January 23, 2013

The 2012 22nd & Philly Scarpetta Awards

Welcome everyone to the second annual 22nd & Philly Scarpetta Awards!

2012 was a banner year for us with some fantastic meals, events and new ideas started on the blog (The Nana Test, our first contest and more). The Scarpettas are our unique way of celebrating the best of Philadelphia and our favorite food experiences. Some we already blogged about, others we didn't have time for. At a minimum, you can follow pretty much all our food adventures on Twitter or Facebook (or subscribe to posts via email).

Why the name Scarpetta? Read last year’s awards to find out why we chose Scarpetta to characterize our own "Best Of" awards.

Without further ado, the 2012 Scarpettas go to...

Best New Restaurant: Rittenhouse Tavern. This was tough! There are excellent new restaurants opening every month in Philadelphia. Admittedly, we haven't eaten at them all, but of the ones we have tried, Rittenhouse Tavern became our consistent recommendation for everything from family dinners to dates to work events - and all who listened to us agreed. A close second was Jamonera.

Arctic Char at Rittenhouse Tavern
Seared Turbot at Rittenhouse Tavern

Why Did It Take So Long: Audrey Claire. The tweet to start our post says it all. From start to finish the meal was nearly flawless. We both had lamb and pork chops many times in 2012 but none topped Audrey Claire. The atmosphere while sitting outside on a perfect summer night is icing on the cake.

Best Restaurant We Dined At and Didn’t Write About: Cochon. The host at Blue Belly BBQ, which is owned by the same Guiffi brother duo, finally convinced us to make a reservation after years of good intention and, boy, were we thankful. Meat eaters must pack a bottle of red wine and go for the many delectable varieties of pork.

Best Brunch: Green Eggs CafĂ©. Wow! This place is pure genius with innovative savory/sweet options and monster serving sizes. The "Kitchen Sink" skillet was off the chart in terms of awesomeness and calories. Everyone in our party enjoyed the meal and we can’t wait to go back.

Kitchen Sink: Every bfast food on earth in one skillet
Fried chicken and waffles eggs bendict

Best Sandwich: Blue Belly BBQ’s pulled jerk chicken. This was a tough one to pick with so many great Sandwich Quest contenders. But the jerk chicken was the most memorable for me. Its triple threat of citrus aioli, pickled tomatoes and jerk sauce was the perfect combo to go with the tender chicken.

Best New Find: Dim Sum Garden. After discovering dim sum in San Francisco, we it made our solemn duty to find some Philadelphia options. We've been to Dim Sum Garden several times now and are never disappointed. It’s an excellent, cheap meal, ideal to comfort you on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Foo Truck
Best Food Truck: Foo Truck. We ate at a LOT of awesome food trucks this year. Given that, by August, Kristy tried every “foowich” on the menu and was caught by the owner detailing each to other folks in line, Foo Truck must stand above the very tough competition as this year’s fav. Lemongrass Chicken is her favorite foowich. And she never leaves without a red velvet cake ball.

We Didn't Want It to be So Good: Shake Shack. I avoided Shake Shack like the plague. Kristy went a month or so before me and despite her saying it was great, I still stayed away. The opening was the most overhyped, obnoxious event of the year by far. I mean, who waits in line for hours for a burger with SO many other great options available. But, despite all my annoyances, the burger did live up to all the hype. I now recommend it more frequently than I would have hoped.

Most Overlooked: McCrossen’s. For some reason, few people talk about McCrossen’s as a place to eat. We almost forgot about our own amazing meal at McCrossen’s during our nomination process. Maybe it’s the location or the tavern-like name, but the food was amazing. The braised short rib and boar ragu cavatelli were two of the better things we had all year.

Diner en Blanc
Best Food Event: Diner en Blanc. Getting dressed up and going out to dinner with friends is one thing. A candle-lit, high-class picnic with 1200 new BFFs under the stars, overlooking a beautiful fountain and begging to become an all-out dance party is like nothing you've seen before.

Amateur Chefs of the Year: Brian of Bridges, Burgers & Beer and Kaitlin of I Can Cook That. These two fellow food bloggers invited us and others to a Tiny Food Party that embodied all that food experiences should – good conversation, fun memories and great eats. Kudos to them for putting so much work into it. You can host your own with lots of good recipes from the book, Tiny Food Party!

Texas Hold 'Em at Hot Diggity
Best Haute Dogs: Hot Diggity. The battle of the haute dogs became a local trending topic in 2012 with the opening of Underdogs, Maui Dogs and The Dapper Dog to take on slightly-more-established Hot Diggity. We put each through the paces and Hot Diggity arose as the clear winner. However, we both did enjoy the sausages from Underdogs and Kristy is a big fan of Dapper’s food truck dogs.

Vegetarian Redemption: HipCityVeg. My vegetarian sandwich quest hit rock bottom in early '12, leading to a tough post about the vegetarian sandwich branding crisis. I figured this class of sammies was finished. Then came the Crispy HipCity Ranch from HipCityVeg for a bit of redemption. It’s still the only vegetarian sandwich I would recommend to an omnivore.

Loco Pez Nachos
Best Nachos: Loco Pez. On our first-ever trip to Fishtown, great Mexican eats and happy hour margaritas at Loco Pez quickly made us feel right at home. Nothing was more memorable than the nachos though, which had everyone at our table raving. Go early to get a seat and don't leave without eating the nachos.

Excursion of the Year: Tie between NYC and San Francisco. We posted twice about SF - the first a throwdown between SF and Philly on food/sites, the second full of tips for a Napa/Sonoma visit. New York was just 24 hours but filled with as many great memories. It's easy to get wrapped up here at home, or overwhelmed figuring out where to eat in NYC. Keep it simple with a quick overnight and use our walkable itinerary to stretch your stomach to the max: Momofuku Noodle Bar, Chelsea Market,  Eataly, NoMad, Spotted Pig, Employees Only, The Standard, Murray's Bagels, cheap pizza. Then go back another time and explore a different section of town.

Favorite Photos You Never Saw: Thanks in part to Instagram, here are a few of our favorite local shots taken this year that we didn't use on the blog. Don't forget to follow us on Instagram.

Courtyard sky at Talula's Garden
Hot Chocolate at Ultimo 
Meatball sandwich at DiNic's
Tiles for sale at Rittenhouse Craft Show


A and J said...

Amazing post, once again! Of course, I love the shout outs to some of our favorites, but the Shake Shack mini-rant was also hilarious (and I totally agree).

Unknown said...

Awesome post! Also, thanks for awarding me a Scarpetta!

Bradd said...

Thanks for the kind words all. I enjoyed the Shake Shack mini-rant too, ha.