The Gastronaut: It Gets Better

MO-gastronaut-032015-400-kagan-mcleodI was at Aldine for dinner on opening night, and it was awful.

Of all the dishes set before me, I only found two of them appetizing enough to finish, and with another one, I had to pull the old Oh look, some of it fell on the floor trick just to make it appear as though I’d taken more than one bite.

But it’s okay. Don’t worry. Aldine got better.

I ate at Sbraga years ago, shortly after it opened. It was one of the most talked-about restaurants in the city, but not all the talk was good. And, frankly, neither was dinner. It was gimmicky, too clever, muddled in a way that I think was supposed to feel casual and fun but didn’t.

But Sbraga got better, too. Read more »

The Revisit: Serpico

Serpico photo courtesy the anagramatic Mike Persico

Serpico photo courtesy of the anagramatic Mike Persico

There’s only so much a clean bathroom can tell you about a restaurant, but every now and then they speak volumes.

To face the poster of Olivia Newton-John wearing her “Physical” gear in the Juniper Commons men’s room is to know, conclusively, that there’s no escaping the 1980s there. The inexplicably unflattering powder-room lighting at the late, unlamented Avance — which had inherited perfectly good illumination from Le Bec-Fin — encapsulated the misguided priorities that sank the place. Even the community chalkboards lining Crow & The Pitcher’s facilities testify to that restaurant’s yearning to be adopted by a neighborhood that’s never really rallied behind a tenant at that address. (And where else but Miami Beach could have a setup like this?) Read more »

Travel + Leisure Calls Philadelphia “America’s Next Great Food City”

So Philadelphia, it seems, is having something of a moment.

There was the Bon Appetit piece on Reading Terminal Market. There was the New York Times naming Philly as one of the “52 Places To Go In 2015,” and putting us third on the list behind Milan and Cuba–which means, yes, first in the United States.

Now, Travel + Leisure has just come out with their list of the best new restaurants in the world, and has given Philly a page, noting, “This unsung destination has blossomed into one of the U.S.’s most exciting restaurant cities—Portland East?—with a fierce indie spirit and world-class kitchen talent.”

Nice, right? Local names given a specific shout-out include Serpico, Michael Solomonov (Zahav and FedNuts, sure, but more lovingly Abe Fisher and Dizengoff), and both Fork and High Street On Market which gets the closing line, reading, “The artisanal breads and the caraway-rye rigatoni with pastrami ragù are reasons alone to go to Philly.”

So we’re awesome is the point here. At least for today. But in the immortal words of the legendary Dirk Diggler, “We can always do better. I’m gonna keep trying if you guys keep trying. Let’s keep rocking and rolling, man!”

Hell, yeah.

Travel + Leisure – Best New Restaurants [Official]

Photo courtesy High Street On Market’s twitter

Spend Christmas Eve with Serpico

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Photo by Mike Persico

Serpico has been promoting his $65 family-style Christmas Eve dinner on social media but until now hasn’t shared the menu. If you’re interested in a dinner that certainly isn’t the feast of seven fishes or have an out-of-town friend coming to town, that you want to impress, this might be the dinner for you.

Full menu »

Citywides At Serpico, Plus Ramen On A Cold Day

Number one, this is a great deal. Number two, it’s awesome that it’s coming from a place like Serpico because it’s exactly the kind of thing that might get more people into Serpico who wouldn’t otherwise give the place a shot. Number three, while gimmicky Citywide-type-objects (and particularly those that cost more than a few bucks) are not generally my cup of tea (or Jim Beam), this one, especially with its ramen kicker, seems like a pretty sweet way to get folks through the door on a cold Wednesday night.

Serpico [Twitter]

New Menu At Serpico

SerpicoMenu2

Peter Serpico just tweeted out this snap of the newest menu at Serpico on South Street. There are some classics on there (the corn ravioli, the lamb ribs), but I like seeing those two kinds of ramen. And the $9 pig’s head? That alone is enough to make me want to get back for another dinner. It’s been too long.

Serpico is also saying that they’re doing five specials tonight. And there’s always the tasting menu, too.

Serpico [f8b8z]

Gastronaut: We Like to Watch

gastronaut-september-kagan-mcleodWhen Serpico first opened on South Street, one of the main draws was the big, open kitchen and the man himself — Peter Serpico, late of the famous Momofuku empire, standing right there making dinner for you. The most popular seats in the house were the ones snugged right up against the counter behind which Serpico did his work.

Zahav has never wanted for trade, but when Michael Solomonov started running his Kitchen Counter dinners, people went bonkers. Fork’s cooks work right out in the open, filling the dining room with excitement that goes far beyond the drama of plates being walked across the floor. Petruce et al., Vernick, Cheu — they all let you sit within poking distance of the cooks. At Volvér, the kitchen isn’t just open to view; it’s integral to the layout of the dining room. Customers are told (repeatedly) to go up to the pass and watch the chefs working. To ask questions.

Read more »

High Street On Market And Serpico Named Among The 50 Best New Restaurants In America

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This morning, Bon Appetit released their big list of the 50 Best New Restaurants In America. And man, it is one hell of a list. We’re talking Blackbird Chinese in Miami, Lusca and Kevin Gillespie’s Gunshow in Atlanta, Hot Joy in San Antonio, Chicago’s Mott Street, Odd Duck in Austin, Q in L.A., and so many more.

Philly made a game of it, too, with not just one of our best tagged by Andrew Knowlton and his team, but twoEli Kulp’s High Street On Market and Peter Serpico’s Serpico on South Street. You guys can all start arguing now about whether or not these are the two best new restaurants that have opened in Philly in the past year, who should’ve really gotten the nod and whether its weird that both of our nominees came to our fair city from New York, but I think we can all agree that High Street and Serpico are certainly among the best of a strong crop.

This list of 50 will be winnowed down to 10 big winners over the next couple weeks. But you can check out the full list/slideshow right now over at Bon Appetit and start arranging your bucket list for the next year.

America’s 50 Best New Restaurants [Bon Ap]

DIY Down the Shore: Peter Serpico’s Grilled Sesame Shrimp

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It’s been a long day at the beach and you’re craving seafood. Something simple, but which will still impress whoever you’re serving. Which is exactly why this recipe is perfect.

Peter Serpico of South Street’s Serpico has you covered with his grilled sesame shrimp with corn and tomatoes. It’s a surefire crowd-pleaser, and a dish even those inexperienced in the kitchen can tackle. So take advantage of the ocean’s bounty and take this recipe with you the next time you go down the shore.

Read more »

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