Category Archives: Philadelphia Restaurants

The Black Horse Tavern ****

101 South State Street
Newtown, PA 18940


Happy Hour--a time, usually between the hours of 6-8, when drinks are offered at reduced prices, encouraging co-workers to mingle outside of the office setting.

This is what Happy Hour used to be–back in the 1990’s when people had jobs and could afford to keeping purchasing cocktails long after the drink specials had ended. But with the unemployment rate ticking ever higher, the definition of Happy Hour is changing: it is no longer only a place for the over-worked to release steam, it is also a valuable networking tool for the unemployed to try to find work. And bar/restaurant owners are recognizing this paradigm shift caused by the economic recession, offering better drink prices, extending discounts to include menu items, and even beginning their Happy Hours earlier in the day (before the 9-5er’s are released from their cubicles).

As an unemployed college graduate (or stay-at-home-daughter, as I prefer to say), I recognize the valuable opportunity that Happy Hours provide for networking (and budgeting) and I try to make it out to one each week. Of course, I also need to vent my frustrations of failed interviews and wasted cover letters!

Right now my favorite Happy Hour hands-down is The Black Horse Tavern in Newtown. They do it all right:

  • Starts at 5 pm, ends at 7 pm (Mon-Sat)
  • $3 drafts, $4 wines, and $6 martinis
  • 1/2 price menu items
  • Trivia on Friday nights (for free drink prizes–I won one last week!)
  • Free bar food available during Happy Hour (usually their delicious flatbreads!)

In my opinion, it’s the best deal in town and like all good things, it draws a consistent crowd. Aka: If you get there after 5 pm expect to sip your delicious martini while standing! They have an extensive speciality martini list, but I recommend the Grapefruit Bubbling Cosmo with Ruby Red Vodka, Cointreau, Lime Juice, Cranberry Juice, all topped off with a splash of Champagne. It has a perfect blend of citrus without tasting artificial.

As far as bar food goes, YOU MUST GET THE TRUFFLE FRIES!!! They come topped with Parmesan Cheese and Belgian Aioli and they are to die for!

I also really like the flatbreads at this place. The Margarita is very simple but delicious made with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, oregano, olive oil, and spicy marinara sauce. It’s tasty finger food that is easy to share, and I’ve got to admit that it is better than some of the pizza places I’ve tried in these neck of the woods.

Last but not least, I also tried the Caesar Salad with crisp hearts of romaine and a garlicky brioche crostini, dressed to perfection with a Caesar drizzle. It was a great portion for like $4, which is definitely recession-approved pricing!

Although I have only been to the Black Horse Tavern for Happy Hour, I hear from my neighbors that the kitchen also makes fabulous burgers and steaks for dinner. In fact, one of my neighbors said it was one of the best steaks that he has had in years (and this guy is a credible foodie in my book!).

Bottom line: if you are looking to avoid the rather pretentious cougar scene at La Stalla, and you want better bar grub than Isaac Newtons can offer, head to The Black Horse Tavern! You won’t be disappointed.

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Honey ****

Spring Chicken Flatbread with Asparagus, Melted Leeks, Preserved Lemon, Goat Cheese, Fresh Mozzarella, and Black Truffle Oil

42 Shewell Avenue
Doylestown, Pa 18901


To say that fine dining options are fairly limited in Doylesytown, Pennsylvania–my hometown consisting of about 9,000 people–is an understatement. And as I routinely complain in my blog, the only fine dining is Italian food, so you’re shit-out-of-luck if you aren’t in the mood for pasta. When my parents told me to pick a restaurant to celebrate my 22nd birthday this week, I found myself completely stumped on places to go. In fact, I ended up just eating at home to avoid the inevitable restaurant disappointment! But my parents didn’t think that the backyard BBQ was celebratory enough, so they surprised me and took me to Honey restaurant the following night.Although Honey isn’t new to Doylestown, it is new to me. Obviously, I wasn’t been able to keep up with the food scene in Philly while at school in Miami, and when I was home on holidays and breaks, I was too busy eating my mom’s cooking to get out to restaurants.

Honey is a modern and trendy little spot located right off of main street in Doylestown. It’s actually so elegant and chic that I completely forgot I was in Doylestown once inside (which was nice!). We got started with some drinks from their eclectic and creative cocktail menu, including their Black Cherry Mojito ($13) and the Alma Calma ($12). The mojito was made with Black Seal Dark Rum, Spiced Cherry Puree, Mint, Lime, and Wishniak Cherry Soda. I was nervous about ordering a mojito in hickville Pennslyvania after spending the past four years living in Miami (the mojito capital), but I was very pleasantly surprised after trying the drink, which even included a nice stick of raw sugarcane in the glass. The Alma Calma includes Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whiskey, Ginger Infused Brandy, Fresh Lime, and Elderflower Essence…also delicious!

