Archives: November 2013

The Empty Bowl Benefit Dinner

Posted on: November 21, 2013

The Empty Bowl Benefit Dinner, an important annual community service dinner, has been around for over 20 years.

On the night of the Empty Bowl Dinner, each person chooses a donated, handcrafted bowl. Soup donated from many businesses, schools, and individuals from Arcadia University and the surrounding community is eaten from these bowls. The bowl is then taken home to serve as a reminder of the many people who eat from an empty bowl every day.

This year, half of the proceeds raised were donated to the Philippines relief effort. Elfant’s Wissahickon REALTORS Jake Markovitz, Larry DiFranco, Rena Asher, Anita Lam, Amy Greenstein, Cathy Davis, and Chas Hendricksen volunteered their time for this wonderful event. Chas even took some great pictures, posted above. More information about this year’s Empty Bowl Benefit Dinner can be found HERE.


Posted on: November 18, 2013

Philadelphia has always been a world class city. For many years it has thrived in the areas of arts and culture, historical significance and architecture. However, until recently, Philly has never been known as a culinary hotbed.  Sure, there were a few heavy hitters, but nothing like it’s current offerings. These days, it seems Philadelphia gives cities like Chicago, New York and San Francisco a run for their money in edible excitement. We are a city of neighborhoods filled with BYOB’s, Iron Chefs and Ethnic Delicacies.

No neighborhood in Philadelphia has grown as much in recent years as Northern Liberties. Bordered by Girard Avenue to the north; Callowhill Street to the south; North 6th Street to the west; and the Delaware River to the eastPhiladelphia’s first suburb became a thriving manufacturing hub before succumbing to neglect in the second half of the 20th century. In recent years, the neighborhood has experienced an incredible resurgence. Now the neighborhood is a bustling enclave filled with young professionals and students, with tons of great restaurants and bars from which to choose!


Cantina Dos Segundos(Mexican) Excellent mexican cantina with vegetarian and vegan options.

Modo Mio: (Italian) Regional Italian cuisine, drawing inspiration from all across Italy, with classic theory

El Camino Real: (Mexican) Mexican Cuisine mixed with BBQ.

Dmitiri’s: (Greek) Greek and Mediterranean Cuisine.

Las Cazuelas: (Mexican) Authentic Mexican Food.

Il Cantuccio: (Italian) Very small family owned, cash only BYOB with traditional Italian fare.

Pura Vida: (Guatemalan) Lovely little Guatemalan BYOB, bring your own tequila for the excellent margarita mix. Burritos, tacos and large pasta plates.

Koi: (Japanese) Fresh Sushi, Sashimi and Maki rolls.

Hikari: (Japanese) Japanese with some Korean options. BYOB.

Circles: (Thai) Thai Cuisine with Vegetarian options. BYOB.

Tiffin: (Indian) Indian with vegetarian and gluten free options. Eat in or take out.


The Standard Tap: When Standard Tap opened its doors in December 1999, their goal was simple:  to create a neighborhood tavern that featured great beer and wholesome food.  With that in mind, they offer a draft-only beer selection that highlights the vast array of styles crafted by breweries located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.  The food menu both complements the beer and expands the notion of what pub food can be.  They use only the best available produce, poultry, meats and seafood — much of it from area farms and local vendors – to create fresh, seasonal dishes.

The Blind Pig: Over 40 canned beers and celebrated poutine.

The Abbaye: Belgian style pub with an impressive beer list and excellent food. Lots of vegetarian and vegan options.

Jerry’s Bar: Their approach to food and drink is simple, guided by affection for old world traditions and a commitment to seasonal freshness and house made ingredients.

North 3rd: Homey gastropub with lots of craft beers and comfort food.

Gunner’s Run: Gunners Run salutes the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that made Philadelphia the economic engine that it was…and still is. Situated prominently on the Piazza in Northern Liberties, the restaurant is owned by regional concert promoter Bryan Dilworth, tattoo artist and Olde City Tattoo owner Jason Goldberg, and music booking agent Tim Borror.


Rustica: Unusual pizza and sandwiches. Tip: try the brussel sprout pizza, if you are into that sort of thing!

Del Rossi’s: Tasty thin crust pizza and cheesesteaks.

Trios: Thin crust square pies to tickle your tastebuds.


Bar Ferdinand(Tapas) Celebrated tapas and wine bar

Silk City: (Diner) Diner and 3,000 square foot beer garden.

Honey’s Sit and Eat: (Diner) For some of the highest quality home cookin’ you’ll ever taste! They’re committed to using only the finest ingredients. Eggs are hand gathered from free range chickens in Lancaster County. The country bacon is locally sourced, and they use locally grown vegetables whenever possible. Even the mayonnaise is freshly homemade as are the salads dressings, soups and preserves.

PYT: (Burgers) Creative burgers and full bar. Features a burger of the week club.

Green Eggs Cafe: (Diner) Brunch style restaurant/cafe that takes pride in serving the highest quality fare while maintaining an eco-conscious philosophy.

Yards Brewing Company: (Brewery) Excellent Yards beer selection, coupled with a snack menu and bar games.

Ortliebs: (Pub Food) What was once a legendary brewery turned jazz institution is now a local music venue and gastropub.  Full menu served until midnight.

North Bowl: (Pub Food) Vintage style bowling alley with full menu and bar

Boardwalk Bar: (Seafood) Raw bar, pizza, sandwiches and desserts.

King’s Oak: (Pub Food) American Grill and sports bar.

There are also dozens of coffee shops, sandwich shops and other food options too numerous to list, and many new restaurants pop up almost daily. Bon Appétit!

