The best part of our pizza revolution has, of course, been the sudden riches of more great pizza than any one person really needs. No matter where you live, close proximity to a heat-blistered pie pulled fresh from a wood-fired oven is now your right as a Philadelphian, not a privilege.
Free will and good cooking should, in theory, allow any restaurant space to be reborn with a fresh personality under new operators without regard to the places that came before it. But there is something about the crossroads at 20th and Lombard Streets that suggests the character of its occupants is baked into the sidewalk.
The corner at 10th and Spruce Streets, it seems, was destined to rekindle its kebab magic. But even Konstantinos Pitsillides, a man so intense he's widely known among colleagues for his "Cypriot death stare," acknowledges he hemmed and hawed over what do with the vacant space for well more than a year.
The crowd surge, riding a wave of tequila drinks and foosball adrenaline, roared with such gusto as someone scored near the bar at Mission Taqueria that I thought I saw the illuminated blue halo flicker over the Virgin Mary.
When Nicholas Elmi acquired a liquor license and the keys to the space right next door to Laurel, most people assumed his jewel box of a BYOB would simply double in size and evolve into a traditional full-service restaurant.
The house music is thumping in the lobby. The chandeliers above us begin pulsing like a circuit is about to blow. And some jet-set diner's toddler is on a tear, squealing with delight as he runs an obstacle course through the half-empty dining room, tugging furiously at the 22-foot-long white curtains that hang between the staid columns at its edge.
What color is your corn? Is it the iridescent white glint of Silver Queen, whose bursting sweetness reflects summer's ripe back stretch? Or the classic maize of fall, a season of earthy polentas? Or the milky stew of dried Cope's corn at the Thanksgiving table?
The popularity of Fishtown and Kensington was initially built on gastropubs and beer. But as those neighborhoods north of Girard continue to evolve into one of the city's hottest dining zones, the area has suddenly become the epicenter of Philly's increasingly adventurous thirst for wine.
For the last 26 years, Café Lutecia has thrived by the light of day. Its blue-awning-fringed corner has always been a beacon of toasty baguette morning rituals, homey French lunches sparked by Valérie Blum's secret vinegar, and the ultimate in tomato soup comfort, as well as its enduring draw as a community hub for longtime residents of Fitler Square.
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