OPINION: Let’s Make History and Abolish Columbus Day in Philly

When news broke last month that Los Angeles was joining Seattle and Denver in removing Columbus Day from its city calendar, I looked to see what my city’s plans were in regards to the holiday. Answer: Nothing.

As the city continues debating the future of the Frank Rizzo statue (because some folks are still not convinced that Rizzo was that bad of a guy), I would hope that by now most of us can agree that Christopher Columbus isn’t worthy of recognition. Read more »

Vote for Best of Philly: What’s Your Favorite Italian Restaurant?

Best New Italian restaurant 2016 winner: A Mano/Facebook

Best New Italian restaurant 2016 winner: A Mano/Facebook

When it comes to Italian restaurants in this city, we have an embarrassment of riches. From the old-school red gravy houses of South Philly to the authentic, modern, and trendsetting eateries dotted throughout the region, Philadelphia has become a destination-city for pasta-twirlers ‘round the world.

Every year, we pluck one restaurant from the crowd and designate it the city’s best for our annual Best of Philly issue. This year, however, we’re leaving it up to you.

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Alpha And Omega: Scarpetta Reviewed

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Photo courtesy Briana Louise Photography

Along the arc of a graph reading “Why Is My Restaurant Not Good?,” two opposite mistakes hold down either end of the bell curve. On one side, you have a good concept crippled by poor execution. On the other are bad ideas masked by a talented, passionate crew trying like hell to fight its way out of a losing situation. Between these two points falls every other reason for a restaurant to go bad: terrible food, awful service, a coked-up owner snorting away the profits, rats, that weird smell, location, location, location. But existing with beautiful, snow-white purity are the alpha and omega of reasons: Either you had a good idea ruined by thumb-fingered losers who turn all gold to crap, or you had a bad concept that no amount of earnest polishing will ever make shine.

The first one? That’s unforgivable. And the second one is Scarpetta.

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Hungry Pigeon Offering a Lasagna Family Dinner

hungry pigeon sign 940Scott Schroeder and the Hungry Pigeon team are kicking off a series of family dinners. The idea is to do meticulous versions of comfort food for parties of 4 to 14. And the initial dinner is built around lasagna and is being offered now through Saturday, December 10th.

The dinner is $40 per person and in addition to the main course of lasagna, which is made with housemade pasta and Country Time Farm pork, it isaccompanied by Hungry Pigeon’s own prosciutto, baked oysters, roasted brussel sprouts and much more. Schroeder tells us that each dinner will come with an optional drink pairing. In this case, three “cool wines” for $30. In addition to finding 3 friends, you also have to give the restaurant 24-hours notice to prepare the Family dinner.

Schroeder is planning lots of warming dinners through the winter and wants to continue the specials through the summer, when things like a lobster boil will be on the calendar.

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Scarpetta Launches Happy Hour on Rittenhouse Square

Scarpetta offers half-priced cocktails, wine and beer for happy hour.

Scarpetta offers half-priced cocktails, wine and beer for happy hour.

The lounge at the still brand new Scarpetta inside the Rittenhouse Hotel has begun happy hour and it offers 50% off all beer, cocktails and wines by the glass. There is also a bar menu of plates and crostini ranging from $5 to $14.

The cocktails include classics and newfangled concoctions that will rotate seasonally. Look for some holiday cocktails in the next few weeks.

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Pat’s Steaks Is Serving White Truffle Cheesesteak

White Truffles descend on Pat's Steaks | Photo Illustration by Arthur Etchells

White Truffles descend on Pat’s Steaks | Photo Illustration by Arthur Etchells

Pat’s King of Steaks is offering an Alba White Truffle Cheesesteak on Thursday, November 17th, starting at 12:30 p.m. The $20 highfalutin take on the cheesesteak is the result of this past weekend’s White Truffle Charity Auction that took place at the Union League in Philadelphia. Pat’s owner, Frank Olivieri, purchased a truffle for $2,500 to support the National Italian American Foundation.

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Scarpetta Does Lunch

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Starting on Monday, November 14, Philly’s Scarpetta will become the first location in the group to offer lunch. So why this break from tradition?

Location, location, location…

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Here’s What You’ll Be Eating (And Drinking) At 24, Jose Garces’s New Restaurant

24 garces wood fired fare 400

We’ve been waiting quite a while for Jose Garces and his team to open 24–the new “Wood Fired Fare” restaurant set beneath his new headquarters at 2401 Walnut Street. First rumored like a year ago, we’ve been walking by and peeking in the windows since February, theorizing about what his team would be doing with the dedicated R&D test kitchen attached to the space, and wondering how he would utilize those big ovens.

So now, finally, we know. Dinner service (and happy hour) starts on  Tuesday, November 8th–the official opening. Breakfast, lunch and coffee service will roll out on Saturday, November 12. We’ve got copies of the lunch, dinner and cocktail menus for you to take a look at in the meantime.

Couple other cool things? They’re going to be running a happy hour called “Aperitivo Time” daily from 4:30-6:30. There’ll be drink specials, snacks and complimentary small plates. Dinner service runs until 11pm on the weekends. And there’s going to be a kid’s menu at dinner, too, which, for a certain segment of the audience, is very good news.

And as for that test kitchen? It has actually been up and running for months now, with Garces’s team using it to test out everything from pizza dough to pasta sauces. There was early talk of it being opened (at least occasionally) to the public as a kind of peek behind the curtain as new recipes and designs are tested for concepts throughout the Garces empire, and it looks like that plan might actually happen. According to the press release, Estudio (which is what they’re calling it) will be “introducing public tasting events, cooking classes and other events” to be held in the attached, 20-seat dining room. The space is also available for private events.

Okay, now show me the menus

BarOne: A South Philly Family’s Bar

barone-940The fifth generation of the family who brought you Ralph’s now brings you a casual Italian bar and eatery across the street from the South Philly institution. Siblings Ryan and Gabrielle Rubino, managers of the family restaurants, present BarOne, whose grand opening is set for Friday October 21st.

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Scarpetta Opening at the Rittenhouse on September 28

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A couple days ago, we rolled out our Fall Restaurant Preview. In it, we talked about the opening of Scarpetta–the fancy-pants, double-decker modern Italian restaurant coming to the former Smith & Wollensky space at the Rittenhouse Hotel–and said that it was looking to open “in a couple weeks.”

Turns out, our estimate was right on. Because we just got word today that after some test dinners and a full run of friends and family services, Scarpetta will be opening to the public on September 28.

But wait, there’s more…

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