Sometimes you don’t want the crowds while eating at the Shore, so critic Craig LaBan has come up with some interesting choices for takeout. Also this week: a tasty use for summer fruits, the details of an outdoor-dining setup in Northern Liberties, and a couple of new barbecue options.
Last week, our Craig LaBan reported that the Jersey Shore had become a center stage for the current battles over wearing masks in public, observing spotty compliance to the guidelines. This week, he’s back with a guide to his favorite takeout food — a safer way to go when you don’t feel like bucking the crowds at the supermarket and cooking. Craig went on and off the islands to round up six tasty options, including a Caribbean spot in Ocean City, a pizzeria in Linwood, and an Afghan-French hybrid in Atlantic City.
And speaking of Atlantic City and dining rules: All but one of the city’s casinos reopened last week, but no smoking, drinking, or inside dining is allowed. Borgata opted to await a further loosening of the rules.
Outdoor dining is permitted in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Indoor dining is a different story: It’s not allowed in Philadelphia, but restaurants elsewhere in Pennsylvania, including the Philly suburbs, may offer it with reduced occupancy, masking at tables, and social distancing. New Jersey does not allow indoor dining, but plans to relax some of its rules. Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday: “If you’ve got a restaurant that can open up two sides of your restaurant, and you can have 50% of your wall space open, we’re going to allow you to have that under that roof.” His order would appear to specifically apply to restaurants at the Shore that have the ability to open up their walls or doors to the outside.
One of busiest stretches in Northern Liberties will be closed to car traffic this Saturday afternoon to allow restaurants to expand outdoor dining options, while a similar event on East Passyunk Avenue was postponed indefinitely. This is not a festival, a Northern Liberties organizer told reporter Jenn Ladd. The closure will span the half-mile of North Second Street between Spring Garden Street and Germantown Avenue.
How about two more worthy entries: One is not new, per se. Sum Pig, a catering truck that works the burbs, recently opened a window at its commissary kitchen in the old Fort Washington train station, tucked behind a day spa just off Bethlehem Pike in Montgomery County, to sell sandwiches, nachos, seasoned fries, and Bassetts ice cream. It’s open Thursday to Sunday. I’m also really stoked about Zig Zag BBQ, which opened last week next to Martha on York Street in Kensington. Owner Matt Lang has been a star in the pit game since 2007, when he was opening chef at the critically acclaimed Fette Sau in Brooklyn.
Oh, and I’m collecting your Q favorites in the region. Email them here.
Chef Kurt Evans and the crew from Everybody Eats Philly will be at Smith Playground at 25th Street and Snyder Avenue on Saturday afternoon for one of its community giveaways. The group seeks volunteers and donations of nonperishables.
One unfortunate side of social distancing is that I cannot visit food editor Jamila Robinson’s kitchen, where the scents of her cooking (and particularly her baking) are hypnotic. If you have peaches or berries or most other summer fruits, why not make galettes? It’s a fancy name for an easy-to-make pastry, and Jamila walks you through the steps.
Ralph’s, the South Philly landmark that is the oldest continuously open Italian restaurant in America, is holding its own in these pandemic days. Ed Rubino, who operates Ralph’s with his brother, Jimmy, is offering takeout and is serving its red-gravy-style fare outside along the sidewalk. Ralph’s got a bit of a boost this week when Wheel of Fortune reran an episode taped at the restaurant in 2015.
And speaking of time-honored Italian restaurants: A block away from Ralph’s is Dante & Luigi’s, also more than a century old and also still plugging away today. Dante & Luigi’s says it dates back to 1899, while Ralph’s claims to have launched in 1900. If you have a few minutes, check out colleague Ronnie Polaneczky’s column from 2012, in which she did some deep-dive investigating to get to the bottom of it. Spoiler: Ralph’s is older.
Three beer gardens are coming online. On the 1800 block of Callowhill Street is the Land on Callowhill, serving beer, hard seltzer, and food-truck food (Wednesday-Sunday, reservations only). There’s the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s pop-up at 1438 South St. (open daily). And Friday is Day One for Juno, which is a bit more than a beer garden. It’s an open-air restaurant at 1033 Spring Garden St. from the Harper’s Garden and Morgan’s Pier folks with a Mexican menu and colorful patio (open daily).