Speaking of Italian food: This weekend is the Italian Market Festival.
But first. A quiz: Critic Craig LaBan has been making the rounds lately with his dog, Buttercup. (No, she doesn’t go incognito, too.)
Guess her breed:
A) standard poodle
B) Norwegian elkhound
C) Great Dane mix rescue
Click for the answer and to read her first Inquirer review.
Philly’s 14 best dog-friendly restaurants
The pandemic has put outdoor dining into sharper focus, and where there is outdoor seating, there are dogs curled up at their owners’ feet. Take Buttercup LaBan, the pooch owned by critic Craig LaBan et famille. ”As long as there’s a bowl of fresh, cool water and a welcoming staff, she’s thrilled to keep us company rather than stress out alone at home,” writes Craig, who shares 14 of her favorite spots around the city.
Bark Social will combine coffee shop, bar, and dog park
More for dog lovers: Bark Social is a coffee house, a sports bar-restaurant, a dog park, and a retail store with locations in Bethesda and Baltimore. It’s headed to Manayunk later this year. Imagine having all that under one woof.
The best Italian food in Philly, according to Hoagie Dom
In search of great Italian food? Same here. We called upon Dominic Rocconi, a dude of exacting tastes, as anyone who has sampled his “Hoagie Dom” sandwich pop-ups can attest. He shares his favorite pasta, cannoli, gelato, Italian cocktails, and more with my colleague Jillian Wilson. This roast pork sandwich, by the way, is from Porcos on Washington Avenue. Says Rocconi: “The beauty of porchetta lies in its simplicity.”
What to expect at the 2022 Italian Market Festival
After a pandemic hiatus, the Italian Market Festival is back. There will be more than 40 spots to grab food, as well as alcoholic (Peroni, anyone?) and nonalcoholic drinks. It’s a great time to try Italian favorites from market mainstays: Expect Cappucio’s to be grilling sausages outside, Isgros to have cannoli, and Talluto’s to serve up macaroni and meatballs, reports colleague Michelle Myers. The Italian Market Festival will be held rain or shine on Ninth Street — from Wharton to Fitzwater Streets — on May 21 and 22 between 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. — here’s what you need to know.
Spring produce: Get it while it’s fresh
Spring in the Philadelphia area brings a short window of tasty crops, reports contributor Nick DeSimone. You fans of chives, mint, alfalfa sprouts, watercress, radishes, peas, lettuces, and asparagus are in for a treat shortly. We’ll show you what to look for at the market, and how to serve it.
Felicia Wilson is a social worker who opened three day-care centers along the way. But at 44, she’s following her love of food into the restaurant business.
May 18 marks the debut of Amina, her lounge-restaurant 104 Chestnut St. in Old City, with a bold-gold interior inspired by an ancient warrior goddess of Nigeria. (We old-timers will remember the spot as the Mexican Post.)
Wilson, who lives in Cheltenham with husband Shawn Bell and their four children, brought in Darryl Harmon, a former longtime chef at the Water Works, to do a Southern menu (braised oxtails topped with morel mushroom demi; a gumbo of Anson Mills Carolina Gold rice, shrimp, crab, oysters, chicken wings; and spicy chicken sausage, and shrimp po’boy cheesesteak), some with African influence (peri peri sticky wings, Nigerian hot chicken). Full bar includes signature cocktails; brunch and lunch are on the way.
Amina, 104 Chestnut St. Hours: 4-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 4-9 p.m. Sunday.
Do not adjust your screen. This bubbling cocktail is part of the highly entertaining experience at the soon-to-open Cauldron Magical Pub, at 1305 Locust St. Last week, I checked outthe New York City location, where patrons wear witch’s hats, wave functional magic wands, and create their own alcoholic and nonalcoholic potions under the tutelage of costumed bartenders. Stay tuned for my article.
Paulie Gee’s, the Brooklyn pizza heavyweight, is getting very close nearby with Paulie Gee’s Soul City Slice, a retro parlor at 412 S. 13th St., the former Amis.
Sabrina’s Cafe’s location at 21st and South Streets should open May 26. Soft opening planned for this coming weekend has sold out.
The syndicated juice bar Pressed has opened at 113 S 13th St. in Washington Square West.
