Now that turkey is behind us, let’s turn our attention to two major food groups: pizza and bagels, both of which are enjoying a resurgence these days around here. Also this week, we delve into a more serious issue: restaurants, particularly in the city, that have chosen to close for the short term due to pandemic restrictions. I also offer you a tasty lunch option, and it will set you back five bucks.
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A whole lot of bagel options, and more to come
The Philadelphia area’s bagel scene has been expanding for the last decade, with shops such as Knead, Spread, Bagel Place, Philly Style Bagels, and Bart’s joining long-running establishments such as South Street Philly Bagels, the Original Bagel Co., K&A, and New York Bagel Bakery. Add to that the pop-ups, as well as the stable of bakeries turning out respectable versions. You only go ‘round once in life, so we put together a crowd-sourced, deep-dive collection of four dozen bagel favorites in the city and suburbs.
Bonus: Five upstart bagel shops to watch, including a soon-to-open location of Lost Bread Co. in Center City.
Pizza pizza: We’re having a party here
If something delicious is to come from this pandemic, it will be pizza.
Since the masks went on, the city has seen the debuts of Pizza Jawn in Manayunk, eeva in Kensington, Pizza Plus in South Philly, Bourbon & Branch in Northern Liberties, and Pizzata Pizzeria and Pizza in Style in Center City, plus Benny Casanova’s, a delivery-only shop out of West Philadelphia, and Kurt Evans’ forthcoming Down North Pizza in North Philadelphia.
But the buzziest pizza operation in town right now might be Good Pizza, a passion project run by Ben Berman, 27, who grew up in Portland, Maine, and transplanted to Philadelphia a year and a half ago to attend grad school at Wharton. He bakes 20 New York-style pies one after the other in his Center City apartment’s electric oven. And then he gives them away by lowering them in a basket from his window. The money aspect: His customers donate to charity.
Meanwhile, a guy named Angelo Pizza just opened a shop in Old City. Be advised that you can’t order pepperoni.
Restaurants fight the cold: ‘We’re throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks’
With daylight and hopes of more federal aid fading, what strategies will restaurants take to survive this winter? My colleague Jenn Ladd runs them down: heaters, fire pits, and tents — plus “a blend of creativity and belt-tightening.”
Where can you go? Check our coverage of outdoor dining hits, courtesy of critic Craig LaBan, who rounded up his favorites for our “Let’s Eat!” dining guide as well as seven reimagined spaces and five best bets in the suburbs. Although Philly is shut out of indoor dining for now, the Pennsylvania and New Jersey suburbs allow it at reduced capacity.
Restaurant closings: A grim list
When Philadelphia restaurants’ indoor dining rooms were ordered closed on Nov. 20 for what city officials said was six weeks, some restaurateurs elected to close temporarily. We’ve made a list of the known closings in 2020; unfortunately it seems to be growing by the day.
And with more restaurants dying every day, the city is losing the institutional knowledge in its kitchen and bars, writes Benjamin Palubinsky, general manager of Lucky Strike Philadelphia, in a sobering, enlightening op-ed.
Which restaurants will you miss?
Jenn asks readers to tell us about the bars and restaurants you miss — the ones that have either shut down, haven’t reopened, or that have been put in a pandemic holding pattern. Share a memory (or a few) that you have of your time there, and we’ll publish it before the new year. If you need a refresher on what has closed, consult our roundup of restaurants that have closed.
A great cheap meal in South Philly
Stainless-steel, diner-style food carts have been popping up in South Philadelphia, with bold red stop signs proclaiming $5 burgers. It’s not just a $5 burger. It’s a $5 cheeseburger with fries and a bottled drink, all for $5. Tax included. Want mushrooms or onions? Maybe turkey or pork bacon? A buck each. And you know what? It’s a great deal.
Gifts for the foodie
It’s gifting season, and Isabella Simonetti offers a collection of ideas, including Dutch ovens, a Riedel Nachtmann Punk whisky set, and in a Philly spin, Boyz II Men-branded wines. Which got me to thinking of possible names for those bottles. End of the Rosé? On Bended Burgundy? Motownchardonnay? It’s so hard to say goodbye, but ... enjoy your week.