Before we even placed our order, the server brought out a complementary Tuna Melt Bite for everyone at the table, as a “gift” from the kitchen. It was Tuna, Melted Manchego Cheese, Kalamata Olives, and Cherry Tomato backed on top of a Petite Toast. I would have ordered this delicious sampler as a meal if I could of but sadly, it wasn’t on the menu. This salty started certainly got my appetite going though!

Complimentary Tuna Melt with Manchego Cheese, Kalamata Olives, and Cherry Tomato

Next the server brought out some Popcorn with 15 Spices as a snack while we waited for our food. 15 spices sounds very flavorful, but I was unimpressed by the popcorn and oddly, thought it was bland (especially for having 15 spices!!)

Popcorn with 15 Spices

Since Honey is a tapas styled restaurant featuring small plates, my family and I decided to order 3 different dishes and share them equally. We started with an order of Fried Catfish served with Remoulada Sauce and Crab Meat Succotash ($18). The Succotash was ridiculously good (as well as abundant) and I loved the spicy remoulada sauce on the fried fish. The fish was a nice portion with two large pieces on the plate, and it was cooked to perfection.

Fried Catfish with Remoulada Sauce and Crab Meat and Corn Succotash

Next came the order of Spring Chicken Flatbread with Smoked Amish Chicken, Asparagus, Melted Leeks, Preserved Lemon, Goat Cheese, Fresh Mozzarella and Black Truffle Oil ($14 – photographed at top). It was more like a pizza than a flatbread in my opinion, because the crust was pretty doughy and thick, however, it was tasty. I just don’t think that I would order it again though since the other two dishes were more inspired and delicious. Also, I don’t think that the flavors of the truffle oil came through in the dish, which was a little disappointing.

The last plate to come out was the Tuna Ceviche made with Sushi Grade Yellowfin Tuna, Breakfast Radish, Ruby Grapefruit, Cashews, and Chilled Green Tea Noodles ($18). I really liked the combination of the acidic grapefruit with the tuna, and thought that the green tea noodles were a very fun accompaniment to the dish.  They had a nice soy flavor and the cashews added a great little crunch to each bite! This is something I would order again, but I didn’t think that portion size qualified an $18 price tag, which was my only complaint with the restaurant.

Tuna Ceviche with Ruby Grapefruit, Cashews, Radish, and Chilled Green Tea Noodles

Overall, I thought that the food was very good, but that there wasn’t any dish in particular that I would specifically crave again–besides the Tuna Melt Starter perhaps! My parents did warn me that the best thing that they have tried on the menu was the Black Tea Glazed Spare Ribs with Pine Nuts, Toasted Sesame, and Spicy Ginger Ice Cream (yes, ice cream and pork….together!), but we didn’t order it because they wanted to try some new things. I regret not ordering this dish, because had I liked it as much as they do, it would have been a dish that would call me back in the future. I mean how many places do you know serving meat and ice cream in one dish?! It is a very unique and specific menu item like this that keeps a crowd returning because they can’t satisfy their craving elsewhere. Tonight, I didn’t have anything that was extraordinary or unavailable elsewhere…so I suggest ordering the most unique menu items here rather than playing it safe like we did!

Black Tea Glazed Spare Ribs with Spicy Ginger Ice Cream – Taken from Honey Facebook Site

This being said, I must now say that I have never EVER had better restaurant service in my life. The service and the atmosphere at Honey was absolutely impeccable from beginning to end. Our server knew the menu by heart and was able to talk about the food at length, and he was just a genuinely nice guy. Although I only gave Honey 4 stars for food, the service gets at least 15 stars!!

The Front of Honey Restaurant – Taken from Honey Facebook Site

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La Stalla ****

La Stalla from the Outside

18 Swamp Road
Newtown, Pa 18940


The thing that I take most for granted living in Miami, is the abundance of incredible restaurants. This is not to say that I don’t eat at them enough—because I do eat out a lot—but I just have become so accustomed to there always being a delicious food option of any variety at every price point. You want French food? There is a hole in the wall French bakery that can satisfy you with the best croissants and brie sandwiches for less than $5 (Le Royal). There is also a little brasserie in the grove that serves the best ceasar salads for $12 (Le Bouchon du Grove). Or you can splurge and enjoy a truely memorable foie gras and braised short rib burger for $30 (Db Bistro Moderne). And Cuban food? Well you can get that delicious anywhere, for either dirt cheap, cheap, or accurately priced. The only type of food that I believe Miami lacks in variety is Chinese. It’s weird, Miami only does upscale Chinese. There is no greasy, grungy, make you feel sick to your stomach (but all at the same time delicious) kind of Chinese food. Then again, this could be a great step in the evolution of American eating habits, so I won’t really complain—although I do crave my oil-drenched Lo Mien from time to time!

