Category Archives: Out and About

Pho Ha

Pho Ha

There are a few things on my food Bucket List that I know I should have tried by this point in my life, but I haven’t.  Pho was one of them.  I KNOW, I KNOW!!!  It’s just that, there are so many wonderful things in this city (and beyond) that it took me a bit to get around to it.  There are also a million Pho spots in Philly and I wanted to make sure I started at the right one.  Luckily for me, I had someone who was willing to guide me in my first Pho adventure at Pho Ha at 6th & Washington in South Philly. 

I started with the #1 (Steak/Beef).  First came a piping hot kettle of tea (love), then a plate of fresh herbs (love LOVE), and then the soup (INFATUATION!).  I added a little hot oil, tore the fresh basil, dumped in the sprouts, gave it a healthy squeeze of lime, and off I set slurping and savoring every single drop of this incomparable dish.  You could officially say, I am pho-ever changed (you knew I had to put a pun in there somewhere…)!

Pho Ha
610 Washington Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Phone:(215) 599-0264

Spasso Italian Grill

In a meal that was nothing short of fabulous, Spasso in Media, PA, showed once again why they are one of my go-to restaurants (there is a another location in Old City if you’re not in the burbs!). 

It was two days before my birthday and all I wanted was the grilled calamari.  How good can calamari be, right?  And not fried?  TRUST ME.  Again, I tell you, trust me!  You won’t even know you are eating squid.  It’s wonderfully charred, tender like a steak, and seasoned without being too flavored.  I was over-the-moon when the waiter announced there was a grilled/fried calamari antipasto special being offered.  SOLD!  This, right here, is my #1 ideal meal in all of the world.  A mix of everything I love!

Spasso Italian Grill

 The broth of the mussels was so divine that I drank it right from the spoon.  A must-dunk for any bread you may have leftover from the start of the meal.  And if there’s none left?  Ask for more; the server will be happy to bring you another basket.

Spasso Italian Grill

I didn’t need this pasta dish because I was already more than full from everything else, but I love pappardelle and combined with the shitake mushrooms and sundried tomatoes, it was a home run for me.

Spasso Italian Grill

Spasso is consistenly impressive with a good price point and attentive service in a beatiful location on State Street in Media.  Go go go!!!

Spasso Italian Grill
1 W State Street
Media, PA 19063
(610) 565-7803

Clam Bake for Two at Oyster House

I had yet another wonderful meal at Oyster House!  You’re likely tired of hearing me talk about how much I love this place, but I, am not tired of eating there so you’re going to have to deal with that for just a bit longer (or forever!).  My dinner date and I started with a dozen buck-a-shuck oysters (available during Happy Hour).

Clam Bake for Two at Oyster House

We decided to try something new and opted for the (almost hidden on the menu) Clam Bake for Two, at the suggestion of our awesome server, Roxanne.  We were SO HAPPY we took her advice!  Out of this world.  Side note: don’t be embarrassed to ask what the heck is going on w/ the extra “part” on the clams.  These are not littlenecks… they’re longnecks.  Which means… there’s an extra appendage, of sorts.  Okay, just look:

Clam Bake for Two at Oyster House

Turns out you actually have to (well, it’s recommended as to not eat any extra sand that may be lurking) peel back the dark outer casing.  And then… it’s super good!  It was a little… humorous at first, but these clams are quite tasty!  Enough about that.  Look at this lobster!  Kale!  Potatoes!  Sausage!  Mussels!

Clam Bake for Two at Oyster House

After we devoured this perfect meal, we decided, “hey why not just go totally over the edge and get dessert”?  I mean we were already several cocktails in ($5 punch during HH!), and everything else was already a home run so we decided to throw caution to the wind and go with the Coffee Toffee Ice Cream which was more like a gelato and was AH-MA-ZING.

Clam Bake for Two at Oyster House

Oyster House for the win… again!

Oyster House
1516 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone:(215) 567-7683

Talluto’s Tortellini the Authentic Way

Talluto's Tortellini the Authentic Way

Talluto's Tortellini the Authentic Way

I noticed something while shopping for pasta: some are significantly more expensive than the others! I attributed this to the quality of the product, but it turns out to be so much more than that. I decided to sit down with Joe Talluto of Talluto’s Authentic Italian Foods to hear what he had to say.  If anyone was able to clarify, he was the man for the job!

