The Pope’s Ex-Cook At La Veranda

You might say that the new executive chef at La Veranda (the indoor/outdoor Northern Italian spot overlooking the water at Pier 3 in Penn’s Landing), is blessed–or at least good enough to cook for the pope. Now in his second Philadelphia kitchen (the first was as executive chef at the now-closed Apollinare), Luca Bizzarri spent several years in the Vatican kitchens, leaving after a turn as an executive sous chef. According to press materials, the Italian native “pleased guests and His Holiness with Italian delicacies using fine ingredients such as truffles and oysters.”

Weirdly, Bizzarri is not the only Philly chef with papal ties. Remember a couple years ago when Colleen McAvaddy, chef at the Irish Pub, got to cook for the Pope?

Brought in to oversee Le Veranda’s kitchen operations as it celebrates its 25th year and its renewed ownership by the Petrogiannis Brothers (who own a multitude of diners in the region including the Melrose), Bizzarri prepares seasonal Italian specialties enlivened by his love of French technique. The restaurant, which has a killer cocktail menu and two waterfront terraces on which to enjoy them, makes its own pasta, bakes its breads in a brick oven and fires up its signature 28-ounce porterhouse on a wood-burning grille.

There’s just one problem: if the Pope comes to visit, will the authorities make an exception and let him park his popemobile near the restaurant at the notoriously parking-deficient Penn’s Landing, or will he have to park 17 blocks away like the rest of us?

La Veranda [Official website]