But enough of my tangent and back to the point! It wasn’t until this spring break that I realized just how fortunate I am as a foodie to be living in Miami. I’m back in Philadelphia for break and when my parents asked me to pick a place for dinner tonight, I suddenly realized that all the options were Italian. I love a good pasta dish and marsala sauce, but I also like to switch things up a little, and I just had Italian with Jen last night. But faced with choice of Italian or Italian, I chose my second favorite Italian restaurant (after Domani Star, where I ate last night) and decided on La Stalla located in Newtown.

La Stalla is more conducive than Domani Star for large parties, so we usually eat all of our special occasion meals here. Both the food and service are predictable and consistently good, and the atmosphere is cozy and elegant. Wednesday nights are a fun night for people watching, since all the divorcees have their big “off night” from the kids and tend to post up at the bar, decked out in their most cougar-ish attire. It’s dinner and a show.

To start, my family always orders the Tuscan Table which is an antipasti spread complete with Sharp Aged Parmesan Cheese, Grilled Asparagus, Roasted Portobello Mushrooms, Roasted Red Peppers, Marinated Hot Peppers, Kalamata Olives, Marinated Artichoke Hearts, and Beans in Vinaigrette. This plate is also accompanied by warm Tuscan Bread and herbed dipping oil. It is usually the highlight of the meal for me because I can pick at all the different flavors while I sip my first cocktail and read over the dinner specials for the evening. My mom and I have even come just for drinks and the Tuscan Table before, because it is that good! My family’s other favorite appetizer is the Mussels in Spicy Red Sauce, which are killer…enough said.

My Selections from the Tuscan Table

Tonight I ordered one of my favorite pasta dishes here—the Penne Puttanesca, which is Penne Pasta sautéed with Kalamata Olives, Capers, Onion, Parsley, and Cherry Tomatoes in a White Wine Pomodoro Sauce. I typically like to switch out the penne pasta for a linguine, because I like twirling my pasta (silly, I know), but tonight I had the penne and it was just as delicious. The sauce is a light red sauce and the capers and olives add just the right saltiness to the dish. Bets of all, the food at La Stalla is always burn-your-mouth hot! Even the dishes are blistering hot, so there is no pressure to eat in a hurry before your food gets cold.

Penne Puttanesca – Penne Pasta sautéed with Kalamata Olives, Capers, Onion, Parsley, and Cherry Tomatoes in a White Wine Pomodoro Sauce

My dad also ordered a pasta dish for his entrée and got the Farfalle e Gamberi, which is Bowtie Pasta sautéed with Shrimp, Grape Tomatoes, and Garlic in a Blush Pomodoro Sauce. I would never order a seafood pasta as my own entrée, but I had a few bites of his and loved it. The sauce was simple and delicious and they certainly weren’t scant with the shrimp either! My dad and I also split a side order of Broccoli Rabe with Sautéed Garlic, which was phenomenal. They added a ton of garlic which took away from the bitterness of the legume, and it wasn’t weighed down with oil so it felt nice and light.

Farfalle e Gamberi – Bowtie Pasta sautéed with Shrimp, Grape Tomatoes, and Garlic in a Blush Pomodoro Sauce

Broccoli Rabe with Sauteed Garlic

My mom dared to be different and ordered the Pork Chop Special, which was served with Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli Rabe. She was disappointed because the meat was well over-cooked and after a few bites decided to send it back and order a pasta dish as well. She ordered the Farfalle Mascarpone, which is Farfalle pasta sautéed with Mushrooms, Asparagus, and Grape Tomatoes tossed in a Creamy Mascarpone Cheese Sauce. The dish was rich, as expected, but the flavors were spot on and the pasta was perfectly cooked. It was an upscale macaroni and cheese, and it certainly delivered the same comfort. I was also impressed by how quickly they managed to get her new dish to the table. She waited no more than 8 minutes, and they gladly took the Pork Chop off the bill.

Pork Chop with Broccoli Rabe

Roasted Potatoes

Overall, La Stalla is a great place for a romantic date or a large group celebration, a cozy indoor meal or a relaxing meal out on the garden patio, and the outdoor bar scene is great during the summer with bocce ball courts not far off. I would recommend the pastas, and note that you need to specify that you only want a half order if you choose not to do the meal family style. My family is not good at sharing food and so we never do family style!


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Domani Star *****

Chocolate Pudding Pots

57 West State Street
Doylestown, Pa 18901


Spring break—it is the time of year where college students across the country descend upon vacation resorts such as Cabo, San Juan, Miami, Cancun, and other sunny locales to partake in much debauchery, which usually results in wicked hangovers, unsafe sex practices, interesting photographs (which usually inhibit ones ability to obtain employment post-college), peeling and splotchy skin, a burning sensation when urinating, post-spring break alcohol withdrawal, and of course, great memories! Everybody does the aforementioned spring break at least once while in college, but only the crazies desire to do it twice. Instead, I decided to head home for spring break this year, back to freezing cold Philadelphia. Rather than packing swimsuits and tanning oil, I packed my wool sweaters and suede boots. It sounds a little miserable to most, but you have to remember that I go to school in Miami…I’m on spring break all year!! I need this time to relax and recover, and that’s exactly what I have been doing. I got home a few days ago and my schedule since has been sleeping, waking to eat moms home cooking, napping due to food coma, mid-day cocktails with my best friend, napping due to mid-day drinking, blogging, and eating out at my favorite restaurants. I am living the dream, while most other college kids are being served watered down sugary drinks at all inclusive resorts where they can’t drink the water or eat the food due to sanitation problems. Not jealous one bit!

