Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Here are your Philly food favorites | Let’s Eat

Omakase roundup, a look at pumpkin spice, the dish on a duck special, and bacon restaurant is on the way.

TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer

Your vote mattered! Our 2022 Dining Guide includes more than a dozen Readers’ Choice winners. This week, get under the hood of the Dining Guide. Also: We round up omakase feasts and all kinds of pumpkin spice, dish deets on a duck dish, and tell you about a bacon restaurant on the way.

⬇️ Read on for the weekly quiz and a look at a quaint new Italian BYOB.

📝 Send me tips, suggestions, and questions here.

📧 If someone forwarded you this newsletter and you like what you’re reading, sign up here to get it free every week.

If you see this 🔑 in today’s newsletter, that means we’re highlighting our exclusive journalism. You need to be a subscriber to read these stories.

Mike Klein

Your favorite deli? Coffee shop? Bakery? Here they are.

Our 2022 Dining Guide gives you our prospective on so many tasty Philly food and drink options. How about yours? This year, the guide includes a Readers’ Choice section — more than a dozen categories, such as deli, bakery, brewery, new restaurant, takeout, and breakfast spots, based on 5,000 public responses. Check them here. (That story is free for all to read. Some of the guide is exclusive to subscribers.)

We’re always looking for greatness. Drop me a line with your favorites in the Philly region (city, suburbs) — the lesser-known the better.

See the Dining Guide here online, including 8 great places to drink and a round-up of new restaurants.

Want a printed Dining Guide? We have them, but only while supplies last.

Where to find pumpkin spice and everything nice

Bakeries, cafes, bars, and restaurants are filling the air with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves — pumpkin spice. Colleague Hira Qureshi followed her nose and found 16 seasonal examples, including a cake roll at Kouklet Bakehouse (above).

Craig LaBan weighs in on omakase menus and a special duck

🍣 All the omakase options out there now! Few dining splurges are more focused on craft and prime ingredients than a sushi meal prepared right before your eyes, writes critic Craig LaBan. He rolls out looks at four experiences: Royal, Sakana, Hiroki, and Yanaga (shown above) — each of which has its signature attributes.🔑

🦆 Christopher Kearse’s whole-duck special at Forsythia in Old City is “literally flying out the door,” Craig’s server told him recently. (I would have said, “It’s everything it’s quacked up to be.”)

See why Craig deemed it “one of my most memorable meals of the past month.”

Lawyer by day, baker by night

Attorney Cassandra Burnett supervises 12 lawyers in the New Jersey Attorney General’s office. By night, she bakes 7UP cakes from her mother’s recipe. My colleague Jenn Ladd tells us about Lizzie’s Love Cakes — a beautiful story that’s more about a daughter’s love and determination as it is about pound cake.

Restaurant report

Twelve years ago at age 18, Dejvi Furxhi started working at Casta Diva BYOB, near Rittenhouse Square. Five years ago, he moved on, opening Burrata restaurants in South Philadelphia and Havertown, plus Enzo’s Pizzata in South Philadelphia. All the while, he wanted Casta Diva’s space, a salon framed by a big picture window a few steps up from street level on 20th Street just north of Locust.

Just last week, he and fellow Casta Diva alum Denada “Dana” Cami took over from former boss Stephen Vassalluzzo. It’s now Luna BYOB, a date-nighter whose rustic menu suits the cozy, charming interior.

Chef Christopher Miller’s five house-made pastas are a step or two more upmarket than the homey ones on the menu at the 13th Street Burrata. Above is the garganelli ($25) with lamb Bolognese, sheep milk ricotta, and mint; below is squid ink tagliolini with calamari, shrimp, amped by an arrabiata sauce with Calabrian chili. Six appetizers, including radicchio salad with shaved fennel and sliced oranges, plus four entrees — 16-ounce veal chop, ($45), airline chicken ($28), branzino ($30), and lobster risotto ($32) — and a few desserts, such as chocolate layer cake and crème brûlée.

In its early days, it’s open for walk-ins and will take phone reservations; eventually it will be on OpenTable.

Luna BYOB, 227 S. 20th St., Philadelphia, 215-693-2220. Hours: 5-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Briefly noted

The Wells Fargo Center this week launches a $50 million renovation of the club level that includes stands by Marc Vetri and Jose Garces and a restaurant from Stephen Starr called Adrian — yo, all you Rocky fans.

William Heritage Winery, out of Mullica Hill, won the Garden State Wine Growers Association’s annual Governor’s Cup for its William Heritage 2019 Reserve BDX Red Blend. The wine was recognized as the best in the recent competition and the Best Red Vinifera Wine. See the rest here.

Pita Chip’s locations in Yardley, University City, and Temple University, will mark National Shawarma Day with a giveaway on Saturday. Buy a beverage and get a comp order of shawarma fries with garlic sauce.

Hot: 🔥 🔥 🔥 🔥 🔥

Devil’s Den’s 14-year run wrapped up last weekend. Justin Coleman, who owns the popular Bake’n Bacon food trucks, he hopes to open the Bake’n Bacon restaurant this winter after a redecoration that will brighten and open the space. There’s bacon everywhere on the menu, including for dessert.

What you’ve been eating this week

Two from South Philly this week: Reader @susiqusi popped into the longtime Vietnamese fave Nam Phuong at 11th and Washington for the clear noodle soup with squid, shrimp, and pork, a belly-warmer also known as #138 (out of #314). Deep-fried spring rolls (#101) all around.

Meanwhile, @elstrauss1004 made the pilgrimage to Fiorella (817 Christian St.), where she had the troccoli with shrimp, ginger, and lardo. Fiorella happened to be one of Craig LaBan’s favorite restaurants of 2021.

Here’s that quiz I promised you!

FoodChasers’ Kitchen in Elkins Park hosted a celebrity a couple of weeks ago, and chef Naren Gosine came up with vegan dishes, pretty much on the spot. The restaurant is putting five of the dishes on the menu Thursday and Friday of this week.

Who is the celeb?

A.) Lizzo

B.) Ozzy Osborne

C.) Bobby Flay

Get the answer here.

🍲 Keep reading more food news.

📱 Follow me on Twitter. Or follow me on instagram.