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Adam Erace is the critic's critic. While he is a word wrangler of the highest order, his palate is impeccable, and he represents South Philly like a v-neck t-shirt and figaro necklace. When he isn't researching classic French cooking techniques or whipping up fennel recipes for Gilt Taste, he runs the chef's pantry known as Green Aisle Grocery. Erace was kind enough to put together this thorough guide of the place he calls home, East Passyunk Avenue.
In Where I Live, a famous Philadelphian gives us a tour of where they eat and drink in their neighborhood.
FOR BRUNCH: Artisan Boulanger
"On the go, there's none better than Artisan Boulangerie Patisserie for croissants, egg sandwiches and Vietnamese coffee brewed with Counter Culture beans. Andre and Amanda, the Paris-schooled Cambodian owners, make the most delicate pastry; folded around peaches or pistachio paste, it's brown and buttery and brittle as glass. When I have more time in the morning, I love the quinoa porridge at Green Eggs, butterscotch pancakes and Black & Brew and eggs benedict over jalapeno cornbread at Cantina."
PIZZA: Stogie Joe's
"Stogie Joe's square pies are irresistible. They bake them Northeast Philly-style: cheese on the bottom, gravy on top. Also love their staff and potato wedges with Fontina sauce."
FOR CHEESE: Mancuso & Sons
"When I was a kid growing up on the other side of Broad Street, I used to take walks with my parents up Passyunk and stop at Mancuso's for salt water-bathed mozzarella balls wrapped in wax paper. As a grown-up I've learned to appreciate their fresh ricotta, too. For a classier cheese experience, I like the plate at Paradiso, assembled tableside on a rolling cart and garnished with honey from their rooftop."
FOR BEER: Pub on Passyunk East
"P.O.P.E. always has something interesting on tap. The Bottle Shop always has something interesting to-go."
FOR A DEAL OF A TASTING MENU: Fond
"Fond's food never fails to blow me away, and Lee Styer puts out a sick tasting menu for half of what you'd pay uptown. Rally a large party and book the table in their herb-scented backyard."
FOR DESSERT: Capogiro
"Capogiro. Half dark chocolate gelato, half Thai coconut milk gelato. Or when it's hot, lime-cilantro sorbetto."
FOR SUSHI: Izumi
"It may be the only place to get sushi on the Avenue, but I think Izumi's is the best in the city. The scallops are shucked and sliced while still quivering, the uni cut open to order and the cooked dishes are as strong as the raw. Don't miss the sashimi sampler, a rainbow of raw fish anointed and garnished with the likes of shiso oil, tofu vinaigrette and smoked salt."
FOR OLD-SCHOOL RED GRAVY: Marra's
"Marra's. Their veal parm over spaghetti has been my jam since I was six."
FOR NEW-SCHOOL RED GRAVY: Le Virtu
"Le Virtu. Rich, tomatoey lamb ragu over any of their home-made pastas is Vetri-authentic at half the price."
FOR CRAB GRAVY: Iannelli's, Mr. Joe's
"My grandmothers love going to Mr. Joe's, the Termini clan's cafe located right across from the iconic bakery on 8th Street. Partly because it closes at 5, ensuring an early-bird dinner hour. Partly because Joe's crab gravy (tomato sauce simmered with fresh crustaceans) tastes just like theirs. Further up the Avenue, Ianelli's Bakery sells giant jars of spicy and not crab gravy to heat up at home."