Not only am I eating while at home, I am eating like a queen! After a few martinis yesterday, my friend Jennifer and I decided to go out for dinner. We were a tipsy and decided to splurge on a good meal, as food is never too expensive when you’re drunk! We headed over to Domani Star located right in the center of Doylestown. It is an Italian restaurant that has been one of my favorites for years. They serve both lunch and dinner, and now more recently even brunch (although, I think dinner is their specialty!). They have a small indoor dinning room, with bar seating available, as well as outdoor side-walk seating for when the weather is nice (which it is not yet!).

In light of the recession, Domani Star now offers a pre-fixe dinner menu on weeknights, which includes your choice of an appetizer, entree, and dessert. Unfortunately, the pre-fixe menu items are not the same as the regular menu, but there is a very decent selection. Jen and I both ordered from the pre-fixe menu, which has a set price of just $24 (thank you Domani for the recession prices!). We both ordered the Bruschetta, which is grilled Tuscan bread rubbed with fresh garlic and extra virgin olive oil topped with fresh diced tomatoes and herbs. The portion is enormous, more like half a loaf of Tuscan bread and the flavors are incredible. My only suggestion is do not order this if you are on a date because the garlic will repeat on you for the rest of the evening. Even if you brush your teeth? Yes. Not even Listerene will get rid of the taste. But it is delicious and worth eating if you are spending a night alone or just with friends watching a movie, as I did.

Bruschetta – grilled Tuscan bread rubbed with fresh garlic and extra virgin olive oil topped with fresh diced tomatoes and herbs

For the entrée we also ordered the same thing—we are best friends so we are a lot alike. We got the Chicken Francese, which is boneless chicken breast dipped in egg batter and then cooked in a white wine lemon sauce, served over top golden Yukon whipped potatoes and grilled asparagus. The portion was just perfect and the food was piping hot, even the plate was burning hot! The chicken was tender and juicy and the sauce was fairly light on butter, which was a refreshing change for franchese. The asparagus were super delicious and all the stems were already cut off and the Yukon potatoes were to die for. Domani Star has by far my favorite mashed potatoes. They are incredibly rich and laden with butter and calories, but they are simply delicious and worth the calorie splurge. I actually order my entrees here based on whether or not they come with the potatoes. Sadly, it is generally the deciding factor!

Chicken Francese – Boneless Chicken Breast Cooked in White Wine Lemon Sauce, Served with Yukon Whipped Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus

For dessert, we ordered the Warm Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream and Homemade Whipped Cream and the Warm Bread Pudding served with Bourbon Sauce and Fresh Berries. Jen and I both agreed that the bread pudding was the star of the two, but it was certainly rich and the two of us didn’t even finish the one small piece. Of course, this is because we were also sharing the chocolate cake, which was good but not exceptional. If you are luck enough to go on a day when they are serving the Chocolate Pudding, you must order it because it is the most incredible dessert ever for a chocolate lover!

Warm Bread Pudding served with Bourbon Sauce and Fresh Berries

Warm Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream and Homemade Whipped Cream

Although the menu changes seasonally and frequently at Domani Star, the one item that never comes off the menu is their Polpettine dei Bacaro di Venezia, which are their famous homemade meatballs made with beef and veal meat, served lightly breaded and fried golden brown with lemons, herbs, and Parmigiano cheese. This is the menu item to try at Domani Star and it gets it’s name because it is served the same way that meatballs are prepared in the wine bars of Venice.

Polpettine dei Bacaro di Venezia – Homemade Meatballs made with Beef and Veal, served Lightly Breaded and Fried Golden Brown with Lemons, Herbs, and Parmigiano cheese


My other favorite appetizer from the regular menu is the Polenta e Gorgonzola, which is an oven roasted polenta cake with creamy Gorgonzola sauce, and fresh rosemary. It is a little bite of heaven. It is rich but the portion is small so it is not overwhelming or too filling to have with an entrée. My mom and I usually order one to share before our meal!

If you do go for lunch, I recommend ordering one of Domani’s sandwiches, which are always served on grilled Tuscan bread and accompanied by with either pasta salad, mixed greens, or french fries. I usually order the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich or the Pork Tenderloin Sandwich. If you are in the Doylestown or Bucks County area, I would highly recommend Domani Star for a great Italian restaurant, which is also BYOB!

