The Tasker-Morris stop on the Broad Street Line is about to become very popular.
The South Philly stretch of East Passyunk Avenue is launching its very own Restaurant Week from Feb. 24 to March 2. With 21 participating restaurants in the Zagat’s “Food Neighborhood of the Year,” it will be only too easy to find the right temptation to make your mouth water with excitement.
For those familiar with Center City’s Restaurant Week, it may be hard to imagine a year when you couldn’t find delightfully-discounted, taste bud-tantalizing food two weeks out of every year. The growing institution began about the time current Temple undergrads were born. A four-day restaurant “week” was first presented in New York City in 1992 as an offering of good will to the 15,000 reporters pouring in to cover the Democratic National Convention.
Today there are Restaurant Days, Weeks and even Months across the nation, in which select dining establishments set a three-course lunch or dinner menu with a fixed, discounted price. Philadelphia’s Center City offers a $20 lunch and a $35 dinner, but East Passyunk is taking it one step further and offering their goods at three price points: $15, $25 and $35.[blockquote who=”Renee Gilinger” what=”East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District”]We finally felt like we had enough on the avenue to do our own thing.[/blockquote]
“There really is something for everyone,” said Renee Gilinger, the executive director of East Passyunk Avenue’s Business Improvement District.
Gilinger said talks over a special South Philly version of the hallowed tradition of discounted meals took about a year to come to fruition.
“We finally felt like we had enough on the avenue to do our own thing,” she said.
If the website hits are any indication, the avenue will be doing its own thing very well. The East Passyunk Restaurant Week site had more than 4,000 visitors in its first week of existence and 100,000 hits.
“Restaurant Week is a great way to highlight all the talent we have here,” Gilinger said.
The talent on the avenue runs the gamut from historic Italian eateries that catered to the likes of Frank Sinatra to organic cafes where all entrees are less than 500 calories. If you are overwhelmed by the array of options, read on for recommendations that fit every budget.
Plenty (Gourmet quick-serve, café and coffee bar)
•1710 E. Passyunk Ave.
•$15 lunch or dinner
The mind behind this locally sourced cafe is inspired by international happenings.
Owner Anthony Mascieri has traveled to at least 25 countries in his life so far and has picked up culinary revelations in each place he visited, which he can now offer to you in the form of unique sandwiches.
High on Mascieri’s list of recommendations from the menu are the Spanish-influenced Madrileno and the Argentinean ¡Matambre!, which both feature flavors not usually found in sandwiches.
Mascieri describes his café as “gourmet quick-serve,” meaning you can take your food and fresh coffee on the go or sit down and savor the smooth vibes of this café.
Mamma Maria Ristorante (Italian)
•1637 E. Passyunk Ave.
•$25 lunch or $35 dinner
Serving up homemade Italian specialties since 1992, Mamma grew up in Abruzzi, Italy, and brought all the secrets of delicious Italian home cooking with her to East Passyunk. She said she chose to open up her restaurant in South Philly, because its Italian roots made her feel right at home.
“I was blessed to learn cooking from my parents,” said Maria di Marco, better known as “Mamma.” She said that good cooking is very important for bringing a family together.
Mamma’s Restaurant Week menu features three courses plus dessert and coffee, but if you want to order off-menu, Mamma recommends her specialty.
“You should try my gnocchi, because I make it just like my mamma was doing,” di Marco said.
•1601 E. Passyunk Ave.
Let your ears lead you to the singing fountain in Passyunk Square, where the sleek red door of Izumi will draw your attention and your appetite to some of the best sushi in the city.
Owner and chef Corey Baver has crafted the menu for the week with great care, so that whatever you eat while there, it’s sure to be both unexpected and unforgettable.
“We want to represent our restaurant at its best, so people can realize who we are and what we do,” Baver said.
The creative chef also noted that a great thing about
the avenue is how close it is to Broad Street.
“From Temple, you could be here in 20 minutes,” Baver said.
Explore all you options and make your reservations at www.eastpassyunkrestaurantweek.com.
Rachel McDevitt can be reached at email@example.com.