East Passyunk’s Flavors of the Avenue
Each spring, twenty five of East Passyunk’s greatest chefs offer tastes of their favorite dishes and drinks at Flavors of The Avenue– a neighborhood festival highlighting some of the city’s best food. We were lucky enough to attend the media preview, which gave us a taste of some of the spectacular dishes the chefs will be offering this year at the event on April 26.
The night started off with drinks and small plates at the Pub on Passyunk East (POPE).
We enjoyed crispy falafel with house-made tzaziki sauce and pulled-pork sliders cooked low and slow with a hint of ground coffee.
Ippolito’s Seafood also made an appearance, serving up rich, creamy lobster rolls and refreshing cups of ceviche topped with crisp plantain chips.
From there we walked over to Brigantessa to try their grilled octopus salad. The tomato ragout contained several colors of chickpeas, each with a slightly different texture, and was topped with crispy breadcrumbs and a dusting of lemon zest. Before moving on we sipped glasses of Sballo, a refreshing mixture of white wine, blood orange soda, and Solerno blood orange.
Paradiso spoiled us with a rich wild boar pate topped with a syrupy sweet plum mustard. The bar served up Dico Lemonade, a sweet mixture of cayenne infused lemon juice, rosemary simple syrup, and vodka.
Our Italian trend continued at Mamma Maria Ristorante, where we were greeted by Mamma Maria herself. After laying out a massive platter of tortellini topped with a creamy gorgonzola Alfredo sauce, she pulled out a bottle of homemade mirto for us to try– essentially a limoncello made with blueberries. The beverage was smooth, sweet, and slightly reminiscent of a creamy milkshake.
Cantina los Caballitos brought out plates of succulent jackfruit carnitas tacos. The filling was completely vegetarian, but the earthy bits of jackfruit were cooked down until they had the exact texture of a juicy pile of shredded pork. Each corn tortilla was topped with a dollop of spicy guacamole, tart pickled red onions, and smoky barbecue spiced hominy.
The tour ended at what became our favorite stop of the night– Birra. Chef Paul Giganti prepared a towering pile of mussels simmered in a rich and spicy broth alongside his signature bread pudding topped with a sweet rum creme-anglaise.
A few minutes later he brought out a platter of sweet and spicy calamari. The squid was lightly fried in a crisp coating of rice krispies, scattered with hot peppers and sliced green onions, and drizzled with a slightly sweet sauce.
As the night drew to a close, Paul chatted with us from behind the chef’s counter and offered to make one of his favorite dishes– a seared octopus salad similar to the one offered at Brigantessa. He pulled out a tub of fresh octopus tentacles, heated up a frying pan, and prepared a plate specially for us.
The octopus was the most tender we had ever had– so smooth that it literally slid off our forks after we pierced it. The mixed bean salad in the center of the plate was incredibly soft and just acidic enough to balance out the richness of the zesty tomato sauce scattered around the base of the plate. The shaved pieces of fennel on top added a satisfying crunch to each bite.
You can try all of the dishes we were lucky enough to taste at the Flavors of the Avenue festival on Sunday, April 26 from 12-4pm, or by stopping by any of the restaurants individually. General admission tickets are $45 and are available for purchase online.
One thought on “East Passyunk’s Flavors of the Avenue”
Pssst it’s Giganti (with an “i”) This may be a biased statement, considering he’s my man-piece, but he’s one of the best in town, I can’t help but brag. Glad you had such a great experience at Birra!