The Layover – Philadelphia – In Review

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Tony makes one thing clear from the very beginning of this episode… there will be NO cheesesteak!

I have had the pleasure of visiting Philly a couple of times and I have stopped into a cheesesteak place on more than one of those occasions.  While it is not my all time favorite food, I have enjoyed every cheesesteak I have had.  Cheese, bread, steak, grilled onions… that’s my kind of food.  All it needs is bacon and barbecue sauce!

My most recent trip to Philly was in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  I drove up a couple generators from our church in Silver Spring and dropped them off with a guy that was taking supplies into Manhattan.  Our generator got into Manhattan a full day before the red cross was able to get supplies in!  Not that i’m bragging, but it was just an awesome and unique opportunity that we were able to help those in need in the NYC area.  I believe our generators were used to power an assisted care facility that desperately needed power because they could not possibly move their patients out of the facility.

But I digress… Philadelphia is a great city!  I absolutely love history stuff and if it wouldn’t be too crazy say Philly is one of the most historically significant places in the US.  That being said, let’s check out where Tony ate:

1) Di Bruno Bros – This cheese-shop, yes an entire shop dedicated primarily to the glorious entity that is cheese, has been in Philly since 1939.  The shop boasts over 350 cheeses.  In this shop Tony’s eyes light up when he finds Stichelton cheese, which is apparently very difficult to find.  There was a controversy over the product and the EU originally banned it (those cheese haters!) but apparently through some loophole the old cheese continues under a new name!  To read more on the cheese controversy click on the name to see the Wiki page.

2) Paesano’s – A sandwich shop that is described as “Philly style sandwiches with Italian inspiration”.  If that sounds good to you, you’re not the only one!  The thing that caught me off guard, however, was the diversity of the sandwiches!  Tony called it “sandwich apocalypse” exactly because of the insanity of deliciousness that these sandwiches are.  Ordering four sandwiches may have been excessive, even for Tony, but after seeing these things I know it’d be near impossible to decide on just one!

3) Stateside – A bar not far from Paesano’s that specializes in craft beers and whiskeys made in America.  The selection looks huge and Tony indulges gladly!

Interesting note: apparently most of the bars around Philly participate in a city special and while it varies as to what the special actually is from bar to bar, it is usually something like a can of beer and a shot of whiskey for $3.00.  Now if that isn’t just dirt cheep, I don’t know what is! Philly… who knew!

4) Amis – Inspired from the Roman Tratoria, this is one of those places that I wish to eat at as I walk past it for the hot dog cart on the corner.  Marc Vetri is the master hind behind this and several other restaurants in the Philly area.

A great article by Marc Vetri for all aspiring chefs:

5) Dirty Frank – While they were at dirty frank to meet Han Chiang, the owner of Han Dynasty, I found their descriptions of the authentic Szechuan restaurant much more exciting!  I was just talking about Chinese food today but i’m fascinated by this authentic restaurant that doesn’t have much familiar to Americans.  They don’t adjust spiciness to the American pallet.  And they don’t worry about people not liking their food.  Its real food that Han grew up eating and now prepares exactly as its always been… and that, unfortunately, is something that too often disappears.

6) Pho 75 – I’ve actually been to a Pho 75 here in MD… and to be honest, Pho is Pho.  And Pho is delicious no matter where I get it!  If you have not had Pho, you are not living life!  Is it beef? Yes!  Is it noodles? Yes!  Is it broth like a soup? Yes, Yes, Yes!  Pho is a magical dish that I really can not tell you enough about!  If you happen to make it to a Pho place near you (and I suggest you do!) make sure to also order a hot coffee.  Vietnamese coffee is brewed thick and gritty.  You then pour condensed milk over the coffee to make one of the best and most delicious drinks I could ever imagine.  Seriously.  Go get yourself some Pho and coffee!  You’ll be glad you did!

7) Zahav – Protege of Marc Vetri, Mike Solomonov’s restaurant Zahav is an authentic Israeli restaurant, something I feel like there aren’t enough of!  Tony has a history with Lebanese food, and the dishes he experiences here are very similar, just on the other side 0f the border.

Most interesting thing I learned about Philly:  There is a large number of BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer) restaurants in the city.  These restaurants allow you to bring in outside drinks of whatever you’d like to enjoy your meal with, making it more affordable and enjoyable for you!

Have you ever heard of a BYOB restaurant before?  I haven’t!  Let’s talk more about them below!


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