March 7, 2004 |
Chick's Tavern is the only eatery I know where a meal is not complete without a plastic bucket on the table. On my visit, the dull thuds of tossed mussel shells soon gave away to sharp clicks - sort of like the snapping sounds of castanets - as the bucket filled. At this third-generation family restaurant, mussels are served two ways: by themselves or heaped on a bed of linguine. Either way, they're served with red or white sauce and placed in a dish the size of a punch bowl.
October 25, 2000 |
By now, the story of how Susanna Foo entered the restaurant business is familiar to many Philadelphians. The former librarian had two young sons when she went to work as a hostess at Hunan at 1721 Chestnut Street, which was owned by her husband's family. Business was poor, customers complained about the food, and Susanna had to agree. The chefs relied on canned ingredients and frozen fish. Every dish was made with either a soy-based brown sauce or a white sauce based on MSG. When business got so bad that much of the staff was laid off, Susanna reluctantly stepped into the kitchen, bringing with her a reverence for fresh ingredients but no formal training.
November 12, 1999 |
Over the years, much has changed about South Street Souvlaki. Which is good. There are some things that have not changed. Which is also good. For example, the same commitment to quality is still there, and both prices and portions remain good deals. Way, way back, somewhere in the late 1970s, South Street Souvlaki was a small, somewhat cramped place where a lot of folks learned about spinach pies, gyros and even souvlaki. It was inexpensive fare taken at a few tables in an austere environment, warmed by flickering flames that seared food in an enticing sizzle.
August 20, 1999 |
Most people call him George. Which is his name, but not his given name. "My first name is Adel [which rhymes with paddle]," he explains, "but almost everyone would pronounce it Adele, like the girl's name. So I just began telling everyone it's George. " Which happens to be Adel George's last name. Now George spends a lot of time telling patrons that his new restaurant, Bistro La Baia, which means bay in Italian, is pronounced By-ah. George, who is from Cairo, opened La Baia, at 17th and Lombard Streets, eight months ago. But his love affair with Italian food goes back to when he first arrived in Philadelphia, around 1980.
September 2, 1998 |
Luigi Basile is proud as a new papa of his recently renovated Laceno Italian Grill, a 4-year-old BYO in a Voorhees strip mall. The decor, with white linen cloths and cool terra cotta walls, tile floor and imposing brick oven is decidedly chic and feels surprisingly stylish given the location. We found ourselves under-dressed in chinos and polo shirts on a recent Saturday night. The restaurant was so busy we had to wait 20 minutes before our reservation was honored. Without a liquor license Laceno's provides no place to wait while tables are readied.
August 7, 1998 |
Some friends were talking the other day about restaurants. A couple of them asked if there was a dining spot truly representative of a typical, old-time South Philadelphia Italian eatery. Well, I told them, there was a classic: Graziano's Ristorante. One problem. Graziano's is in South Jersey, not South Philly. But once inside, you'd never know. Eyeballing the surroundings and enjoying the menu, it could be 10th and Reed, or 12th and Dickinson. Graziano's, on the White Horse Pike en route to the Shore, has been serving a fine and honest version of American-Southern Italian fare for nearly 20 years.
December 12, 1997 |
Even the first time you dine at Casmirri's, it doesn't take long before you feel as if you've eaten at this Bensalem restaurant before. The service has a friendly, personal and gracious style that almost makes you think that if you checked birth records, you might even be part of the family. What is particularly nice about this, is it's done in a way that does not intrude upon your privacy. This is a small place, right? Wrong. It seats about 125. Even the bar cuts an expansive rectangle, with patrons who appear as affable as the staff.
July 11, 1997 |
Good news for those who frequent Penn's Landing and eventually find themselves searching for basic, reasonably priced fare: Schooner Tavern & Restaurant is now out of dry dock. This onetime popular eatery on Front Street, two blocks south of South, had been out of commission for a year or so. Now its tiny galley is back and serving fundamental but quality food in generous portions at some very reasonable prices. So if you're in the mood for nothing more elaborate than soup, chili, pizza, sandwiches, and a few entrees, you should find contentment here.
December 27, 1996 |
Over the years, David Chan has expanded his Mai Lai Wah restaurant from a basic noodle house to a place where you can get duck specialties and a host of other provincial Chinese dishes. So when he decided to put some additional emphasis on seafood, he opened a second place, on Ninth Street, just around the corner from his 10th and Race Street Mai Lai Wah Restaurant and Noodle House. The name of this other Chinatown entry is David's Mai Lai Wah II Seafood Restaurant. As the name implies, you have a large selection of seafood choices.
May 17, 1996 |
Conversation at our table was interrupted by a most wonderful aroma that could only come from a dish of mussels in white sauce. Soft nuances of wine and a distinctive bouquet of garlic seemed to be conducting their own dialogue. We hadn't ordered them. They were being brought to the next table where two young couples were obviously enjoying their Saturday night out at Vincent's Mansion House, a Gloucester City spot that has grown from local tavern to restaurant. I was told later that mussels ($4.50)