WATCH: Italian Market Grease Pole Competition

Watching videos of more than a dozen greasy people stacking themselves on top of each other in attempt to climb a 30-foot, lard-slicked, sausage-topped pole doesn’t really compare to standing amongst a rowdy crowd at the 9th & Montrose Piazza in Bella Vista and seeing it for yourself.

But just in case you missed long-standing Italian Market Festival tradition this past weekend – called the grease pole competition, for those who don’t know it – never fear: we’ve rounded up some of the best footage, including the video above.  Read more »

How You Should Actually Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Philly

Blue Corn/Facebook

Blue Corn/Facebook

Like many holidays born outside of our country, Cinco de Mayo’s “thing” got lost in translation once it crossed the border. Somehow, what started as a celebration to commemorate the Mexican army’s victory over the French invasion into the city of Puebla, turned into something of a St. Patrick’s Day — an Americanized excuse to load up on tequila shots, chug margaritas and wear sombreros. On numerous occasions, it’s been confused with Mexico’s Independence Day, which actually falls in September.

In Philly, we know better. Right?

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After Two Decades, Anastasi Seafood Finds a New Home in the Italian Market

Anastasi Seafood is a Philadelphia tradition, an Italian Market institution famous for its friendly service and quality seafood market, plus its lovely restaurant and bar with fun happy hour specials and outdoor seating. The family-run operation (over 80 years old) is currently helmed by fourth generation owners Janet Stechman and Salvator Anastasi, a brother and sister team who grew up on 9th Street vending crabs from their living room. Janet claims to know every crack on the 9th Street sidewalk.

The family had two stores — one at 1039 South 9th and the other at 905 South 9th  — before they moved to their current corner location at 1101 South 9th Street in 1996. And after over twenty years selling crabs and shucking oysters from that very corner, Anastasi Seafood will close up shop to make way for an ambitious, five-story mixed-use building featuring 70 apartments, underground parking, and an estimated 18,000 square feet in retail space.

But as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens, and Restaurant Neuf, Joncarl Lachman and Bob Moysan’s French-North African bistro, will close its doors for good this Sunday, April 30th, after brunch service.

Which means there’s a door left open for Janet and Salvator.

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The Utterly Fabulous (and Totally Boring) Life of Laurentius

Laurentius Purnama and his son, Jude. Photograph by Christopher Leaman.

Laurentius Purnama and his son, Jude. Photograph by Christopher Leaman.

It’s 4 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon, and I’m sitting in a butter yellow Queen Village kitchen, watching six-year-old Jude Purnama as he slurps up his after-school snack of bubble tea, a weird milky concoction dotted with gummy-like blobs that he hunts with a spoon. The kitchen, like the rest of the house, is a riot of homey clutter that teeters on messy but lands just this side of lived-in. A bright green credenza teems with tchotchkes; vintage canisters are clustered on the tops of shelves; cabinets are papered with Jude’s artwork. A speaker atop the fridge plays a schizophrenic loop of music: Billy Joel, Lady Gaga, the Beatles, Katy Perry. In the brief interludes between songs, there’s the faint mewing of cats — a trio of them, Spot, Maude and Charlie Chan — who slink through the house and periodically wind around my ankles. Katy Perry belts out her fiery fight anthem, all about rising and roaring, but the whole scene calls to mind a more down-to-earth soundtrack: Our house is a very very very fine house with two cats in the yard. …

Even amidst all this color and clutter and noise, I’m drawn mostly to Jude’s hair, a silky brown mop that crests over his ears and falls just below the nape of his neck. It’s beautiful, in the way most little-kid hair is: shiny and bright, of a shade that women spend hundreds of dollars to get in a salon. It’s the color of a coffee bean, but under the kitchen light, I notice streaks of reddish gold. They’re subtle but unmistakable. “Like lava!” Jude says. I mention how beautiful they are.

