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The Splatty Awards!

Welcome all to our 100th post! In honor of this milestone, I bring you a little something I like to call “The Splatty Awards!”: recapping the best things I have been eating, drinking & doing for the past year or so.

Best food item that comes in a jar: Tomato Conserva at In Riva 

Briefly removed from their winter menu for a few weeks in December (in which I cried into my pillow every night), the Tomato Conserva is back in action!

This sweet bruschetta will have you licking the jar clean & begging for more!

Best New York City to Philly transplant (other then myself): Shake Shack

Danny Meyer’s fast-casual burger joint quickly gained a fandom on Sansom Street in the summer of 2012, and expanded this year with outposts in University City & King of Prussia.

The Smoke Shack was initially conceived for the Philadelphia location, but has expanded to all Shacks globally.

Best food I used to be terrified of but now can’t stop eating: Oysters

Yeah, they’re slimy and salty and weird and jiggly, but they’re also delicious!

I’ve been making it my mission to hit every buck a shuck & half price oyster night in town.

Best pop-up: Lucky Old Souls’ Patty Melt Pop-up at Kennett

 When the LOS truck’s engine went kaput this fall, the team at Kennett lent them a hand – and their kitchen – for the evening to raise money for a new one.

And maybe I’m a little bit biased because it was my suggestion to turn out patty melts; a once in a blue moon burger special they were serving up on East Passyunk last spring.

Best Beer Drinking Event: Philly Beer Week Opening Tap

I’ve been partaking in Opening Tap for the past two years now, and seriously, if you’re not making this a priority during PBW, you’re missing out.

Opening Tap showcases the best and brightest of the local Philadelphia beer scene under one roof (the Independence Visitors Center, to be exact). But remember, it’s a marathon – not a sprint!

Best Beer Drinking Event Involving Animals: Summer Ale Fest at the Philadelphia Zoo

Great Beer + Local Food + Adorable Animals = One of the most awesome times you will ever have. Don’t forget to take a selfie of yourself “drinking a beer” with a tiger!

Most of the animals are actually awake compared to a day trip, and zoo docents are on hand to provide detailed information on your favorite critters.

Best Happy Hour (tie): Sampan and Alla Spina

Sampan gets the advantage as they have happy hour 7 days a week from 4-7 PM, but Alla Spina offers some great bar bites and their Victory Brewing beer collab, Novello, for only $3!

Don’t miss Sampan’s edamame dumplings or the pretzel bites with beer cheese at Alla Spina (they come in an adorable wooden piggy)!

Best Brunch: Jerry’s Bar

The Brunch crowd mourned the loss of Cafe Estelle for many months, but Marshall Green’s famous & delicious sticky buns have finally found a new home in Northern Liberties.

I hated Bloody Marys until I tried the one at Jerry’s and now I’m hooked. Seriously – best Bloody Mary ever!

Best Restaurant: Spot Burger

But isn’t Spot Burger a food truck?”, you’re probably asking yourself. Well, who says a restaurant needs to be defined by four brick walls?

 SpOt Owner/Grillmaster Josh Kim is the hardest working man in these streets right now, and he proves it on a weekly basis with his innovative specials (like a $10 Lobster Roll this summer), as well as his philanthropic efforts. He supports dozens of college organizations and local charities, frequently running specials and donating portions of his proceeds to these causes. He’s been a champion for food truck rights in Philadelphia, residing on the board of the Philly Mobile Food Association, and turned the corner of 33rd and Arch St into the “Food Truck Mecca”. So next time you see his yellow cart around, grab some grub; you won’t be disappointed! Spot serves up one of the best burgers in town.

And that concludes our awards ceremony! I hope you’ll at least check out some of the places and foods I love, in addition to the delicious burgers I recap for you guys each week. Got any great places and foods you think I should try? Post em up in the comments section and maybe they’ll wind up on my “best of” list next year!

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Mangia!

In Riva has been open for a few months now and, despite almost being able to see it from my house in the same way that Sarah Palin can see Russia from her backyard, I hadn’t been there until recently. The menu is based on a southern Italian trattoria-style, featuring small plates, salads and pizzas so if you’re looking for your red-sauce joint favorites, this isn’t the place. Tuesdays are ½ price pizza nights if you snag the “secret password” from their Twitter account, so I figured that would be the perfect opportunity to check the place out.

We started with the tomato conserva vasi, a jarred spread paired with crotini bread that was similar to bruschetta. The tomatoes were mashed and sweetened with basil and onions, then topped with thin-sliced cuts of parmigiano cheese. I was reluctant to share it and kind of just wanted to eat it straight out of the jar, it was that good. I saved the rest to put on my pizza crust later at the suggestion of our waitress.


Next up was the crispy pork belly. Topped with an apricot glaze, the combination of sweet and salty flavors paired with the house Pinot Grigio was a perfect complement to the cool, summer night. Plus, it seriously got me considering replacing an out-dated honey glazed ham for the holidays with this modern, fruity twist.

Finally, our pizzas arrived. Instead of metal pizza pie trays, they plate them on your table atop giant, empty crushed tomato cans. We sampled three different pies: a Quattro formaggi with spicy, marinated tomatoes, the Polpette, topped with meatball, mint and crumbled feta, and the Speck and Pineapple, a spicy twist on a Hawaiian pie with jalapenos and thin-sliced prosciutto.

The Quattro Formaggi

I wasn’t sure how the mint would taste on the Polpette, but it actually turned out to be my favorite.

And despite my aversion to Hawaiian pies and peppers in general, the Speck & Pineapple was tasty as well. All pies are prepared in a wood-fired oven, Neapolitan-style with puffy, charred crusts and well balanced ingredients (no supreme meat-lovers toppings here!)

When we were leaving, we noticed a sign that said they would be offering a pizza making class. It definitely sounds worth checking out, especially if you’re like me and your home pizza-making skills involve throwing some sauce and cheese on an English muffin. I emailed them for more information and the pizza class will be held once a month on Mondays (October 1st, November 12th & December 3rd, if you’re too lazy to look it up) for the rest of the year and is $85 per person, which includes the class, a 4 course menu with wine pairing and tax & gratuity. It’s a total bargain when you compare it to the classes that are usually held at Cook.

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