It’s Spooky Season and ‘Wawa Has Pizza’ Is Starting to Sound Like a Threat

Plus, guess who’s got 4,000 bottles of rare whiskey they’re looking to unload? And how much gelato and doughnuts is too much?

wawa pizza

Wawa pizza is more of a trick than a treat. / Photograph by Laura Swartz

Happy Monday, everyone, and welcome back to the weekly Foobooz News Round-Up. The holiday season is drawing perilously close. That means things in the restaurant industry can get a little weird. So let’s just take a quick look at everything happening in Philly’s food scene right now. We’ll begin with …

It’s Spooky Season and ‘Wawa Has Pizza’ Is Starting to Sound Like a Threat

Wawa pizza isn’t going so great, guys. And it doesn’t help that a particular Delco Wawa has incorporated the new offering into its Halloween decorations. “Wawa has pizza” hits different when it’s wrapped around a menacingly cheerful skeleton.

Skeleton Steve really wants us to know that Wawa has pizza. / Photograph by Laura Swartz

Meanwhile, the Inquirer conducted a taste test of Wawa pizza with five students from Science Leadership Academy. “The pizza tasted burnt at first, but the pepperoni kept me there the whole ride,” said 17-year-old Cianney Saunders. Her assessment was one amongst those ranging from “good party pizza” to “it tastes significantly better than I thought it would.” So … yay?

The Part Where the New York Times Tells Us Where to Eat in Philly

Okay, so not really. I get that they’re putting together these “25 Best” lists for all kinds of different cities. And they’re pushing them out to their readers who may be visiting an unfamiliar place for the first time.

But regardless, the Philadelphia edition of the NYT’s 25 Best dropped early Monday morning and it’s a pretty good list. It’s arranged alphabetically. So there’s really no best-of-the-best-25 to argue over. But I like that it made space for places like Doro Bet, Hardena, South Philly Barbacoa and Angelo’s among the more traditional picks Vedge, Zahav and Suraya. Part of this was no doubt due to the fact that Philly mag’s own Regan Stephens has her fingers all over this list. And Regan knows what she’s talking about when it comes to Philly’s food scene. But it’s also a measure of just how good we have it here in Philly right now.

Angelo’s pizza / Photograph by Ian Shiver

I don’t want to turn this into anything more than it is. But the fact that a small, family-run, South Philly pizzeria with zero seating and lines down the block deservedly made the list while a ton of other, more pedigreed spots did not shows you that the floor for excellence here is ridiculously high. El Chingon and Gabriella’s Vietnam hold their own against Beard Awards darling Friday Saturday Sunday. And both Mawn AND Tabachoy earned places for rough, gutsy, completely unique and extremely biographical menus that you won’t find anywhere else in America right now.

Anyway, check the list out if you want. Or wait for our own 50 Best Restaurants list coming in February. But either way, take a moment to think about how lucky we are to be living (and dining) through this ridiculously rich and broad culinary renaissance that Philly is going through right now. If you care about food, there is no better place to be right now. And, I would argue, no better time to be eating your way through Philadelphia.

I’m pretty sure the New York Times would agree with me.

Moving on …

4,429 Bottles of Rare Whiskey

There’s just one bottle of this one up for grabs, so best of luck.

Yes, that is a lot of liquor. And, essentially, it’s the prize — or at least the point — of the new PLCB Limited Release Lottery. Entry is open to all Pennsylvania liquor license holders and all residents.

I know! We were surprised, too. But all you need to throw your hat into the ring for this lottery is a valid PA address, an account with Fine Wine & Good Spirits with payment information on file, and the legit address of a FW&GS store where their bottles can be delivered. And that’s it. Basically, anyone over the age of 21 who lives in the state can enter for a chance to buy one (yeah, just one) bottle from a list of rare, top-shelf whiskies. The deadline to enter is this Friday at 5 p.m.

The whiskeys that are part of the lottery are as follows: Blanton’s Gold Straight Bourbon at $120; Blanton’s Straight from the Barrel Bourbon at $150; Eagle Rare Straight Bourbon 17 Year Old 2022 Release at $110; Heaven Hill Heritage Collection Straight Corn Whiskey 20 Year Old 2023 Edition at $290; Russell’s Reserve Straight Bourbon 13 Year Old Barrel Proof at $150; and Stagg Straight Bourbon Barrel Proof at $55.