Breaded Pork Sandwich served on Grilled Tuscan Bread with French Fries




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Modo Mio *****

Bucatini All’Amatriciana with Pancetta and Parmesan Cheese

161 W Girard Avenue
Philadelphia, Pa 19123


Although the streets of South Philly do not have the glamour typically associated with Rome, the ethnic neighborhood definitely boasts some of the best Italian food in America. Several generations of Italian immigrants have settled in South Philadelphia, sharing their cuisine and selling their groceries on the curb of 9th street, which is known as the Italian Market. On this narrow and crowded street you can find stores such as Di Bruno’s Bros. for the best cheeses and olives, Sarcone’s Bakery for freshly baked breads, and Isgro’s Pasticceria for cannolis that are literally, to die for! Of course, there are also some truly amazing and authentic Italian restaurants too! Since I am always on the hunt to find great Italian food (as it is my favorite kind of food to eat), I was very excited when my mom told me that we would be trying Modo Mio on Girard Ave for a family dinner. It was highly recommended by one of my mother’s Italian friends and it also had really great online reviews.

Upon arriving at the restaurant, we walk in and find that we are the first diners of the evening. But when we asked to be seated at different table, we quickly found out that we would not be the only diners of the evening; every table had already been reserved. So we took our seats and got to interrogating the waiter, which is what my mom and I do at every meal (of course, while my dad rolls his eyes in annoyance!). We ask what dishes are most popular and which ones are house specialties. We ask about the business and the background of the owner and/or chef. And we also try to find out the best way to order at each restaurant. Our waiter at Modo Mio suggested doing the “La Turista Menu,” which is a four-course meal composed of an appetizer, pasta, entrée, and dessert. And for the price of just $33, none of us could resist! The best part was that it was not a pri fix or limited menu. You got to order off of the regular menu and select one item of your choosing from each category. But before we even had the opportunity to order, food was already being brought to the table. We received a plate of complementary Bruschetta Toasted topped with Grilled Eggplant and Cinnamon as well as Fresh Grilled Ciabatta Bread with Homemade Ricotta Cheese and Olive Oil infused with Porcini Mushrooms. My mom always says that you can judge a restaurant by the quality of its bread, and you better believe that we all got pretty excited for our entrees after trying this stuff. It was amazing! The ricotta was as creamy and smooth as butter and the olive oil had a tremendous earthy flavor from the mushrooms. The bread was also fantastic with a nice crispy crust and a soft warm center. The eggplant bruschetta was unique because of the cinnamon spice, but I thought it was a nice touch that rounded out the flavors well.

Grilled Bruschetta with Eggplant and Cinnamon

Now that our appetites were going, we got to ordering our courses. For my appetizer I had the Creamy Potatoes with Lump Crab and Sweet Roasted Red Peppers. I was unsure as to how it was going to be served, and I was pleasantly surprised when it came out on top of more of that delicious bread!! It was definitely a rich appetizer, but it was too good to leave any behind. The crabmeat was abundant and not overshadowed by the potatoes. The roasted red peppers were perfectly placed atop the whole dish, and they added a great sweetness to every bite. I also tried the Mussels in Spicy Red Sauce, which were so tender and the best that I have ever had out! The sauce was great with salty capers and just the right amount of red pepper flakes for heat. My sister ordered the Egg Dipped and Fried Mozzarella Grill Cheese Sandwich with Lemon Caper Sauce, which I thought would be the grand-daddy of all grill cheeses, but I was disappointed by the strength of the lemon sauce. I thought it was too pungent and overwhelmed what could have been a really great dish. My other sister, Hannah, ordered the Calamari Stewed in Red Sauce with Capers and Olives. I thought it was good, but still prefer crispy fried calamari (call me unrefined…but at the end of the day they taste better to me!). I also had a bite of my dad’s Seared Scallop atop Fried Chickpea Pancake. The chickpea pancake was fabulous and so was the scallop, but the portion was rather small for my liking.

Calamari in Red Sauce with Capers and Olives

Fried Mozzarella Grill Cheese Sandwich with Capers and Lemon Sauce

My favorite course of the meal was the pasta! The next time I go to Modo Mio, I am going to ask to order two pasta dishes instead of an entrée. I ordered the Buccatini Amatriciana, which is a thick homemade spaghetti with pancetta in a spicy red sauce. The pasta was actual perfection, from texture to cook time, and the sauce was very nice. It was rich (and a bit oily) because of the pancetta, but worth every calorie! The Gnocchi with Porcini Mushrooms, Peas, and Pancetta in Gorgonzola Sauce was also rich, but undoubtedly the best gnocchi I have ever had the privilege of tasting. They were soft delicate pillows of potato and pasta that melted in your mouth. I was also pleasantly surprised by the gorgonzola cream sauce, which in some miraculous way tasted light! The purses of gnocchi were not swimming in sauce, but lightly coated in it, which was nice. I think that this is the must-try menu item at Modo Mio. My other favorite pasta dish was the Carmelli Pasta Purses filled with Taleggio Cheese in a truffle-rosemary butter sauce. This dish was probably the richest of all the pasta dishes, but also really, really, good. Taleggio cheese is very strong (sometimes called the “stinky cheese”) but when it is melted and gooey, it is delicious. My least favorite pasta was the Lasagna topped with a Fried Egg. I thought it was too rich to even taste good. The plate was covered in oil and the fried egg was just too much. I only had one bite and found that I couldn’t get the greasy feeling out of my mouth, so I would have been disappointed to have ordered this as my meal.

