March 29, 2014

The 2013 22nd & Philly Scarpetta Awards

The Scarpettas are back!

22nd & Philly's annual food awards give us a chance to review all our food experiences from the previous year and give you a round up of our favorites.

Each year, a reader will ask us, why the "Scarpettas?" Quick background: the Italian phrase for using bread to clean your plate is "fare la scarpetta." It's perfect for our awards because one of the most telling signs of a great meal is whether Bradd cleans his plate with a piece of bread. To wit, winning a Scarpetta means you not only passed the test, but exceeded all others.

Serpico's Duck Buns
Without further ado...

Best New Restaurant: Serpico. The latest winner from Stephen Starr puts a fresh spin on modern Asian/American cuisine, with dishes like fried duck leg buns and diver scallops you'll talk about for weeks. We loved our meal from start to finish!

Best Sandwich: Border Springs Pulled Lamb Shoulder with piri piri sauce and crushed potato chips on brioche. Skip the lines for other things at Reading Terminal Market, hustle straight to Border Springs for a lamb sammie instead. Here's our first podcast with the owner, Craig Rogers.

Best Place We Never Wrote About: Han Dynasty. This place deserves all the praise it gets from everyone else and we wholeheartedly back up the popular claim that you're guaranteed to dream about Han's spicy Szechuan food within days of eating it.

Best Stop on Hoagie Quest: Salumeria's Italian Hoagie. What a way to kick off Hoagie Quest. We have yet to find better. Make sure you order it with the house dressing.

Most Innovative: Vedge. Also one of Philly's best overall restaurants, Vedge will change the way you look at vegetables and blow your meat-eating mind with how inventive vegetarian cooking really can be.

Best Find for Appetizers: Ants Pants Cafe is best known for brunch, but it's open for dinner now, too, and serves up some pretty good chow. Most notable is the nightly $5 mussels special. We are consistently impressed with the flavorful broth, plus it is a steal for that price. Go in nice weather to sit out back.

Best Food Truck: MacMart. Hot, gooey macaroni and cheese is the perfect food truck meal, made only better with toppings like Parmesan chicken, broccoli, bacon, cornbread crumbles or bbq sauce.

Best Bite: The Rotolo from Pizzeria Vetri. We can all get a bit overzealous about new restaurants and dishes, but Philadelphia's collective freak out over the Rotolo will never fade because it's just that damn good.

Behold: the Rotolo
MacMart's BBQ mac w/ blue cheese and breadcrumbs

Favorite Place in the 'Burbs: The Beer Shoppe in Ardmore. 1000 bottles, 2 taps and some kick ass hot dogs at the back bar. In a strip mall. It doesn't get better than that.

Best Soup: Nom Nom Ramen. 2013 was the year of ramen in Philadelphia. After multiple slurp sessions, we just keep coming back to Nom Nom as the best, with Terakawa a close second.

Favorite Food Excursion: Bistro Poplar. There are two things in Cambridge, MD, worth visiting: the Hyatt Regency for a weekend getaway and Bistro Poplar. Chef Ian Campbell returned home after training under Thomas Keller to open this hidden gem, where the combination of extraordinary food, service and atmosphere could stand up against any renowned French bistro.

Lamb kebab at Lahore Kebob House
Most Life Altering Moment: Exploring London's rival Pakistani kebob houses. Literally our last stop before heading to the airport, Lahore Kebob House blew us away with flavors unlike anything we'd had before and opened our eyes to a food culture that we're now obsessed with exploring in Philly (and cooking ourselves).

Why It's Good to be a Blogger: We ate lunch at Google. I mean, who does that?! We learned more about the most innovative company and corporate culture in the world than most people could dream, all because of food.

Best Food Event: Chowzter's Tastiest Fast Feasts Awards in London. We are exceptionally fortunate to be part of the Chowzter family, which is gearing up to take the mobile world by storm and help you know what to eat as you travel the globe. London Part II coming up next month.

Best Food Experience: The Fountain at the Four Seasons. By all standards, this should be the best combination of food, service and consistency, and it sure was. Get over your aversion to white tablecloth, save your pennies and just go at least once this lifetime.

Rival Bros French Press To Go
Favorite Beverage Trick: Rivals Bros French Press To Go. It makes Bradd's Friday mornings.

Most Dramatic Revisit: Percy Street Barbecue. We were not impressed with Percy Street when it first opened but a menu overhaul at some point in the last year or so made all the difference by the time we returned in 2013. Wouldn't hesitate to go back again today.

Best Italian BYOB of the Nana Test: Giorgio on Pine. A meal that would have made my Nana proud: great atmosphere, with simple, yet excellent food and a night that brought friends together.

Most Overlooked: Southwark. The fried chicken ballotine was one of the best things we ate all year. A rotating menu means you'll likely be able to try something new and delicious each time.

Best Deal: Free cheesesteak spring rolls at Davios when it was below 32 degrees out. Lord knows we had enough of those days; this made them a little more bearable. Hope they do it again next year.

... and last but not least,

Favorite Instagram Photos: (follow us here). 

Homemade brie with honey, walnuts and dried cranberries
Table art from the Cira Centre lobby

Cold sesame noodles at Cheu Noodle Bar
Shrimp Sui Mai at Dim Sum Garden

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