Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

No new Eataly news; fresh-pasta places

Here is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat: Craig LaBan: FYI - on the Eataly front . . . I have no new news on the possibility of this Italian mega food emporium coming to Philadelphia, other than rumblings that the complications of dealing with our favorite state-run wine system is one of the few things holding the project back so far. The Eataly in NYC, as many know, has a wine retail store that's part of the business model. Can something a la Garces Trading Co. be worked out? Who knows. My sister in Chicago sent an update on that new Midwest Eataly . . . sounds like it's going gangbusters. A 45-minute wait for the "Nutella Bar"? Something to look forward to . . . .

Reader: Are there any Italian restaurants that focuses on authentic Campania/Naples food?

C.L.: Well, we've got a couple of Sicilian places with Monsu and Zeppoli, as well as the Abruzzese le Virtu. Le Virtu chef Joe Cicala's new place planned for E'Punk this spring, however, Brigantessa, is going to be focused (I believe) on that very southern Italian region. Looking forward to it.

Reader: Any suggestions for what you'd like to see take over the spot Dimitri's is leaving at 23d and Pine? Nice location across from the square. My suggestion is for Koo Zee Doo to return.

C.L: I'd LOVE a KZD return! Fitler Square really needs a great neighborhood restaurant - and that's what Dmitri's was offering. Never changed, always reliable, which is what people loved so much. My guess is a skeptical one - that the new landlord will ask for a rent that will not be supported by such an affordable menu. Probably going to get something with more upscale ambition there. Just my guess. Or the new operator is going to have to do much more with the bar.

Reader: Ooh! I second Koo Zee Doo! That is my neighborhood and I would definitely enjoy that.

Reader: When you review a restaurant like Avance will you vary your meals? One time the tasting, one time a la carte, one time in the bar?

C.L.: Every restaurant is different. But basically, I'll try to capture it from as many angles as possible.

Reader: I was vacationing in Paris over the holidays and am having some serious brasserie withdrawal. Help me. Please.

C.L.: Parc. Bistrot La Minette. And now . . . Le Cheri. Each has its distinct charms. No replacement, though, for an actual trip to Paris.

Reader: I recently visited Superior Pasta in the Italian Market for homemade pasta sheets and loved them. A nice variety of flavors in their pasta, which they cut to order. Or buy in sheets by the pound and cut wide pappardelle on your own. Perfect pairing with homemade braised short ribs.

C.L.: I used to prefer Superior's ravioli, but my new South Philly go-to for great ravioli is Pastificio in deeeeeep South Philly, in the Packer Ave. strip mall next to the big Chickie's & Pete's (and Celebre's too). They also make some outstanding hoagies.

Reader: What is your ultimate stay-at-home snow-day meal?!?

C.L.: Serious lasagna!! Speaking of all those fresh pasta places, pick up some sheets and do it freestyle. Homemade meat balls. Homemade Sunday Sauce. Lots of ricotta whipped with eggs and Pecorino (and a little parsley.) Layer it up and bake until the edges get crispy . . . serve with a really good Chianti Riserva (I'm partial to Isole e Olena).

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