Take-out meals out of this world

The Great Northeast lives up to its old nickname. Read on and reviewer Craig LaBan will explain it to you. Also this week: The tastiest vegan donuts in Philly, your first glimpse of Nick Elmi’s Main Line restaurant, a tip on free Mexican food next week in the city center, and a word from a Vietnamese BYOB that just came from. ‘open on East Passyunk Avenue.

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– Michael Klein

Reviewer Craig LaBan knows the power of Northeast Philadelphia’s various dining options. (He basically wrote the book about it a few years ago.) He took another road trip, this time looking for some quality take out. He came back with 11 restaurants to recommend, serving cuisines such as Palestinian, Uzbek, Cantonese, and Italian-American.

Donuts are usually made with milk and eggs, and sometimes butter. This has traditionally resulted in a few bad vegan versions. But no more, says coworker Grace Dickinson, who has found plenty of herbal options – and she asked bakers for their secrets. Even so, don’t fry it at home.

After dietitian Gloria Walker was diagnosed with advanced bladder cancer, her son Dustin Vitale asked her what she really wanted to do. His answer: take a family trip to Egypt to see the pyramids. But such excursions cost money, and Vitale is a teacher at the college in Philadelphia. He concocted a fundraising idea: to make cheesesteaks and sell them. The campaign exploded.

Who would guess that the grounds of a former steelworks on the banks of the Schuylkill could be so spectacularly rustic? Chef Nicholas Elmi (Laurel, In the Valley) and Fia Berisha (ex-Aether, Mistral, Elements) are set to open the first of two Ironworks at Pencoyd restaurants in Bala Cynwyd, which houses a new Residence Inn by Marriott. The landing kitchen, an all-day café, comes out Thursday, March 11. With photos of my colleague David Maialetti, I give you a first glimpse of the interior. It’s captivating, you might say.

Oh, and here’s a tip for you: Elmi was hosting pop-ups from Curiosity donuts to Laurel during her winter inactivity period. The landing kitchen will have one on March 21.

Sofia Deleon, who brought Guatemalan street food to Center City in 2018 with El Merkury, will set up in April with a stand at Reading terminals market. El Merkury at the Market will be primarily for take out and will serve breakfast.

Chris and Thanh Nguyen, who own Melody’s grill in Ambler, came downtown with his business partner Denny Le for their second BYOB, Gabriella’s, which has just taken control of 1837 E. Passyunk Ave., the former home of Sate Kampar. They only slightly redecorated, as they think the Malaysian street motif works well with their Vietnamese-Thai approach. The Nguyens – he graduated in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales and Anna, as he’s called, was a Vietnamese student majoring in biological chemistry when they met here – don’t make a static Vietnamese menu; you’ll get a changing lineup including shareable platters of grilled meats and fish, shrimp with heads, plus dumplings, pho, and sumptuous fried rice dishes. Most entrees are in the $ 20 range. Sunday brunch, starting March 14, is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (brunch will extend to other days.) Dinner hours are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Meals on site / to take away.

The western suburbs and mainline will see plenty of food and beverage activity this spring and summer. Besides The Landing Kitchen and Lark by Nick Elmi, Di Bruno Bros. gets closer and closer to his location in Wayne. Avram Hornik is about a month away from opening Lola’s garden in Suburban Square in Ardmore, while Kevin and Cat Huan are opening a branch of their Szechuan / Taiwanese restaurant, DanDan, next door, in May. Now Justin Weathers and Chef Joe Monnich have a summer opening scheduled for Pizzeria Revival, which will be part of downtown Weatherstone in Chester Springs.

»READ MORE: An overview of restaurants slated to open in 2021

Taqueria Mission will have a place in the food court at Giant supermarket opens March 19 at Riverwalk, 23rd and Arch Streets. To keep it moving, they’ll be setting up a truck downtown next week to hand out free prepackaged servings of tortilla soup, tortilla chips, and guacamole. On Monday March 15 and Wednesday March 17 the truck will be at 1601 Market St., while on Tuesday March 16 it will be on Walnut Street between 18th and 19th Streets, across from Rittenhouse Square. The giveaway begins at 11 a.m. and food will be available while supplies last.

We are at the heart of Haddonfield Restaurant Week.

Among the restaurants that are reopening are The Virtu in South Philadelphia (March 15, outdoor only) and Front Street Cafe in Fishtown (March 12 for coffee and take out, March 15 for brunch and dinner to go, March 22 for regular dinner). I listed a bunch of others in “Let’s Eat” last week.




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