Now in Its Fullest Form, Eeva Is the Restaurant It Was Always Destined to Be
Eeva, a Kensington bakery/pizzeria/restaurant/wine shop, opened during the pandemic as the takeout-friendly version of what it is today. And what it is today is a full-service restaurant that's firing on all cylinders.
Have you been to Eeva yet? It’s fine if you haven’t. The world and everything in it has made going out to a restaurant like tap-dancing in a minefield. Masks, vaccines, indoors, outdoors. Dining (or not dining) has become a political act, a statement of ethics, a hundred things it was never supposed to be.
But, you know … have you? It’s the not-so-little pizza joint and kinda-bar opened by the team at ReAnimator Coffee Roasters. The plan for Eeva was conceived back in the Before Times, executed in the middle of the pandemic’s second wave, shaken out during this winter of our most recent discontent. Short menu. Interesting wine. A kitchen blooded by lack and disruption. Eeva is a restaurant born of our times, of this particularly strange and challenging moment in our collective history. It is a takeout spot, a retail bakery, a delivery operation, and a full-blown sit-down-and-eat restaurant. It is, in short, anything you need it to be.
If you haven’t been there, know that it is beautiful. All raw brick, white walls, polished wood, high ceilings and gentle lights. There are these wood-slat banquettes that look ridiculously uncomfortable but are, in fact, slanted back at an angle that almost demands lounging. It is, in so many ways, a kind of proof-of-concept experiment in modern restaurant minimalism. There are a half-dozen pizzas, a boutique wine list that bends toward the natural and the unique, a handful of small plates: some olives, freshly made ricotta laced with lemon zest and served with chewy focaccia soaked in olive oil. That’s all.
But this built-in simplicity breeds mindfulness. It gives chef Greg Dunn and his crew the freedom to care deeply about everything on the board. The wood-fired pizza oven in the kitchen turns out beautifully light and chewy leavened crusts in a style that’s like Neapolitan without the manifesto. On top, there’s sweet, smooth sauce for the margherita, and a double-sweet version (along with blobs of mozz and some spicy salami) on the Salami Picante, touched with a lace of local honey. Over the summer, there were wild one-off specials: a pie with aged and fresh mozzarella, basil, garlic, olive oil, prosciutto and fresh peaches; a chunky tomato salad with Jersey blackberries and herbed yogurt. But the white pie remains my favorite. The crust — its crunch at the bone, its char underneath — offsets the soft house stracciatella, the mozz and grana and fontina, the fennel cream and final sting of garlic. Each bite is a half-dozen milky, soft, smooth, comforting flavors. It smells like an Italian campfire. It’s wonderful.
So if you haven’t been to Eeva yet, go. Eat there. Order takeout. On the weekends, there are breads and baked goods from that big woodburning oven. And all of it is sleek, considered, and built for the future of Philadelphia’s dining scene.
Whatever that might look like.
3 Stars — Come from anywhere in the region
0 stars: stay away
★: come if you have no other options
★★: come if you’re in the neighborhood
★★★: come from anywhere in the region
★★★★: come from anywhere in the country
Published as “Built for This” in the October 2021 issue of Philadelphia magazine.