From the Editor: August 2007

It has recently come to my attention that some on my staff make fun of me. They do this in many different ways, apparently, but mostly they like to throw around in my presence the buzzwords that I guess I use ad nauseam. They get these little smirks on their faces when they work words like “zeitgeist,” “essential,” “writerly,” “voyeuristic” and, especially, “authoritative” into our conversations.

Well, I’ve never been one to back down from ridicule. In fact, I embrace my inner ridiculousness. So, to my staff: Congratulations. You’ve come up with an utterly essential, authoritative Best of Philly issue.

In fact, you’ll notice there are no other cover lines on this month’s cover, and we don’t explain Best of Philly in any way whatsoever. That’s because it needs no further explanation. It’s our 34th year bringing you this annual issue (along with our sister publication, Boston magazine, we invented the Best Of format), and unlike many of the pretenders who have come and gone through the years, our version has always been authoritative and credible because of our investment in it. (And because of our independence; contrary to popular cynicism, we aren’t influenced by who advertises in the magazine, as evidenced by the complaints I receive from advertisers who don’t win.) We don’t just try to reflect your world and tell you what you like; instead, we try to influence your world, by spending all year combing the region in order to tell you what you should like.

This year’s list marks a return to our most basic categories — everything from pizza and cheese-steaks to shoe shine and boutiques. But there are also terrific “finds” in these pages, the product of months of reporting. To wit: Even though I’m not at all into kids and all the parenting crap my friends are so obsessed with, Will-n-Essie’s Toybrary from the Kids section is an amazing discovery: For $50 a year, parents can borrow toys for up to two weeks for their kids. How did no one come up with that idea before? And while our winners in the Food & Drink category cover all the usual bases, there are new gems unearthed, like the lemonade at the Navy Yard’s Frog at the Yard, which food editor (and, along with Jessica Blatt, co-Best of Philly editor) April White loves so much, we’re offering the recipe on our website.

Finally, we’ve added a glued-in Best of Philly Little Black Book this year, a portable rundown of every winner with our ­authoritative — there’s that word again — insider tips added. (Who knew? Suburban boutique owner Diane Beloff will make house calls; diners at West Chester’s Gilmore’s Restaurant’s 8:30 weekday BYOB seating get a complimentary glass of champagne). So rip it out, take it with you, and have us in your ear — like a passionate, sometimes obnoxious friend — wherever you go.

The comeback of Pete Musser (page 110) is a quintessentially Philly story; senior writer Amy Donohue Korman paints a portrait of a tycoon who — at 80 — has figured out not just survival in business, but how to live. For those of us often tempted to lose sight of the big picture and what really matters in life, Korman’s piece is essential (another one of those words!) reading. Also in these pages, read about someone who’s not quite as serene as Pete Musser: Comcast SportsNet’s Michael Barkann (page 114) is a wild and crazy guy, and he’s helped his TV station change the way we learn about sports in Philadelphia.

Finally, this issue marks the final reviews penned by our longtime restaurant critic, Maria Gallagher. Maria is a real pro, and she’ll be greatly missed. We’ll be introducing new reviewers in the coming months.