Here is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat of April 30, 2013:
Craig LaBan: With the spring weather blooming, it's my cue to lighten up with salads like this one from Zea Mays Kitchen truck, which focuses on creative uses for Native American ingredients. It didn't make into our food-truck story, so I'm glad to give it a shout-out.
In big restaurant news from the Insider, some exciting new projects coming to the burbs have been announced:
Josh Lawler of the Farm and Fisherman is the latest big Philly name to head to South Jersey, with plans to take over Andreotti's Viennese Café on Route 70 in Cherry Hill with a larger and more casual F & F Tavern and Market, targeted for the fall.
The married couple behind Italian BYO favorite Melograno is going to the Main Line with a planned trattoria called Fraschetta in the Ha Long Bay spot next to Verdad. June is the plan there, with a focus on Roman porchetta.
And the departure of Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook from Citron and Rose, the ambitious kosher dining room in Merion Station. I've heard the split with owner David Magerman resulted from differences in vision for the overall operation. Cook and Solomonov were consultants, not partners. The restaurant is still open, but their departure will likely be a big blow to what was a promising new option for the Main Line's kosher and mainstream diners alike.
Reader: I am in search of the best Negroni in Philadelphia. So far Sofitel is #1 and The Cambridge is #2. Alla Spina turned me off with the huge ice cube and too heavy on the Campari.
C.L.: I've put out an alert to Rick Nichols, who is Philadelphia's Negroni expert. Truly obsessive on the topic. Hope to hear back soon.
Rick Nichols: Some Negroni haunts in the city and beyond.
Southwark: Started early; and has stayed strong! The Queen of cocktails in Queen Village.
Vernick Food and Drink: They ran out of Campari once, but recovered with Aperol (and their secret weapon? A dropper drop or two of orange bitters!) A perfect first-timer for a Negroni virgin.
Vedge: Very decent and well-balanced, has Blue Coat - a favorite - on the shelf. Could be chilled a little longer. Slightly lusher and sweeter than some versions.
Fork: A pleasant, classic rendition, well made and properly served.
Dante & Luigi's in South Philly: if their old-school bartender, Ron, is still in the house. Hits the spot! Small cocktail glass, which is a good thing. (Take the Negroni. Leave the pasta.)
My front porch at sundown: Blue Coat, Carpano, and Campari, stirred in the glass shaker for a little ice melt, a touch of orange bitters (lifted from the Vernick playbook), the 1940s-style, etched cocktail glass given to me by my colleagues, lightly swiped with a strip of orange peel which is then twisted, squeezed and floated on the Negroni's eager, shimmering, ruby pool.
Reader: Cherry Hill is getting some food buzz recently-Han Dynasty, now Josh Lawler. Any old-school recs? Or newbies ?
C.L.: Eagle Tavern, and People's Pizza, and Chick's Deli for cheeseteaks. Lately, CH has become all-chains, looking forward to new culinary energy from Han, Lawler, and, of course, Vetri's Osteria in the nearby Moorestown Mall. Sang Kee is already a great addition.