In a year full of fantastic flavors, debuts, and culinary acrobatics, some performances were particularly memorable. Over the next few days, I'll be sharing the Philly dining stars of 2016 I won't soon forget.
The Best New Restaurant
Wm. Mulherin's Sons. This was the strongest crop of new restaurants in recent memory, with Double Knot and Hungry Pigeon also contending for this nod. But none were as complete as Wm. Mulherin's Sons, the broodingly handsome, wood-fired Italian grill set inside the exposed brick bones of a pre-Prohibition whiskey rectifier. Chef Chris Painter's menu, with an early pizza assist from the Pitruco guys, is stellar from pastas to steaks. Add a cocktail or amari flight, and taste why Mulherin's is proof Fishtown has grown up to be a serious dining destination.
Here's what LaBan had to say about Wm. Mulherin's Sons in his original review:
The name Wm. Mulherin's Sons is literally cast in concrete on brick over the grand arching windows that line this now beautifully restored building, enhanced by developers David Grasso and Randy Cook and their chef-partner, Chris Painter, for its newest role as a boundary-pushing restaurant (and soon upstairs, a four-room boutique hotel).
Can you blame them for inlaying Winner into the hand-clipped tile mosaic at the entrance? It's a nod to the past - Mulherin's signature blend was Winner Rye - but also a confident wink toward its present and future. And true to the boast, Wm. Mulherin's Sons the Italian restaurant is a winner in every way. From the excellent cocktails, wine list, and service to the gorgeous setting, topflight pizzas, pastas, and succulent wood-grilled meats, this is the grown-up destination restaurant fast-rising Fishtown has been waiting for. There's even . . . a free parking lot!?
Looking for more of Craig LaBan's best? Buy a copy of Ultimate Dining at philly.com/store.
On Wednesday afternoon, Craig LaBan named his chef of the year. Also, look for LaBan's Year in Bells in the Sunday Inquirer.