First, a bit about the history.  Tortellini was founded in Northern Italy (Bologna).  There are a few versions of how this pasta shape came-to-be; most of which involve navels (gasp!); you can read more about here. Tortellini are small, intricate, folded, and pinched pastas filled with a variety of ingredients such as meat, cheese, and/or herbs. Because there is only a very small amount of space for filling, the ingredients MUST shine! Americans generally eat tortellin in pasta salad, or with heavy tomato-based or cream sauces. This is a stark contrast to how they’re served in Italy: “in brodo” (broth). That’s right, broth! Talluto’s mirrors the Italian tradition, and fills the pasta with the best-of-the-best ingredients, allowing them to stand center-stage in beef or chicken stock.

Unbeknownst to me, most manufacturers buy from other tortellini suppliers.  Talluto’s makes all of their products in-house (see my previous post about ravioli) to maintain the integrity of the product. Locally, there is only one major supplier that pumps out tortellini to various companies. This means that the packaging may be different, but the inside product is exactly the same. Makes you feel kind of cheated when you think about…

Talluto's Tortellini the Authentic Way

Talluto’s tortellini is $9.99/lb whereas competitors are priced around $3.49-3.99/lb. That’s a big difference! But why? For starters, the competitor’s products are pre-cooked (which means you are also paying for water) and offer about 96-100 pieces per pound. Talluto’s are flash-frozen immediately after manufacturing and boasts 140 pieces per pound. The thickness of the dough is also a big factor. More dough= less filling. Talluto’s uses a thin dough, made with durum flour, semolina, eggs and no preservatives (<– important!). They also use the best cheese: Asiago, ricotta, and Parmesan. Most other brands use processed cheese as well as modified food starches or whey (read the ingredients!).

What it all comes down to is the QUALITY of the ingredients.  Cheaper is NOT always better!  Talluto’s has prided itself on commitment to their products, and perfecting their craft for nearly half a century. They use the best ingredients, produce everything in-house to monitor EXACTLY what is going into their product, and they use no fillers to bulk up the foods to make it appear as something it’s not.

I decided to put Talluto’s tortellini to the test and prepared a batch just as it’s intended to be. I grabbed a can of Cento Chicken Broth (my personal favorite) and heated in a pan until piping hot.

Talluto's Tortellini the Authentic Way

While this was cooking, I brought a large stock pot of water to a boil. I added the frozen tortellini and cooked until they floated to the top (about 4 minutes).

Talluto's Tortellini the Authentic Way

I served the tortellini with Locatelli cheese (my favorite), and let me tell you… it was beyond words. This was my first time ever eating tortellini in broth like this, and I’m not sure I’ll ever go back! It actually reminded me of a very old-school Italian dish, scrippelle’s. The combo of flavors was out of this world.

Talluto's Tortellini the Authentic Way

I still have a bunch of other Talluto’s options to choose from, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to top how much I loved the traditional Asiago tortellini!!!!

Talluto’s tortellini are sold frozen in-store in the following varieties: Asiago Tomato/Spinach/Egg, Half-moon Mushroom Casoncello (made with Kennett Square mushrooms) Basil Pesto Agnolotti Meat Tortelloni (larger tortellini filled with pork and beef).  Now do you see my dilemma?!

Talluto's Tortellini the Authentic Way

Aristotle once said, “Quality is not an act, it is a habit.”  I think all of Talluto’s products speak for themselves when it comes to consistency and quality. 

For a complete list of Talluto’s locations, visit http://www.tallutos.com/.

To see Talluto’s tortellini being made, check out their YouTube channel!  https://youtu.be/h_H1R0y-6eg

Seven Stone Cafe

I was holed up for jury duty in Media, PA and hit the jackpot on one of our many breaks: Seven Stones Cafe.  I work in Center City Rittenhouse area, and have been spoiled by La Colombe coffee.  Imagine my excitement when I walked into this quaint little cafe and saw the LC signs all over the place!  So excited!!  To my delight, Seven Stones has a ton of baked goods, gelato, salads, sandwiches, and THIS beautiful BLT on a toasted bagel.  I opted for a sesame bagel (my fav) and cream cheese instead of mayo.  Nom nom NOM!