Homemade Gnocchi with Peas, Pancetta, and Porcini Mushrooms in a Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

For my entrée I ordered Skirt Steak with Green Olives and Fried Chickpeas. Although it was cooked perfectly, and tender and juicy, I thought it was way too heavy after all the previous food that I had eaten. I enjoyed the finely chopped green olives atop the steak, but the fried chickpeas, which were done in little flattened strips (an Italian version of the French Steak Pomme Frites) were far too oily. I only had a couple of bites of my entrée, and would have been satisfied without it. I would definitely recommend ordering a fish as an entrée, because it is on the relatively lighter side. My dad ordered the winning entrée, which was Grilled Swordfish with balsamic caramelized onion, golden raisins, pine nuts radicchio, smoked mozzarella, and rosemary pangrattugiato. This flavor packed entrée, just seems to melt in your mouth. It was by far my favorite entrée.

Grilled Swordfish with balsamic caramelized onion, golden raisins, pine nuts radicchio, smoked mozzarella, and rosemary pangrattugiato

Grilled Skirt Steak with Green Olives and Fried Chickpeas

And last but not least, DESSERT! The four courses add up to a lot of food, but please make sure that you save room for dessert because it is worth stuffing yourself uncomfortably for. My family decided to sample 1 of every dessert rather than each ordering our own, so that we could have a greater variety. We had Flour-less Chocolate Cake (very dense and tasty), Torta Della Nonna (with orange flavor and shaved caramelized apple topping), Chocolate Hazelnut Pie (dense, rich, deep nutty flavor, delicious), Panna Cotta with Cranberries (the panna cotta had no vanilla flavor and was dull, the cranberries were too sweet and too syrupy), and Tiramisu (one of the best tiramisu’s that I have ever tried, fabulous!). If I were to go back again, I would order the Torta Della Nonna or the Tiramisu and definitely stay away from the Panna Cotta.


Assorted Desserts at Modo Mio

I honestly think that this is one of the best food deals to be had in the city. Not only is it a lot of food for a reasonable price, but it is also incredibly delicious! I would love to go back, and would highly recommend it to others.


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Phở & Beyond ****

Phở Chin – Vietnamese Soup with Rice Vermicelli, Brisket, Cilantro, Basil, Lime, Jalapeno, Bean Sprouts, Onions, and Scallions

47 Easton Road
Willow Grove, 19090


It’s freezing here in Philly. So cold, that it was actually too cold to snow the other day—something I didn’t even know was possible! Of course, being accustomed to the heat of Miami, I am desperately looking for ways to warm up. I’ve taken up residence in front of my fireplace at home, wearing obnoxious down-feather slippers, and layering on North Face’s, but I think the best way to get warm is from the inside. And that means eating soup….lots of it!!

Since neither my mom or I felt like shedding enough layers to cook a pot of homemade soup ourselves, we decided to go out for some Vietnamese Phở at Phở & Beyond in Willow Grove. If you aren’t familiar with Vietnamese food, you might be wondering just exactly what Phở is. Here’s a little food for thought:

Phở is a beef noodle soup that is considered the “National dish of Vietnam.” The rich and aromatic Phở broth is prepared by boiling beef and chicken broth for twelve-hours along with spices and herbs such as ginger cloves, star anise, cinnamon, lemon grass, and cilantro, which creates a distinctly unique flavor. The delicate broth is then traditionally served with rice noodles and either sliced brisket or eye round steak. Most places also provide an accompanying dish of bean sprouts, lime, basil, cilantro, and jalapeno peppers to be added to the soup by the customer, according to desired taste.

As you may have guessed by the name, Phở & Beyond is particularly well known for their Phở, which is truly incredible!! When you walk into this restaurant and look around, almost every single person (90% of which are Vietnamese) has an oversized, steaming plastic bowl of this soup in front of them. And there are no doubts as to the authenticity of this place, because Vietnamese chatter is the soundtrack to your meal. If it’s good enough for natives, then it’s got to be the real deal!

I order my Phở with well-done brisket, lending it the specific name Ph Chin as opposed to Phở Tắi, which is with rare eye round.

The brisket is sliced super thin and it compliments the flavor of the delicate broth just beautifully. One of the only problems Phở presents for American diners is the actual eating process—aka getting the contents of the bowl into one’s mouth. The soup is served with two utensils; chopsticks and a porcelain soup spoon. This means that you need to coordinate eating the noodles with chopsticks in one hand and spooning the broth to your mouth with the other. It is a process that takes some getting used to and you can expect to feel entirely frustrated as the Vietnamese natives around you effortlessly devour their soup in a timely fashion. I am the fastest eater out of anyone I know, but the required eye-hand coordination of this feeding process brings me to a grinding halt and forces me to eat slowly.

