretarola thinks that this kind of event at this time in history is so important? That’s the long story.

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High Street On Market is One of the Best Healthy(ish) Restaurants in America

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Those of us who know High Street on Market and eat there with any kind of regularity probably don’t exactly think of it as a health food restaurant. Because of, you know, all that bread (gluten), those tea cakes and apple fritters (sugar, butter, fat), and sandwiches like the Hickory Town (boloney, eggs, cheese, gherkin mayo, awesomeness).

But according to our friends over at BeWell Philly–and, more to the point, the crew at Bon Appetit’s new health-focused blog, Healthyish–High Street really is a healthy place to eat. Or, at least it’s not a not healthy place to eat. Or something.

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Sneak Preview: COOK’s March Schedule

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It’s that time again. COOK is releasing their March class schedule and we’ve got a sneak preview for Foobooz readers looking to get ahead of the game and scout out their seats before they all sell out.

Slight complication this month? Owing to the vagaries of email and last-minute changes, THIS schedule is going on sale today at 2pm. So you’ve got less lead-time than usual. But still, if you’re interested in hanging out with George Sabatino or Peter Woolsey, if you want to learn about baking pies with the Hungry Pigeon’s Pat O’Malley or Jewish/Asian cuisine with Yehuda Sichel from Abe Fisher, then you know what to do.

Check out the schedule, pick your spot, and be ready at 2pm to get what’s yours. Full list of classes after the jump.

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Jonathan Petruce Has A New Gig

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“I don’t have an official title,” Jonathan Petruce told me when I got him on the phone after yesterday’s review of Cinder went up. “I don’t really have a restaurant either…”

But what the former Cinder chef does have is a new job with Michael Schulson‘s restaurant group. He got it on Wednesday, he tells me. And he hasn’t even really started yet. But he knows one thing: “[Schulson] wants his places to be as close to perfect as possible. And I’m there to help him implement that.”

He chuckles.

“I guess.”

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Guess Who’s Coming to Cook at Osteria?

RedRooster1On Friday, February 10, at 6:30pm, Marcus Samuelsson (of Red Rooster in Harlem) will be hitting Philly to hang out with the crew at Osteria, cook a collaborative dinner, and talk about his new book, the Red Rooster Cookbook.

And while it’s kind of a big deal every time a famous chef rolls through Philly hoping to get his hands dirty in one of our kitchens, Samuelsson is a bigger deal than most. He’s a great chef. The book is supposed to be very good (I haven’t seen it yet). And to have him in the kitchen with the Osteria team? That just sounds awesome.

Actually, I know it’s going to be awesome. Because I know what they’re going to be cooking that night. Want to see the menu?

Of course you do.

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New, Seasonal And Limited-Time Menu Items Coming To Shake Shack

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Photo courtesy Evan Sung

Okay, yes. There are some new Shake Shack sandwiches. And fries. And shakes. And blah blah blah whatever.

But seriously? Look at that fried chicken sandwich up there and tell me that you don’t IMMEDIATELY have to eat that. It is a work of art. Of edible, deep-fried, BBQ-slathered art.

I’m gonna need a minute before we continue…

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Aiming For The Middle: Cinder Reviewed

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I go to Cinder on a gray afternoon, looking for comfort and distraction, and find it at the bar—two giant TVs showing football on one side, talking heads silently shouting about sports on the other. It’s quiet because I’m there between services—too late for lunch and too early for a meal to reasonably be called dinner—but I’m not alone. A two-top in the corner is occupied, as are a couple tables on the floor. At the bar, some beer nerds are taking advantage of owner Teddy Sourias’s unapologetic ode to the newest retro-fad among drinkers: cider. Sourias already has BRU, which focuses on beer and sausages, U-Bahn (his Berlin-subway-theme bar) and Uptown Beer Garden (which, obviously, is a sushi bar). In other words, he’s got beer covered and has always put together good lists of interesting brews, generally braced by the things people like to eat while drinking.

Cinder falls solidly inside that bull’s-eye. Everything about it, from the highly polished bar and hi-top tables to the orange glow coming from the mouth of the big oven in the open kitchen, speaks to this moment in Philadelphia’s edible history. It’s an efficient and highly designed concept restaurant masquerading as a neighborhood bar and aiming for that sweet spot of two-notches-better-than-you-expect—the benchmark level of acceptable quality in Philly these days.

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Eat This Now: Royal Sushi and Izakaya’s “Industry” Chirashi

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You know what’s cool about Royal Sushi and Izakaya? Like we told you last week, pretty much everything, from the shumai to the sushi to the space robots. But when a restaurant like this surprise-opens on you (mind you, nearly six years after it was first announced), the smaller details reveal themselves over time, on the fly, something new for every visit.

Like, say, Royal chef Jesse Ito’s off-the-menu “industry” chirashi.

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Otis & Pickle’s Speakeasy Has A Menu

Otis & Pickles Speakeasy

Otis & Pickle’s Speakeasy

You guys remember Otis & Pickle’s Speakeasy, right? It’s the new bar project being put together by Charlie Collazo of the Institute, located deep in South Philly in the former home of Cooley’s Bar at the corner of 3rd and Porter. Back when we first reported on the place, we knew three things about it.

One, it was going to be a “speakeasy” focused on cocktails and, of course, pickles.

Two, this:

Collazo got the name from a couple of characters he met who over the summer while working at the Creamery Beer Garden in Kennett Square this summer. Otis and Pickles are brothers who owned an automotive garage near the Creamery. Both are over 70, Otis just lost his last tooth and Pickles, well he’s often pickled.

And three, it was going to be a place that did not tolerate “douchebaggery,” which we appreciate.

But now we’ve got a few more details. Like a menu. And a tentative opening date.

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Stargazy Is Taking Over The Kitchen At Brigantessa For Family Meal

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“Family Meal” is an institution at restaurants. It’s that meal, put together by the kitchen, for the entire staff, front and back of the house. In some places, it is a leisurely thing–eaten either before or after service, while sitting, with friends and comrades. In others, it’s a fast thing bolted down in the mad moments before the first tables are seated.

But once a month at Brigantessa, it’s something else completely.

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