Looking Back: The Best (and Worst) Restaurants of 2016, Part 1

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2016 was a big year in Philly’s restaurant community. We saw the openings of some of the best restaurants in the city–and a couple of the worst. We saw a continued revision of the city’s signature style–this kind of casual-local, over-educated, multiply-influenced neighborhood-level version of new New American that is unique to Philadelphia–and saw a kind of ennui settling into the heart of its cuisine. Fine dining took a few more body blows. Fast-casual continued to boom in a huge way. Our chefs expanded outside the bounds of the city and suburbs as Philly became a national force in cuisine, and we saw some big time national restaurateurs looking at Philly with hungry eyes and wondering what THEY could do here.

So yeah, it was an important year. A formative one. And Foobooz and Philadelphia magazine were there for all of it. This week, we’re looking back at some of the biggest names and biggest moments of the year gone by, and where better to begin than with the most important restaurants of the year?

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The Menu: Here’s What You’ll Be Eating For Lunch At Tredici

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Yesterday, we told you that Tredici Enoteca had quietly launched a new lunch service on Monday. The menu was supposed to be a combination of favorites off the dinner board, plus a few little extras thrown together by the kitchen just for those who make it in early enough.

Come to find, that was both true and an understatement. Tredici basically put all of their greatest hits (the Israeli couscous salad, the spinach gnocchi, the fried goat cheese) on offer at lunchtime and then rounded things out with a whole new list of sandwiches. And since a copy of the new menu showed up in my inbox last night, now you can see for yourself.

Show me the menu

Tredici Is Now Serving Lunch

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I was a pretty big fan of Tredici Enoteca when I reviewed it a few months back. And I continued to like the place even after the review was done (which is by no means a sure thing).

But one of the few things I never understood about the place was why it didn’t serve lunch. It just seemed like a lock–a natural thing for a place that already does small plates and snacks and half-pours of wine, in a neighborhood with dense foot traffic and plenty of hungry people. Yes, they added on a brunch service in April, but that’s not really the same thing, is it?

So imagine how happy I was when I got the news this morning that Tredici had (quietly) rolled out a daily lunch service on Monday, October 24.

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So Have You Eaten There Yet?

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We have a wall at the office entirely given over to a Post-It Note snapshot of everything happening in the Philly restaurant world at this given moment. Hundreds of yellow squares, on which are written the names of restaurants, initials, arrows and mysterious heiroglyphs that only Art and I (and mostly I) can understand.

The Post-Its move. Get grouped, get broken up. The restaurants we love and the restaurants we hate are all represented (in wildly unequal numbers). Restaurants that are coming–addresses chosen, opening dates optimistically scheduled–have their own space, as do established and open restaurants whose reviews are in the works. Lately, that particular section of wall has been growing crowded. There are just so many goddamn restaurants coming (it’s spring, that happens) that it feels overwhelming.

So with six months of (mostly) weekly reviews behind me, and dozens of new openings incoming, I figured this might be a good time to look back and highlight the best moments of the past six months–places that you might’ve missed, places that you really ought to get to (if you haven’t already) before the lure of new-new restaurants becomes too overpowering.

So let’s start with…

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A Small World After All: Tredici Enoteca Reviewed

Tredici | Photo by Emily Teel

Tredici | Photo by Emily Teel

From the outside, the light spilling from Tredici’s windows was cool and white, and the glass appeared to be sweating. We could see the crowd—at the bar, clustering around the host’s stand, jamming all the tables. Inside, it was a wall of noise, like stepping into the middle of a party that’s been going on without you for a good long time. To speak to the hostess working the stand, I had to lean over and talk almost directly in her ear.

We were lucky. We snagged the only open table on the floor—an odd corner spot that was all banquette, past the curve where the front room’s bar ends and the counter seating and seats in front of the raw bar begin. The two of us could sprawl across room enough for three. Spread out. Get comfortable.

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First Look: Tredici

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The folks behind Zavino have officially opened the doors of their third restaurant and this time they’re moving past their pizza and wine concept. Tredici (say it with me: tray-dee-chee), which means thirteen in Italian, is located on 13th street at Sansom, just across from their original space. While Zavino is dark reds and browns, Tredici is all grown up in blonde and gray and gold. The space is luxe, people. A herringbone-patterned floor, brass fixtures, and a cool marble bar make for a restaurant that feels old-world and not like a Midtown Village newcomer at all.

Want to take a look inside?

Opening Tonight: Tredici Enoteca

tredici-enotecaTonight, the owners of Zavino in Midtown Village and University City debut the opening of another restaurant right across the street.

Greg Dodge of Zavino Hospitality Group introduces Tredici Enoteca at 13th and Sansom Streets, across from its sister restaurant. The Enoteca, which means “wine repository,” will serve Mediterranean-style cuisine with a focus on an affordable and diverse Italian wine bar.

The drink selection provides premium wines by the bottle, glass, or through the cruvient, a six-bottle preserving system at the bar. Similar to a draft system, the wines will be kept fresh, temperature controlled and served by the glass.

Opening menus and more »