Being a spice lover, I enjoy my Phở with jalapenos, which adds an unexpected heat to the delicate broth of the dish. I also like adding the fresh bean sprouts, which nicely contrast the soft rice noodles in their crispness. Oh, and the lime juice is a must because it adds the perfect amount of acidity to the soup, without a noticeably strong lime flavor. Also, my adopted Korean sister showed me that the best way to eat the meat of the soup is to pick it up with your chopsticks and swirl it in some hoisin sauce and/or Sriracha (Asain hot sauce) on a separate plate. I love condiments and dipping sauces, so I chose to eat mine this way and loved it.

Also good at Phở & Beyond are the Búns, which are rice vermicelli noodle dishes, occasionally served in lemon grass broth like soup. My dad ordered the Bún Đạc Biet, which is a house specialty containing grilled pork, grilled chicken, petit egg rolls, grilled shrimp, rice vermicelli, shredded lettuce, cucumbers, pickled carrots, and mint. All of this is then topped with crushed roasted peanuts and served with homemade fish sauce. It sounds like everything but the kitchen sink, and it kind of is, but some how all of the meats, flavors, and textures work together in an incredibly delicious way. I enjoyed bites of my dad’s dish just as much as I enjoyed my own soup. This dish is also a little bit easier to eat, especially if you ask for a fork!

Bún Đạc Biet – Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli with Pork, Chicken, Shrimp, Egg Rolls, Bean Sprouts, Cucumbers, Pickled Carrots, and Shredded Lettuce

My mom decided to have a light lunch and ordered the gỏi cuốn, which are garden spring rolls containing shrimp, pork, vermicelli noodles, cilantro, cucumbers, mint, and lettuce wrapped in rice paper and served with homemade hoisin-peanut sauce. The portion was really large for an appetizer, especially at a price point of just $4.50!! I would definitely order these again.

All of the portions are enormous (left-overs for sure) and the prices are really cheap. My Phở was only $7.50 and my dad’s fully loaded Bún was only $9.95. These are recession prices people, so go eat here to warm up for cheap this winter!

Condiments for Pho – Lime Wedge, Jalapeno, Bean Sprouts, Cilantro, and Basil

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Tony Luke’s Cheesesteak *****

Tony Luke’s Cheesesteak with Onions and Provolone

39 East Oregon Ave
Philadelphia, 19148


Whenever I tell someone that I am from Philly, they inevitably ask me the question, “Pat’s or Geno’s?” It’s been a highly publicized cheesesteak rivalry in South Philadelphia for about 40 years now. Here’s the history:

Pat Oliviere was dubbed the creator of the Philly cheeseteak back in 1933, serving his sandwiches in the Italian Market in South Philly until he opened up his own place called “Pat’s King of Steaks,” which is still open for business today. His original steak sandwiches were not served with cheese, but Joe “Cocky Joe” Lorenzo made the provolone addition a few years later, and thus the Philly cheesesteak was born! In 1966, Joey Vento sparked some competition and opened Geno’s Steaks directly across the street on the corner of 9th Street and Passyunk Ave. The biggest difference between Pat’s and Geno’s is that Pat’s chops the meat and Geno’s does not. But you can expect the same rough Philly attitude at both spots…whether you’re a local or not. You’ve got to order the right way, or you’ll be sent to the back of the line (which can get pretty long….so just practice you’re order and get it right the first time!). You say the ingredient first followed by “wit” or “witout.” For example, “whiz wit” (translation: with Cheez Whiz) or “onion witout” (translation: without onion).

The classic Philly cheesesteak is with onions and cheese whiz, but I find the heavily processed, fluorescent orange liquid offensive and stick to provolone (there is also the choice of American cheese too).

I am going to withhold any commentary on the Pat’s and Geno’s feud (which tends to be a bit of a tourist trap in my opinion) because I believe that Tony Luke’s is the real deal, serving the best cheesesteaks and roast pork Italian sandwiches in the city. Its a little glass-enclosed area underneath the I-95 overpass with an ordering window and picnic tables (make sure you bring your jacket and scarf in the winter because it gets cold out there!!). Its nothing fancy, but does good food have to be?!?

Ordering Window inside Tony Lukes

My dad and I stop to get a Tony Luke’s steak sanchwich on our drive home from the airport every time that I fly back from school. And we each get the same thing; Cheesesteak with sharp provolone, onions, sweet peppers, and mushrooms. It is juicy, greasy, meaty deliciousness!! I unwrap my sandwich as if it’s a present, rip it into two halves with my hands, and then savor every bite of tender meat and gooey cheese (which is always perfectly melted). There is nothing like a Tony Luke’s cheesesteak, I promise! Once you try one, you will never enjoy another steak sandwich again. Tony Luke’s is also famous for their Roast Pork Italian Sandwich with spicy roast pork, garlic infused broccoli rabe, sharp provolone, and drizzle of gravy. I have never had it, but apparently it’s so good that converts even the biggest cheesesteak fanatics into roast pork eaters.

