- Neighborhood: Northern Liberties
- 501 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA
- Phone: 215-928-0106
- Cuisine: Italian
- Alcohol: BYOB
- Price: $$
- Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Last night was our 16th Open Stove night at COOK. Or maybe our 18th. The amount of drinking that goes on, it’s hard to keep track sometimes.
But anyway, it was, for certain, ONE of our Open Stove nights–this one bringing together Geno Betz, sous chef at Stateside, Anthony Passeri from Popolino (which is due to open back up again any day now, after their summer break), and their brave assistants for a culinary battle royale that would only end when one of them emerged victorious.
The challenge this time around? Making a New American cook and an Italian cook work with Jewish ingredients in honor of Rosh Hashanah. To that end, we hit ‘em with secret ingredient after secret ingredient–everything from honey and apple-flavored licorice to matzoh crackers (which, for some reason, caused Phyllis Stein-Novack to just lose her shit), Manishewitz (which also caused Phyllis Stein-Novack to lose her shit), pomegranite, gefilte fish, challah and so forth.
The two teams fought hard, talked some smack, drank shots, blew the time limit (more than once) and, in the end, it was Team Popolino that prevailed, having done everything from challah bruscetta with herbed gefilte fish spread to a bitter greens salad with apple licorice lardons.
It was a good night. It was a long night. It was a night full of drinking and surprises and something like ten courses of inspired seat-of-their-chef-pants cuisine. And if you missed it, just click through the link to see what it looked like on the inside of Open Stove 16.
Or 18. Or whatever.
Craig LaBan drops one-bell on Peter McAndrews’ Nothern Liberties BYOB, Popolino. LaBan finds quality control issues and admonishes McAndrews to get back in the kitchen.
Too many dishes, though, stumbled over execution that can only be described as “sloppolino.” The lamb carpaccio was flavorful, but warmed so much that the curling shreds looked like cheesesteak meat scraped off a griddle. A clever saltimbocca variation of trout wrapped in prosciutto and sage was overcooked, as stiff as a board. The luscious tuna was wildly overspiced. Veal with mushrooms was drowned in cream. And the odd, mole-like cocoa sauce for the canneloni could not hide the lack of tenderness of the shredded oxtail tucked inside.
One Bell – Hit-or-Miss
Peter McAndrews is a busy guy. He’s got Modo Mio and Monsu, two outlets for his Paesano’s sandwich shops, and a new restaurant called Il Porto scheduled to debut sometime soon out near Media. But none of that stopped him from swooping in on the space at 501 Fairmount Avenue that once housed the Lafayette Bistro, turning it around in about three month’s time, and announcing that, starting on Wednesday, March 14, it was now going to be the Roman peasant-food restaurant Popolino.