❓ Let’s start with a little quiz: What was the top-selling spirit last year in Pennsylvania, when ranked by number of bottles sold? Read on for a clue and the answer.
Let’s see 2022′s crop of new restaurants
Despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, restaurant openings continue apace. Running through a list of 50 or so restaurants and bars on tap to open in 2022 in the greater Philadelphia area, I see it’s shaping up to be an especially good year for fans of sports bars. Two of the splashier projects are aimed at sports betting — not gaming parlors, per se, but immersive experiences melding sports, gaming, and sports media. Also on tap is a reboot of Pod in University City under Stephen Starr and chef Peter Serpico as the “kinda-Korean” KPod, a sandwich shop in South Jersey called Burgertime from longtime chef D DeMarco (opens this week), and the lounge-y Frame in Old City, which should soft-open any week now with chef Brianna Wellmon in the kitchen. I run down dozens of new restaurants here.
Philly is in the first week of a vaccination mandate, meaning that everyone eating inside a restaurant must show proof of vaccination. This has created an odd situation at food courts, particularly Reading Terminal Market. Its main seating area has been walled off, and an employee checks proof of those who want to sit. Meanwhile, shoppers at the market may walk inside without regard to their vax status. (They must be masked.) The city’s mandate has seen pushback, as enforcement is the responsibility of the already-stressed owners and employees. The other day, staff at Celebre’s Pizza in South Philadelphia was treated to a tirade of profanity from a potential customer who stalked out and threw an object at the door after being turned away. Businesses caught ignoring the mandate can face a $2,000 fine.
A rash of permanent closings typically follows New Year’s. Those that have crossed my desk so far include Mastoris Diner, after 60 years on Route 130 in Bordentown; Macona BBQ on Haddon Avenue in Collingswood (closing at the end of the month after nearly four years); and Grand Lux Cafe in King of Prussia (closing at the end of the month after six years).
Food trends to leave behind in 2021
Ghost kitchens? Tipping? Gross-out viral videos? Out, out, out, if you listen to The Inquirer Food team, which looked at the trends on the restaurant and food scene. How about better lighting in restaurants, so you can take better photos? In favor of that? Check our winners and losers, and share your thoughts by email.
QR codes are not going away
Another trend is the QR code, those black-and-white thingies you scan with your phone. They came into vogue in 2020 after restaurant menus were deemed too unsafe to handle. Although many customers and restaurateurs don’t love them, the QR codes are not going away soon.
Road trip: In a search of sweetness, destination Hershey
Contributor Regan Stephens hit the road in search of food, beer, and leisure, and rolled into a town where the streetlamps are shaped like silver-foiled Kisses. “From the award-winning Tröegs tour to a falconry lesson, a string of thrilling roller-coasters, and, of course, plenty of sweet, sweet chocolate, there are many reasons to plan a day trip or overnight trip to Hershey,” she writes.
The retail price of Pennsylvania’s top-selling spirit is about $1.
A business idea rooted in social justice
A few years ago, Cristina Martinez and Ben Miller’s South Philly Barbacoa ended up with a bumper crop of corn from local farmers, and began selling extra masa. Then a light bulb moment: What if corn masa could become its own business, owned and run by undocumented workers who could create a source of income that wasn’t perilous? Masa Cooperativa, running out of People’s Kitchen, was born.
Antonio and Giuliano Presta, who own the Trios Tomato Pie locations in Elkins Park and Glenside (and owned the Manayunk restaurant Craft before a flood last fall), are behind the polished Adelinas, opening Wednesday, Jan. 5 at 8235 Germantown Ave. It’s the former Paris Bistro in the Chestnut Hill Hotel.
Chef Minh Dang’s menu is mix of old-school Italian and Presta family dishes, such as ossobuco, cornish hen, and rack of lamb. Pay special attention to starters, including zucchini fritters from the recipe of their grandmother Adelina that the family used to line up for on Sundays at her house, as well as spuma di patate, an incredibly rich pastry filled with a creamy potato layered with prosciutto and fontina.
They’ve maintained the space’s full bar, and have a line of cocktails as well as beers and wines.
Adelinas, 8235 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia. Hours: 4-9 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 4-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
A second location of bagel/gelato specialist Bagelati has just opened, at the Shoppes at Elmwood shopping center at Route 70 and Troth Road in Marlton.
Lovebird, the chicken shop especially popular among the gluten-free crowd, has opened a location in Blue Bell’s Center Square Shopping Center, 1301 W. Skippack Pike.
What you’ve been eating this week
❗ The answer to our quiz: The top-selling spirit brand in Pennsylvania last year was the 50mL bottle of Fireball cinnamon whiskey. Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores sold 4.4 million of those shots, for about $4.4 million in revenue. Fireball sales year-over-year were off 5%. Various sizes of Tito’s vodka held the No. 2, 3, and 5 spots in the state’s spirit sales. The big winner on that list was the 750mL bottle of Hennessy Cognac VS, which saw a 56% year-over-year sales bump and finished fourth.