Forget Pat’s, forget Geno’s, Tony Luke’s is where its at….even Adam Richman from Man V. Food knows that. Below is a clip from his episode at Tony Luke’s. Go for yourself though!

Tony Luke’s Italian Roast Pork Sandwich



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Cantina Dos Segundos *****

Chicken Quesadillas with achiote chicken, poblano peppers, roasted corn, and queso fresco.

(215) 629-0500
931 N 2nd Street
Philadelphia, Pa 19123


This afternoon, my family and I spent the day in center city Philadelphia viewing the Cleopatra exhibit at the Franklin Institute. The exhibit was really great, but in all honesty, I was just excited to eat at my favorite Philly restaurant, North Third, on our way home. You see, tonight was a “last supper” of sorts for me because I am having my wisdom teeth removed tomorrow. Thus, I have spent my entire day trying to enjoy all of my favorite foods before being sentenced to a week’s diet of apple sauce and ice cream…the very thought of which I find depressing. When I asked my friend Jennifer if she had any advice for my impending tooth extraction, she replied, “sure, if there is anything at all that you really want to eat…eat it, and eat it NOW!” So for my final meal, I knew that I wanted the succulent roasted chicken breast with rosemary jus and garlic mashed potatoes from North Third restaurant and bar. However, when we arrived at the eclectic gastropub located in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia, we were told—much to my dismay—that the kitchen didn’t open until 5 O’clock. We had to come up with a new game plan for our early dinner, and so we headed down the block to a popular little Mexican spot my mom noticed on her last trip to Northern Liberties. For those of you who don’t regularly follow my blog (shame on you!), my plan B is always Mexican. I am just infatuated with the spicy and bold flavors that Mexican food has to offer, and I find that it is often a pretty safe bet. I mean, it’s rather difficult to screw up fried, spicy, cheesy, salty food…those adjectives alone make my mouth water.

We found our way to Cantina Dos Segundos and after just a brief look at the menu, I had completely forgot about my dreamy roast chicken dish and was now looking forward to some crispy nachos and salsa verde! To drink, we ordered a large pitcher of Red Sangria, which was only 5 dollars! That’s right, a pitcher of Sangria for a staggering $5. I guess the perk to eating dinner at senior hour, is that it is usually also still happy hour! The Sangria was so good that we actually asked for the recipe, which was sadly kept from us. We then ordered Chicken Nachos as an appetizer, which were served with roasted corn, pickled jalapenos, black beans, pico de gallo, crema, and melted cheese. I am not kidding when I say that these were the best nachos that I have ever tasted. The chicken, which was all white meat, was shredded and stewed in a spicy tomato sauce that had incredible flavor, and there was plenty of it on the nachos. One thing is for sure, Dos Segundos is not stingy on their nachos toppings, and every nacho has equal topping opportunity (a.k.a you don’t get 5 delicious topped nachos on top and then a bunch of plain, soggy, nachos underneath…is that not the worst?!). Best of all, this huge and beautiful nacho platter (elegantly drizzled with crema) is only $6 for a small and $10 for a large. You have the option to top it with chicken, steak, or vegan beef. I’m not really sure what vegan beef is—it sounds like an oxy moron in my opinion, but I highly recommend the chicken!!

For the main course, I ordered the Chicken Quesadilla, with achiote chicken, poblano peppers, roasted corn, queso fresco, and guacamole. It was a little salty for my liking, but none-the-less delicious and a perfect portion size. I topped it with the incredible Salsa Verde that was brought out at the beginning of the meal with the starter chips, and the flavor combinations were just awesome.

My father ordered the Puerco en Salsa Verde, which was braised pork shoulder, tomatillo, avocado leaf, and epazote salsa served with a side of pinto beans, white rice, and stewed zucchini topped with queso fresco. We all agreed that this unique dish was the best at the table. The pork was so tender and the zucchini tasted like it was stewed in the same amazing tomato sauce as the nacho chicken.

In fact, my mom loved the chicken nachos so much that she ordered them as her entrée too! My sister on-the-other-hand, ordered the Alas de Pollo, which were fried chicken wings coated in a red chile and bacon pipian salsa, served with celery sticks and a homemade blue cheese ranch dipping sauce! I’m not a big fan of wings because of the bones, but everyone seemed to enjoy them.

Overall, this place was fabulous and a great value. The appetizers were huge portions sizes that were suitable as entrees and all of the food was flavorful, fresh, and homemade. You can absolutely tell that there are Mexican’s cooking the food in the kitchen because it is so authentic. I wish that this place was in Miami so that I could enjoy it more often, but I will definitely be back when I am in the Philly area again. It is a must try place.

Fresh Guacamole and Chips

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