Brian Freedman provides the lowdown on chef Konstantinos Pitsillides’s Sunday Cypriot mezze dinner at Kanella. The menu changes each week but you can count on it to be “honest, exciting, deeply comforting experience that, on a Sunday night, is the perfect way to begin a new week.”
Kanella, the endearingly small, five-year-old Cyprian BYO sits at the corner of 10th and Spruce, containing wicker chairs, wooden tables, and exposed brick walls graced with copper cookware. Anything more would be a disservice to the chef. Food is the focus here, and there’s a certain necessitarianism to Konstantinos Pitsillides’s cooking—an effortless persuasion that this sort of cuisine should only be prepared by him, that there is exactly one way to compose each dish, and that Pitsillides is the only chef in the world doing it correctly. Soak your bread in the brightly spiced yogurt sauce that accompanies the lamb dumplings, and let his famed “katsiki” stew’s layers of flavor unwind for a lifetime. His food is convincing, his talent is compelling, and his restaurant is still worth a visit. Or a hundred.
The intriguingKonstantinos Pitsillides of Kanella has dropped his popular and long-running goat stew from the menu and replaced it with a suckling pig entree.
Twenty-five bucks gets you a plate featuring meat from 20-pound whole baby porkers Pitsillides rubs with lard and his own spice blend before slow-roasting for up to three hours; he serves up the pork with love letter pasta tossed with cheese and sweet peas.
We’ve been meaning to stop at Kanella for too long now, not just for the for the Cypriot fare but to take some good photos of Konstantinos Pitsillides‘ “vintage twitter.” The posts hang on individual sheets of paper in the window of his kitchen.
Well if you believe everything or even a portion of what you read online it’s 2 bells for Kanella. But for those who prefer Sunday breakfast with ink-stained fingers, the result is 3 bells. So which result is correct? With all this praise we’re thinking it’s 3-bells.
“Cyprus’ loss is our gain”
“several memorable meals”
“uncompromising conviction of a great folk singer”
“masterful at redeeming the nearly lost art of the braise and the stew”
“one of the most profound dishes I’ve eaten all year”
“humming happily after that meal”
“I’m still savoring the list of highlights”
“sublimely tender rabbit”
Update: Three Bells – Excellent is the correct rating.
Esquire Magazine comes up with the 59 best breakfast places in America and Philadelphia’s Kanella makes the list. We’ll pay no attention that Holiday Inn Express also is in there and we’ll ignore that Kanella’s web site doesn’t mention breakfast or even brunch. But those are just details, it’s Friday and we’d rather celebrate that Philadelphia’s lone CypriotÂ restaurant has gotten some national accolades.
The Cypriot breakfast plate tastes heartier and more serious than its American counterpart: Sunny-side eggs fried in olive oil have a thick yolk and crunchy underlining, grilled halloumi and lounza (ham) are salty slabs, and the coffee is made Turkish-style by boiling finely powdered roasted beans (mixed with sugar) over a propane burner. Let the dregs settle.
If you haven’t been to Kanella you’re really missing out. Elisa Ludwig is the latest to heap praise on the Cypriot BYOB on Spruce Street.
Kanella is a fresh, fantastic addition to the local BYO lineup. For one thing, there’s no other kitchen serving this food â€” the cuisine of Cyprus is an unmistakable amalgam of Greek and Turkish influences augmented by notes from France, Italy, Lebanon and elsewhere â€” in the region. Chef/owner Konstantinos Pitsillides has created a well-edited menu that makes his native cuisine accessible without dumbing down its distinct flavors. Even more notable is the cooking itself, which eschews fancy innovations for authenticity and simplicity. It’s honest, good food. If there’s a gimmick here, it’s that what you see is what you get.
Adam Erace enjoys Kanella, the Cypriot BYOB that has made quite the debut at 10th and Spruce.
[Chef/owner Konstantinos] Pitsillides, former chef of Meze in Bella Vista, is not afraid to bring it with some pig trotters or sieftaliaâ€”spiced pork sausages cased in caul fat, the lacy membrane that contains an animalâ€™s internal organs. Or how about tarama, carp roe whipped into a silky, surprisingly delicate dip served with grilled pita? With tangy tzatziki and fragrant carrot-and-cardamom, itâ€™s one of a trio of dips that change according to Pitsillidesâ€™ whims.