So that’s the game. If you’re in, you gotta get yourself registered for the lottery (which you can do right here) and make sure you have an account with FW&GS (which you can set up here). So go on and throw your name in the hat, my boozy friends.

And may the odds be ever in your favor.

The Best Doughnut News You’ll Hear All Week

Dottie’s Donuts /  Photograph courtesy of Dottie’s

How many indie doughnut shops is too many?

That was a trick question. There is no number of indie doughnut shops that would be too many. Seriously, you could take every single address on my block, turn them all into doughnut shops, and I would STILL celebrate the opening of a new one on the next block over.

Which is why it’s cool to be able to tell you that the fourth location of Dottie’s Donuts is getting ready to open soon at 1764 Frankford Avenue in Fishtown. And I say “soon” because with the way things are in the restaurant world right now — with delays and shipping backlogs and supply-chain issues still plaguing owners — no one sets a hard opening date until they absolutely have to.

Still, maybe mid-November-ish? That’s what I’m hearing. According to Instagram, partners Matt Quinn and Jeff Poleon are saying early fall, regardless. Which is just fine by me.

Dottie’s is an all-vegan doughnut shop — which makes sense, considering Quinn and Poleon came up with the idea while working at notable vegan outpost, Blackbird Pizzeria. But they swing big in the kitchen, rolling out all the classics and a constant stream of specials like doughnuts topped with Rice Krispies treats or caramel-pumpkin miso to kick off the run-up to Halloween.

So you get why I’m so happy about this expansion, right? Dottie’s opened originally in Spruce Hill way back in 2014. They’ve since expanded to 6th and Lombard in Queen Village and Rochelle Avenue in Wissahickon. And this new one, right in the heart of Fishtown in a former bakery and coffee shop, is looking to bring that same energy — and those same vegan treats — to a whole new neighborhood. Which is nothing but good news.

New Gelato Cafe Opens in Rittenhouse … Next to Another Cafe With Gelato?

Over the weekend, a new cafe-slash-gelateria quietly opened on 17th Street near Latimer. Vita offers handmade gelato, pastries and coffee in the spot formerly occupied by Branzino. It looks great, though we are a bit confused at their choice of location: right next-door to Bottega, which opened on 17th last year and is an Italian cafe that serves sandwiches, coffee, and … pastries and gelato. Oops. Who are we to argue with an abundance of gelato, though?

The Leftovers

Photograph courtesy of Townsend EPX

Townsend EPX, chef Townsend Wentz’s very French-y joint on East Passyunk, recently launched a new kitchen schedule that leans heavy into late-night dining. Wednesday through Sunday, the bar is open ‘til 2 a.m., but on Saturday nights, the kitchen is now serving until 1 a.m. There’s a special menu. It’s all beef tartare and oysters, baby squash with shaved ham and hollandaise and crab and corn tortellini, and it looks pretty good. So, for all you vampires out there, this is very good news.

Speaking of EPX, on Wednesday, October 25th, there’s going to be a “Witches of East Passyunk Bar Crawl” which is offering a bunch of pay-as-you-go food and booze from East Passyunk restaurants and an optional choose-your-own-adventure themed treasure hunt. Crawlers are meeting at 5 p.m. at 1904 East Passyunk. That’s where they’ll be handing out maps. See more spooky-season events and Halloween pop-up bars here.

Forsythia has a brand-new happy hour. They’re running it from 5 to 7 p.m., Wednesdays through Fridays, and on Sundays, too. They’ve got a classic cocktail menu, seasonal drinks, a punch of the day and plenty of French wine. But really, this is all being rolled out in advance of a pretty big schedule change. Starting Monday, November 6th, Forsythia will start serving seven nights a week — which will include two additional happy hours on Monday and Tuesday.

And finally this week, the Inky is reporting that food service employees at two restaurants operating at the Philadelphia airport have voted to authorize a strike should their negotiators find it necessary.

Employees at two restaurants owned by OTG — Independence Prime and Local Tavern — voted for the strike authorization on Friday. Right now, both sides are negotiating, but members of Unite Here Local 274 claim that they’ve been working without a contract for years, and that after four years of negotiating, an agreement was reached in June of 2022. To this day, OTG has yet to implement the changes to the contract the union voted to accept, so now they’re looking at a possible strike — right during one of the busiest travel seasons of the year.

The Inquirer talked to both sides and, right now, the whole thing seems very messy. Check out the whole story here.