Rather than going with a generic diner staple, he opted to highlight Trolley Car’s selection of less traditional fare. And instead of testing my culinary skills by having me prepare the dish step by step alongside him, Dwight decided to test my gastrointestinal fortitude by feeding me plate after plate of food.
I showed up dressed like an official member of the El Rey wait staff in jeans and a flannel shirt—then stepped inside their kitchen, smelled all the seasoned meats and spicy sauces around me, and watched my hopes of blending in fly right out the window.
Being the generous Italian that he is, Chef Kristian Leuzzi, owner of both Kris and Stogie Joe’s in South Philly, most certainly wasn’t going to let me leave my personalized cooking lesson, or his restaurant, without a solid lunch in my stomach: a braised veal short-rib sandwich with a side of gnocchi.
This past summer, my editor and I decided that it might be interesting to review my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. My mother took it to heart. And as the weeks leading up to the feast ticked by, she put the word out—to my father, to my wife, probably to my 2-year-old daughter—that she was killing herself, literally breaking her back (her words, verbatim) preparing for the big meal.
Before “black IPA” was a thing, Dogfish Head was hopping up dark ales to then-preposterous levels, making Indian Brown Ale an early hybrid brew that defied style.
The food on South Street shares the same DNA as the NoLibs original, the same menu of comforting, fairly priced classics and riffs. The potato latkes remain addictive. Eggs, as always, are done impeccably, from the simple to the baroque.
Their pho, to begin, is excellent, built on a base of broth whose clarity and purity of flavor sets it apart. Unlike so many more deeply developed pho broths in the city, this one is unique for its lightness, delicacy and remarkable freshness. Unfortunately, the beef balls were another story.
Long before “farm to table” had ever been uttered and well before Michael Pollan had become a household name among a certain type of food-focused Americans, there was the White Dog Cafe.