Tomorrow is "Pi Day." March 14, or 3.14, has become an excuse to eat pies of all kinds, and we've got lots of suggestions.
Our other stops include a vegan cafe in South Philly, and a neighborhood French bistro — all great destinations to share with friends. Speaking of which: I'm relying on friends and colleagues to help with "Let's Eat" since I had surgery to fix a ruptured quad tendon.
March 14 is an opportunity for math geeks to celebrate 3.14, the numerical constant known as pi, and for foodies to honor edible pies, from pizzas to desserts. As you mark the occasion Thursday, here are some places around the region to sample pies of all kinds.
Rione, 102 S. 21st St. in Center City, specializes in Roman-style pizza al taglio, the rectangular pie sold by the slice or tray.
At Angelo’s Pizza at 736 S. Ninth St. in South Philly, owner Danny DiGiampietro slings square, upside-down, and round pies to a devoted following.
Cake Life Bake Shop, at 1306 Frankford Ave. in Fishtown, offers a regular selection of breakfast hand pies, plus baked “poppin’ tarts” with berry filling.
Stargazy, at 1838 East Passyunk Ave., is a traditional British shop that sells savory pies filled with ingredients like ground beef.
Whole Foods Market locations are offering $3.14 off full-size bakery pies on Thursday only.
Vecchia Pizza, at 249 Bridge St. in Phoenixville, makes simple Neapolitan-style pies in a wood-fired oven.
Pizza Shackamaxon sells slices and whole pies out of the former Pizzeria Beddia location at 115 E. Girard Ave.
The Flying Monkey Bakery in Reading Terminal Market features a wide selection of pies and mini-pies, as well as whoopie pies in a range of flavors.
At the Melrose Diner, at 1501 Snyder Ave., customers can choose from classic pies like apple and coconut custard.
Metropolitan Pizza & Cafe, at 264 S. 19th St., offers pizzas as well as chicken pot pies, shepherd’s pie, and seasonal pies for dessert.
Day by Day, the lunch and brunch spot at 2101 Sansom St., offers a selection of homemade pies in flavors like fudge brownie.
— Allison Steele
The Burger Shop | Souderton
Comp burgers will greet customers on the first day of this shop (162 N. Main St.), starting at noon. Regular hours resume March 18.
Nom Nom Bowl | Rittenhouse
Alan Su's Japanese bowl/ramen specialty shop is new at 1608 Sansom St.
20th Street Pizza | Rittenhouse
Mark "Blackbird" Mebus says March 20 for his vegan slice destination at 108 S. 20th St.
Rouge | Rittenhouse
The Rittenhouse fixture reopens March 21 at 205 S. 18th St.
Tannery Run Brew Works | Ambler
Brewpub’s ribbon-cutting is 11:30 a.m. March 15 at 131 E. Butler Ave.
Midtown | Washington Square West
Short-lived bar-restaurant at 114 S. 12th St. will get a new concept.
The Erin Express
Noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 16; erinexpress-philly.com
The Erin Express — the grandfather of Philadelphia bar crawls — is celebrating roughly its 40th anniversary this year, and you've got one more chance to catch it this weekend.
What should you expect? Bar columnist Samantha Melamed says it's "a mess, but an exceedingly well-run mess." There are half a dozen school buses, more than a dozen bars, and lots of shamrock-green tutus. Order a pint of Guinness, Melamed says, and bring a friend who will get you home safely.
Good King Tavern
614 S. Seventh St., 215-625 3700; thegoodkingtavern.com
The Good King Tavern has settled into a fine Gallic groove over its five years at the corner of Seventh and Kater Streets and has grown into a cozy, intimate neighborhood French bistro for Bella Vista. The steak-frites are superb (especially the frites). There’s a duck du jour that alternates between variations on duck confit and a spontaneous riff on perfectly roasted juicy breast from Keiser’s Pheasantry in York County (lentils, bacon, and dates on our visit). There are the irresistible socca pancakes made from chickpea flour that signal the Provencal roots of father-daughter owners Bernard and Chloe Grigri.
Chloe also has curated a somewhat under-the-radar but very worthwhile wine list that focuses on natural winemaking from France and delivers a selection served with fair value, from both “good, better, best” glass options to “Keep Wine Weird” Sundays, which offer pours of hard-to-find oddities like Tim Wildman’s Astro Bunny pét-nat and a vermentino-nero d’Avola-zibbibo blend from Australia.
Sundays, it turns out, are an all-around good night to visit the Good King. The showstopper at our recent meal was the hot steel crock of Sunday Raclette, billed by manager Patrick Bruning as the bistro’s Savoyard reply to Italian Sunday Gravy. That means potatoes, melted cheese, and spicy mustard on a board at the center of the table for sharing. But what made it especially good were all the details. The Yukon potatoes were carefully salt-roasted before they were crisped up with olive oil, shallots, and garlic. The raclette, a classic French alpine oozer, was broiled to a crispy brown. There was spicy Dijon for dipping and peppery greens of frisee salad in a bright vinaigrette to help cut through all that richness. As a bonus, a generous portion of jambon de Bayonne was mounded on the side, the salty pink folds of this cured ham from Southwest France (slightly thicker cut and moister than Italian prosciutto), pushed this snack board closer to light meal status.
The Sunday night-only status of these specials is the kind of thing, of course, that lures regulars to a great neighborhood restaurant. But, thankfully, this usually cold-weather indulgence has been so popular it’s now a year-round fixture. As Bruning said: “There’s no bad time for cheese and potatoes and ham.” — Craig LaBan
1515 S. Fourth St.; grindcorehouse.com
Ten years ago, mainstreamers might arch an eyebrow at Grindcore House, a coffeehouse set up in a onetime butcher shop in Pennsport. All-vegan menu. Edgy grind/metal soundtrack. Radical library in the back, stocked with titles about communism and anarchism.
A decade in, Mike Barone and Dave Anthem’s cozy corner cafe has matured into a neighborhood gem while retaining its social magnetism. (The mainstream, as it always seems to, is catching up. One recent Yelp reviewer, having stopped in unawares of the theme, felt charmed, though she couldn’t quite place the “funky” music: “Hard rock? Gothic? Well, something along those lines.”)
Cafes everywhere now make lattes with milk substitutes and sell vegan foods, but Grindcore goes the distance. Its counter is stocked with pastries from local partners, some of whom (Dottie’s Donuts) are former employees.
Get the Italian hoagie, assembled on a crusty roll from Philly Baking Co., which tastes astoundingly like a regulation South Philly hoagie with Herbivorous Butcher ham and capicola and Uptons natural provolone cheese.
The Kropotkin stuffs a ciabatta with Field Roast faux-meat slices, greens, roasted red peppers, onion, and a swipe of pesto vegenaise.
There’s the Treehugger salad, with greens, cucumber, avocado, tomato, red onion, olives, seed mix and choice of goddess or (our pick) shiitake & sesame vinaigrette.
Hours: 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. weekends.
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P’unk Burger is making Girl Scout cookie milkshakes. (Yes, they bought the cookies from local Scouts.)