Punxsutawney Phil says six more weeks of winter. We have something warm to counter that. Also this week, celebrate Lunar New Year with dumplings, check out an ambitious do-good project by Everybody Eats, and take a peek inside Stephen Starr’s latest Philly restaurant.
But first, I’ll stop you cold with a quiz:
🍨 Name, in order, the top-selling flavors at Bassetts Ice Cream at Reading Terminal Market, the nation’s oldest scoop shop.
a. cookies & cream, b. salted caramel pretzel, c. chocolate, d. vanilla, e. mint chocolate chip.
Dip down below for the answers.
Craig LaBan’s favorite soups
When the furnace quit at critic Craig LaBan’s house one recent morning, he did what any other smart food critic would do: He rounded up his chilly family and headed out for soup — thereby turning a HVAC misfortune into a journalistic mission to consider the many belly-warming soups and stews out there. He found nearly two dozen, from Uzbek lagman to vegan matzo ball. Prepare to be bowled over with the variety, just as Craig was bowled over with the repair bill.
Celebrating Lunar New Year with dumplings
To Judy Ni, owner of Baology, the modern Taiwanese dumpling shop near Logan Square, Lunar New Year means spending time cooking with relatives. Colleague Kristen Balderas kept her cameras rolling so you can watch Ni create a batch of pork, shrimp, and spinach potstickers in a video.
If that makes you eager to try it yourself, Ni (whose family is from Hsinchu) and her friend Kiki Aranita (a native of Hong Kong) share dumpling recipes and techniques.
Other ways to mark Lunar New Year in the area? Contributor Grace Wong rounds them up.
Hunger-relief group opens a food hall
Everybody Eats Philly, which started fighting food insecurity in the days following the George Floyd protests, is embarking on its most ambitious project to date: Vittles Food Hall, in Chester. Vittles is now the group’s home base and provides low-cost food (and jobs) to people in an underserved community. Its grand opening is Saturday, Feb. 5.
A chef is selling outstanding gluten-free pasta in Delco
“Gluten-free diners, rejoice: Settantatré produces one of the best pastas around,” proclaims the headline on Craig’s look at the new pasta shop run by chef Matt Gentile in Milmont Park. (That’s the tortelloni filled with burrata above.) Gentile, the chef at Old City’s Panorama, set out on his mission eight years ago after his wife, Genna Curcio, was diagnosed with celiac disease. The name? Curcio explains that the number 73 (settantatré in Italian) is a personal thing, popping up constantly in their lives — hotel rooms, addresses, flights. They even got married on 7/3.
Here’s your first look inside Kpod, Stephen Starr’s reconceptualized University City landmark at the Inn at Penn (3636 Sansom St.). It now has a “kinda-Korean” focus under chef Peter Serpico. Reservations will go live on Resy on Feb. 3 in advance of a Feb. 9 opening. Stay tuned at Inquirer.com for details.
Chef Michael Sultan is known for his housemade ingredients at Community, the cozy sleeper he runs with his wife, Angela, at 21st and Federal Streets in the city’s Point Breeze area. Once a longtime shot-and-a-beer called Burg’s, the joint was spruced up a few years ago as Buckminster’s and then as Burg’s Hideaway Lounge. The snug, lively space is aimed at the community. The Sultans also sell provisions, such as dry-rubs and house-cured bacon and salmon, to go.
Pay special attention to the French onion soup, which happens to be chef David Ansill’s recipe from his time at Good King Tavern: onions, butter, garlic, chicken stock, demi, thyme, cream, sherry vinegar gastrique, roux, and even more onions, with Gruyère, manchego, Parmesan, and mozzarella on top. Sultan’s smash burger starts with two 3-ounce dry-aged burger patties, which are topped with housemade habanero pickles and bacon, burger sauce, and Cooper sharp American on a Martin’s potato roll.
Among bar offerings is a Philly 76, a riff on a French 75 with sparkling wine, gin, lemon juice, creme de violette and lavender syrup.
Community, 21st and Federal Streets. Hours: 5-11 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, noon-11 p.m. Saturday.
Samantha Shaw grew up in Society Hill and set out on a two-decade career as an executive in pro tennis. Now she’s made a return — as it were — by opening the new Sam Shaw’s Treatery (306 South St.). The boutique sells baked-in-store Koffmeyer’s Old Fashioned Cookies, which were a major deal back in the day from a shop on nearby Head House Square, as well as olive oils and balsamic vinegars, decorative placemats, trivets, and coasters from France, bamboo salad bowls from Vietnam, and pottery and other merchandise from South Africa.
Hop Sing Laundromat at 1029 Race St., the Chinatown cocktail bar that closed temporarily before New Year’s, will return Friday, Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. Original vaccination cards or digital proof — but not photos of ID cards — will get you in the door. Owner Lê says he will be opening only Fridays and Saturdays for now.
City Tap House at the Radian at 3925 Walnut St. in Univerity City has reopened after a nearly two-year shutdown.
Pizzeria L’angolo in Manayunk is back, four months after flooding from Hurricane Ida left what contributor Dave Caldwell calls “peanut-buttery mud” on owner Guido Abbate’s countertops and a lot of ruined food in his walk-in refrigerator.
Kouklet Brazilian Bakehouse, morphing from a pop-up to a brick-and-mortar, is shooting for a soft opening on Feb. 12 at 1647 E. Passyunk Ave. Meanwhile, Conshohocken is getting a Brazilian bakery of its own, as Danielle DeSouza of the ‘Feine coffeeshops is taking over the former Pete’s Deli at Hector and Righter Streets as Merenda Box. She expects to open this spring, says WhatNowPhilly.
East Passyunk Restaurant Week is coming back for its 10th anniversary, running Feb. 28 to March 11 with fixed-price meal options priced from $20 to $55.
Tina’s Tacos, which opened in 2021 in Fishtown, is headed to Florence, Burlington County, for its second location, due this spring at the former Nook’s Pourhouse (2043 Route 130 South). Owners Darshak Pendem and Puja Gohil say they want to better serve their New Jersey customers and explain that Florence offers growth potential.
And to clarify an item here last week: Bankroll Club, the sports bar taking the former Boyd Theater in Center City, is shooting to open in fall 2022.
What you’ve been eating this week
You’re getting out there. Among readers’ favorite meals: @arosenstein enjoyed a cheesesteak with Cooper Sharp cheese from Curly’s Comfort Foods in Levittown, and @original_jbrin liked the hamachi kama from Sagami in Collingswood. I love knowing where you’re eating. Send me your photos via Instagram.
Bassetts’ top-selling flavors are:
d. vanilla, a. cookies & cream, e. mint chocolate chip, c. chocolate, and b. salted caramel pretzel
Remember, six more weeks of winter, says Phil.