“Oh, that’s not all natural. I highlighted his hair! Babylights! It’s a light bayalage, just to give it some dimension,” his dad, Laurentius, says. Jude nods, plucks a gelatinous bubble from his glass, and pops it in his mouth, as if this is all perfectly normal. But in this family, a six-year-old with bayalage highlights that cost more than some people’s rent is normal, because Laurentius is Laurentius Purnama, a 43-year-old former hairstylist to the stars and the owner of one of the most high-end hair salons in Philadelphia, a sleek white-and-glass sanctuary that caters to the city’s most well-known — and well-off — citizens. Read more »

Neuf Celebrates Birthday, Opens for Brunch

Restaurant Neuf

Restaurant Neuf

Sometimes we wonder how a restaurant could possibly improve–and then it opens for brunch.

If you have never started your morning with shakshuka, a middle eastern dish of tomato sauce, poached egg, vegetables and bread for dipping, you have been doing morning incorrectly. On Saturday October 1st, when Neuf opens for brunch in celebration of its one year anniversary, you will have the opportunity to correct this. Or to indulge in some Paris-brest pain perdu (that’s french toast), a number of elaborate omelettes or an open-faced baguette (which are the same in English).

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Jawdropper of the Week: Una Bella Vista in Bella Vista

1101 Washington Ave. #V2, Philadelphia, Pa. 19147 | TREND Images via BHHS Fox & Roach

1101 Washington Ave. #V2, Philadelphia, Pa. 19147 | TREND Images via BHHS Fox & Roach

Looking to rise above it all?

You can go higher than this, but you won’t have a view as all-encompassing as the one from the roof deck of this ultra-modern, ultra-stylish bi-level penthouse at 11th Street and Washington Avenue.

That roof deck, by the way, is one of three levels of outdoor space this unit contains. With a total of 1,100 square feet of terraces and decks, including a wraparound terrace on the main floor with beautiful views to the east and south, this apartment has more outdoor space than some luxury units have indoors.

And what this condo on the Lofts at Bella Vista’s “Villa level” has indoors is also very nice indeed. Read more »

The Gritty Italian Market Wants That Center City Sparkle

Photo credit: User Josepha via Flickr

Photo credit: User Josepha via Flickr

Business owners in the Italian Market have been talking about cleaning up the place for years, and now they seem to have landed on a solution.

Earlier this month, City Councilman Mark Squilla introduced a resolution authorizing a hearing on a Business Improvement District for the area surrounding the storied 9th Street market. BIDs, such as the well-known Center City District, levy an extra tax assessment on commercial properties in order to fund services that business owners want. In this case, according to the preliminary plan that was attached to Squilla’s resolution, the 9th Street Area BID would pay for street- and sidewalk-cleaning crews, a parking inventory, marketing, and additional lighting and security cameras. Read more »

Rain or Shine, These Festivals Are Happening

Italian Market Festival will go on all weekend | M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

Italian Market Festival will go on all weekend | M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

We were pretty excited when we put together our compilation of May festivals, and then May happened. It’s been gray skies for much of the month with a good amount of rain mixed in (you know, except for today). And now we’re at the final pre-Memorial Day weekend and the fear-mongering weather people are predicting more rain. But if you’re like me, you’re like, “whatevs, It’s my weekend and I’ll party if I want to, weather be damned. So it’s good to know that at least some of the weekend’s outdoor events are happening regardless.

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Field Guide: Spring’s Best Food and Drink Festivals in Philadelphia

The Rittenhouse Row Festival |Photo via Rittenhouse Row

The Rittenhouse Row Festival |Photo via Rittenhouse Row

It’s officially May in Philadelphia, and that means we’re about to embark on a month with a summer’s worth of festivals crammed into the three weekends before Memorial Day weekend. For the eaters and drinkers among us, there’s no shortage of beer festivals, cider fests, Kentucky derby block parties and — wait for it — even a goat race. Happy spring, Philly.

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