Seven Stones Cafe

Seven Stones Cafe
24 South Plum Street
Media, PA 19063
(610) 627-2077

Marra’s on East Passyunk Ave

There aren’t many places I can eat at over and over again and still feel happy about that (ha!).  My family and I needed a place for dinner after being in the city all day, and Marra’s was able to accomodate a party of 13 with no problem at all.  This was the first thing I loved.  The second thing I loved, was when my cousin ordered “scadole” soup and the waitress echoed that exact pronunciation.  Not escarole, but “scadooooole.”  This made my heart happy.  The third thing I loved was that I just knew, before even ordering, that this was going to be the good chicken parm–where the cutlet is crispy but really juicy and tender.  And finally, when they brought out the pepperoni pizza and the thin-cut pepperoni had crisped up under the heat of the oven, I knew I’d be back at Marra’s quite sooner rather than later.  True to instinct, I was at Marra’s the next night for New Year’s Even, and a week later for pizza with my son and my boyfriend after ice skating at Rizzo Rink.  This is the kind of place you fall in love with, and go back time and time again.

Marra's on East Passyunk Ave

Marra's on East Passyunk Ave

Marra's East Passyunk Ave

 

Marra’s
1734 E Passyunk Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 463-9249

Sabrina’s Cafe

I know I’ve posted about Sabrina’s Cafe before, but I just can’t say enough good things about this place.  On this beautiful Sunday morning, my guy and I took my son there for brunch, and he was sooooo happy with it!  My eight year old eats like a man, and polished off eggs, pancakes, toast, AND bacon! 

Sabrina's Cafe

I got a toasted bagle with cream cheese, tomato, avocado, and a side of bacon.  Now, I’m not sure exactly what the heck they did to these ingredients, but about halfway through, I told my boyfriend that it was the best bagel sandwich I’ve had.  And that’s saying a lot.

Sabrina's Cafe

He opted for the Mediterranean Wrap (falafel!), and he loved it as well.

Sabrina's Cafe

PS- they are BYOB!  The table next to us had a bottle of vodka with them.  *yikes*!

Italian Market
910 Christian St.
Philadelphia, PA19147
(215) 574-1599

The Industry Bar

My guy and I stopped into The Industry Bar for a quick bite, and I was thoroughly impressed by three of the menu items:

Tangy Kimchi Tater Tots with scallion ginger aioli had the crunch and creaminess of a homemade tot, with the tang and addictive flavor of kimchi.  Not to miss!

The Industry Bar

Sweet Pea and Truffle Dumplings were lighter than air and packed with flavor.  I could have eated a dozen, but it only comes with four.  *shrugs*

The Industry Bar

While the previous two items were enough to make me crave them again only an hour later, the Chocolate Chip Doughnuts with vanilla creme anglaise kept me awake at night.  I can’t even explain them.  You just need them in your life.

The Industry Bar

 

The Industry Bar
1401 E Moyamensing Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19147
http://www.theindustrybar.com/learn.html

Nomad Pizza Co.

After a long day out with friends, four of us stumbled into Nomad Pizza on 7th Street near Broad, and boy did we ever luck out!  I’d heard great things about Nomad, but just hadn’t got around to getting there (story of my eating-life).  Two of my friends had just returned from vacationing in Italy the week before, and at the end of the meal they proclaimed that Nomad’s pizza was the closest thing they’ve had to pizza in Italy.  From the first bite, my taste buds sang at both the taste and texture of this rustic pizza.  They also offer a bottle of Montepulciano (my personal favorite red) for $30.  I can’t recommend Nomad enough– it’s a MUST VISIT for Philly.

The Spicy Sausage:
Italian tomato, housemade mozzarella, Renaissance spicy Italian sausage, caramelized onions, basil, and parmesan cheese.

Nomad Pizza Co.

The Arugula:
Italian tomato, mozzarella di bufula, fresh baby arugula, parmesan, and black pepper.

Nomad Pizza Co.