Here is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat of Oct. 29, 2013:
Reader: I am going to Little Nonna's for the first time this weekend. Any recommendations for some of their dishes?
Craig LaBan: Still early for me, but . . . if they have the whole-wheat pasta with cauliflower cream, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms, get it. Italian milk and cookies . . . get it. Handmade mozz, you know what to do.
Reader: Got a chance to check out Pizzeria Vetri last week and left less than impressed. The pizza selection just seems a lot less ambitious than some of the other well-known spots in the city. I was pretty disappointed by the lack of variety when it came to the toppings. Also, the pies are noticeably smaller than Nomad and Zavino, with higher price points. One of my only negative Vetri meals ever - it just doesn't hold up to some of the other pizza in the city.
C.L.: Haven't been yet. But sorry to hear this report. Expectations are obviously high, so I'll be very curious to see how Mr. V's Pizza holds up to a pizza scene that has now improved light years beyond where it was when they first started pumping out those amazing Margheritas from Osteria.
Reader: What chef should we watch for in 2014 . . . Craig Mac of Amis?
C.L.: So much activity with new openings and young chefs in this town. I'm especially looking forward to the arrival of Justin Bogle and Avance, his take on the old Le Bec space. In addition, we've got two Garces alums about to hit the scene – first with Chad Williams (ex-Amada, Chifa) at Tela's Market at 19th and Fairmount, which looks to be getting the finishing touches. (Like Talula's and High Street, they're going to be doing special dinners to go with the everyday market stuff.) And then this news from Michael Klein's Insider, on the return of ex-Amada chef MacGregor Mann from Denmark (Noma) and Idaho (Henry's Fork Lodge) to open a BYOB called Junto in Chadds Ford, in the old Village Diner on 202, south of Route 1. Talented dude. Made Serrano ham salad and gambas al ajillo like nobody's business. Looking forward to what the York County native does with local inspirations.
Reader: I know a common theme in this chat is the lack of a good bagel in the Philly area. Spread doesn't do it for me. I do, however, think I have found the perfect bagel at Country Bagel out in West Chester, just off 202 tucked in a nondescript strip mall. Nice crisp bite outside, super chewy on the inside. Fantastic.
C.L.: I will definitely give Country Bagel a spin. So far, my current traditional faves are New York Bagel on City Line and Haverford (behind McD's), and Hot Bagels on 3d, just south of South . . . especially very early in the a.m. when they are still hot. I like Spread's Montreal-inspired rounds and eat them regularly.
Reader: I vote for the Bagel Bin in Voorhees.
Reader: The best bagels are from Roling's Bakery in Elkins Park. Nothing like them in Philly.
C.L.: LOTS of people in EP tell me about Roling's. I loved the flavor when I tasted them last year. But our batch was undercooked. I need to try them again.