All of the Things I Can’t Wait to Eat in a Few Short Days
Mind you, the correct pronunciation of my dear hometown Norristown is Nah-ris-tayeun. Say it with me, people. It’s a magical (see: unique) place where old Italian man play bocce ball on Thursday nights, the smell of fresh empanadas waft through the Borough’s bodegas on the reg and the event known as a “feast” (be it Polish, Italian or other) sends everyone into a frenzy pining for pulled pork sandwiches, funnel cake and beer. Lots of beer. And then there’s Philadelphia or “Phully,” the city I call home as well as an often underrated dining mecca. There’s more than just cheesesteaks and soft pretzels (though those are amazing too and I look forward to their salty glory). There’s upscale Americana, down-home Jewish comfort food, Southern creole, vegetarian delights and the most gastronimically intense pub grub I’ve ever seen. Oh and lots of dive bars. And as I dream about sipping a tall boy PBR and munching on some pierogies, here’s a list of things I plan on shoving in my face, because I love food and this is a wonderful distraction from doing that whole “working on my masters” thing:
Corropolese Tomatoe Pie (tah-may-tuh pie) aka Corpo’s:
LOOK AT THAT. LOOK AT IT. It’s cold. It’s got a hearty, oh-so-Italian crust. And lest we forget a healthy shaking of parm. I require the corner piece at all times. Just hope you get a really saucy pie. And don’t bother ordering a quarter sheet, you know you want the halfer. Some might call it an “acquired taste,” I call it delicious.
I’m fairly positive no one outside of southeast PA knows what a zep is. Kaiser roll, salami, provolone, tomato, onion, absolutely no lettuce and of course oil, salt, pepper and oregano. Herr’s bbq chips make a fine accompaniment. If you don’t down it with a birch beer, you’re probably a communist.
Anything from “The Mexican Place” though the nachos and a pitcher of margaritas will do.
Mind you, Norristown has a plethora of delicious, authentic Mexican joints. But there is but one known as “The Mexican place.” That place is Taqueria La Michoacana. The food is undeniably fresh, filling and namely DELICIOUS. Just the right balance of spice, lime, cheese…all of it. It’s just perfect. The people who work there are also some of the most delightful people in Norristown. Considering they happily obliged to 20 or so people bombarding them near closing time on my 24ht birthday last year …filling us with the most wonderful plates of Mexican fare and a few flaming shots of tequila I hope to soon forget. My face. Those nachos. Done deal. Oh oh! And they give you unlimited fresh, homemade baskets of tortilla chips and three salsas. I love you.
Via Veneto’s Sicilian Pie.
I have never NEVER in my life had a slice of Sicilian better than Via’s. Let’s start with the crust – buttery and crispy on the outside, warm and fluffy on the inside. The sauce! Both sweet and savory and they always ALWAYS put enough on (I hate pizza joints that skimp on the sauce). And of course my favorite…the cheeeese. I don’t know what they do to it, but my god! I’ve never seen mozzarella melt quite like that. It’s creamy, salty, sprinkled with the right seasoning…and then slap a pepperoni or two on there. Heaven. Corner piece rule also applies. Seriously, don’t steal my corner. Close runners-up for pizza: Charlie’s (thin, greasy, savory, perfect) and of course Franzone’s for their oh-so-famous sweet red-top pie.
A Tour de JOSE GARCES
I love this man. I think if I were to actually meet him, I’d just want to bear hug the shit out of him. He’s an Iron Chef and the mastermind behind Philly’s best restaurants…and they’re the best for the right reasons. The food is always of the highest quality, he believes in local sourcing, service is good, atmosphere is wonderful and you get a whooooole lotta bang for your buck. My favorites: Distrito, Garces Trading Company and Amada.
Barbuzzo’s Salted Caramel Budino
Though everything I’ve ever sampled from Barbuzzo’s menu has sent me into a euphoric explosion of taste…nothing tops the budino. After you’ve stuffed yourself to the brim with mediterranean flat breads, bone marrow platters, stuffed meatballs, sinful gnocchi and the famous ouvo pizza …there is always ALWAYS room for the budino. You take the first bite and think “there’s no way this could get any better. This is like God telling the angels to go scoop some magical water from heaven rivers and make this.” But then, it gets even better on the second bite. It does.
Brunch at Sabrina’s
I usually go for the mushroom, blue cheese, spinach and bacon fritatta. I don’t think I really need to explain why. However! The stuffed french toast is a monumental feat of gastric strength. The coffee is divine too. I much prefer the Italian Market locale as its kitschy charm is the cherry on top.
Don’t get me wrong. There are A LOT of things that a fried egg is delicious on top of…pizza, a chorizo sandwich, hash browns…more fried eggs. However, the fried egg on top of this sandwich is perhaps the most decadent of all. I can feel my heart slowing down already. AMERICA!
Imam Baldi at Zorba’s
I’ve come to love many of Philadelphia’s BYOB restaurants, but this one just might be my favorite. I’m a sucker for a Greek restaurant where the waitstaff and kitchen staff’s accents are seriously old country. And my god THE SMELL. You walk into the teeny tiny dining area and it smells like someone’s grandmother has been cooking all day, just for you. The menu is hearty and ever so fairly priced. I have a hard time ordering anything but the imam baldi. Something about that feta and those roasted tomatoes…it’s the defininition of umami.
Other absolute musts:
– Sugar mom’s for dum dums, long island’s, PBR, pierogies…and shame
– Sakura for insanely cheap Japanese cuisine and BYOB shambles
– Honey’s for even MORE brunch
– Franklin Mortgage and Investment Co. for cocktails
– Anything cooked by Melinda Glass, Julie Slick or Diana Santangelo…all culinary goddesses.
– DiBruno Bros for stuffed peppers and CHEESE. SO MUCH CHEESE.
– The Oyster House for buck-a-shuck happy hour.
Oh…and the first thing I’m eating when I’m home is the best cheesesteak within Philadelphia city limits. It’s not Pat’s. Definitely not Geno’s. It’s not Steve’s or Rick’s. Not Jim’s.
It’s PUDGE’S.God damn it, I love food.