The Foodery, the bottle shop/sandwich bar at 1710 Sansom St., has ended its 10-year run. Owner Tony Rim, who owns Raw 1225 and Zushi, is getting ready to open The Jim, a South Philadelphia bar, with the crew from Fergie’s Pub. Rim will handle the food side.
One of the few kitchens open very late in Center City: Midnight Iris at 1708 Lombard St. serves a small menu including burgers and fries, till 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Kensington’s Forîn Café will open a second location this fall a few minutes away at 2525 Frankford Ave., and it will include a bar highlighting local producers such as Cartesian Brewing and Mural City Cellars. Forîn-made honey wine will be accompanied by craft cocktails tapping flavor profiles from the morning menu — e.g. ube, pandan, baked peach, and chaga. Founders Seth Kligerman, Kyle Horne, and Will Landicho are calling this one Forîn.
Temple University says it has a new tenant to fill the space formerly occupied by the sports-bar hangout The Draught Horse on Cecil B. Moore Avenue west of Broad Street. Glu Hospitality, whose portfolio includes Figo in Northern Liberties and Izakaya by Yanaga in Fishtown, will open The Peabody, named in memory of Temple’s long-ago Peabody Hall dorm. They’re saying late fall for the opening.
Montco winemaker Stone & Key Cellars has released “Wine Not War” Masons’ Blend, with $5 a bottle being donated to Doctors Without Borders to provide medical care in Ukraine. It’s a dry wine of 50% Syrah grapes and 50% Zinfandel grapes from Lake County, Calif., and tasting notes describe “robust aromas of eucalyptus, vanilla, blueberries, and hints of green herb.” Owner Jason Harris traces his family history back to Kyiv and Kharkiv. The wine ($27) is available at Stone & Key’s tasting rooms in Montgomeryville and Ambler, and at its farmer’s market stops.
Fore! Lots of golf is on the way. Puttshack, a high-tech mini-golf experience with two full bars, has leased the entire 1600 block of Chestnut side of Liberty Place (the old Ruby Tuesday’s, plus the shuttered Express and J Crew stores) for a venue opening in summer 2023. Drive Shack Inc. is bringing its mini-golf course-and-bar-for-grown-ups, Puttery, to Howard and Master Streets, across from Hancock Playground in Kensington sometime in 2022. Meanwhile, Topgolf will open its driving range at 2040 Byberry Rd. (the former site of the Nabisco bakery on Roosevelt Boulevard) on May 20. And Five Iron Golf, now at 2116 Chestnut St., will open in the next couple of weeks at 27 E. Allen St., under I-95 near the Fillmore in Fishtown,
Parks on Tap, the seasonal beer garden, will be set up outside of the Fairmount Water Works on Kelly Drive from May 20 through Aug. 31. It will then will hit the road as as a traveling beer garden with a five-week series starting Sept. 7.
Pita Chip, the Middle Eastern quick-serve at 1600 N. Broad St. (opened in 2015) and 3601 Market St. (2018), rolls out its first suburban location in Oxford Oaks shopping center in Yardley on May 18.
This one is intended as the flagship for further expansion. But the menu remains tight: salad bowls, rice bowls, and pita wraps filled with falafel, chicken shawarma, beef shawarma, and roasted vegetables, plus hummus and sides.
Sales from May 18 and 19 will benefit nonprofits Congregation Kol Emet, a synagogue, and Caring for Friends, which provides food and friendship.
Pita Chip, Oxford Oaks Shopping Center, 1581 Big Oak Rd., Yardley. Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
What you’ve been eating this week
Assorted tacos from Canela Mexican Cafe, a cheery little spot from Jesus Reyes and family in a Route 38 strip mall in Cherry Hill, have captured the heart of reader @samshec. (Next time you’re in, I’ll also suggest that you order yourself a cafe de olla, a hot coffee flavored with cinnamon and the brown sugar known as piloncillo.) Reader @brittanyaustin, meanwhile, was impressed by the gnocchi (with sweet peas, cream, basil, and crispy pancetta) from the sleek Vela in downtown Doylestown. She also recommends the salmon, served with lentils and Swiss chard in lemon caper sauce.