Cookin' with Who? Wrap Up

Posted on: November 14, 2013

Elfant Wissahickon REALTORS proudly sponsored The Third Annual “COOKIN’ with WHO?” competition at the Lutheran Theological Seminary. This event was held for the benefit of three wonderful Northwest Philadelphia non-profit organizations; East Mount Airy Neighbors (EMAN), The Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), and Awbury Arboretum.

An overwhelming response was received from the community. Ten aspiring chefs provided their favorite recipes for the evening’s feast. Following in the successful footsteps of previous years Cooking Competition, Elfant Wissahickon REALTORS sponsorship and La Prima Caterers provision of food and expertise guaranteed a successful evening. There were no leftovers, which of course is a testament to the talented chefs. Winners were selected based on two parameters: taste and most money raised by individual chefs in support of each non-profit organization.

Although our own Larry DiFranco did not officially win the contest, he was a winner in our book! His Italian Wedding Soup was delicate, flavorful and boasted perfectly cooked orzo and tender delicious meatballs.
In fact, all of the nights’ recipes (which are revealed in the Program Booklet handed out to guests) were wonderfully executed and merited 2nd and even 3rd helpings!!

At the end of the event Larry said, “I am so pleased with the overwhelming response to this event.  Everyone had a great time, the food was superb, and it was a pleasure spending the evening with so many committed, and generous, community supporters.”

The Elfant Wissahickon Team would like to congratulate the winners: Mr. Dwayne Wharton of Awbury Arboretum who was able to raise well over $1000 through his many supporters and to the grand prize winner, Prof. Karyn Wiseman of LTSP. Her decadent Coca Cola Brisket earned her the coveted “Mt. Airy Platinum Spatula” Award and bragging rights.

~ Bravo Chefs! ~

Organizing and sponsoring such events encourage people to be more active in their community. It was a big team effort from everyone involved and an absolute pleasure to be part of it.
The evening was a wonderful display of professional cooking skills, community support and a well executed successful event.
We look forward to next year’s Cook Off where we can hopefully bring home the coveted “Platinum Spatula”!


Posted on: November 11, 2013

Philadelphia has always been a world class city. For many years it has thrived in the areas of arts and culture, historical significance and architecture. However, until recently, Philly has never been known as a culinary hotbed.  Sure, there were a few heavy hitters, but nothing like it’s current offerings. These days, it seems Philadelphia gives cities like Chicago, New York and San Francisco a run for their money in edible excitement. We are a city of neighborhoods filled with BYOB’s, Iron Chefs and Ethnic Delicacies.

Queen Village, a neighborhood with boundaries of Lombard Street to Washington Avenue, Front Street to 6th Street, encompasses two principal commercial corridors- South Street and Fabric Row. South Street was the countercultural hub of Philly in the 60s and 70s and is still a lively shopping and nightlife district. Many of the artists that were drawn to South Street in its earlier days still live in Queen Village, along with families and young newcomers. Queen Village has many wonderful restaurants from which to choose!


Dmitri’s(Greek) Fresh seafood and tasty mediterranean fare.

Marrakesh(African) Award willing Moroccan cuisine.

Bistrot La Minette(French) An authentic French Bistrot in Philadelphia.

Las Bugambilias(Mexican) A traditional Mexican restaurant located on South Street in Philadelphia. As chef and owner of this center city Philadelphia restaurant, Carlos Molina offers high quality, freshly prepared, Mexican food from three different regions in Mexico.

Leziz Turkish Cuisine(Turkish) Leziz Turkish Cuisine is a family owned restaurant specializing in authentic Turkish, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine.

South Street Souvlaki(Greek) Traditional Greek food on South St.

Tamarind(Thai) Authentic Thai Food. Fresh herbs and spices like lemon grass, sweet basil, coriander, galangal and kaffer lime help the food give its distinctive Thai flavor.

Creperie Beau Monde(French) Delicious Crepes, cocktails and more!

Mustard Greens(Chinese) A contemporary take on Chinese cuisine.

Alyan’s: (Middle Eastern) Middle eastern flavors in a casual setting.

Catahoula: (Creole) Cajun and Creole cuisine.

Fez: (Moroccan) A traditional Moroccan experience.

Sushi Planet: (Japanese) Sushi and sashimi at an affordable price.

Southwark: (Italian) Sourced ingredients from local farmers and co-ops in order to sustain and support local farms and economies. Southwark has built up relationships with multiple family farms to ensure that their produce, dairy and meats are at their peak of freshness and flavor when harvested. This results in a truly unique menu that is one of the freshest and most dynamic in the Philadelphia region. They strive to set the standard in the farm to plate slow food movement that is sweeping the region and nation.

Lovash: (Indian) Indian cuisine. Eat in, take out or buffet.


New Wave Cafe: Chef Evans Herbert has crafted New Wave’s diverse menu to include something for everyone; small plates for light appetites, deli-style sandwiches, fantastic burgers, a myriad of flatbread pizzas, delicious and unique salads, comfort-minded entrees, and indulgent desserts.

Kennett: Kennett Cafe originally opened its doors to the Queen Village neighborhood on July 4, 1924, and served the neighborhood until in 1986.  Current owners have reopened as Kennett Restaurant, which features wood-fired pizza and sustainably and locally-sourced food for vegetarians and omnivores, sixteen local craft beers on tap, twenty fine wines by the glass, local musicians on the sound system, and living wages for a family-oriented staff.  The owners also hope to make Kennett the city’s first bar and restaurant to achieve certification through the Green Restaurant Association.

Twisted Tail: The Twisted Tail is a Southern-inspired Bourbon House & Juke Joint, presenting an eclectic mix of American Whiskey and gastronomic offerings from a Charcoal Grill.


Lorenzo and Sons: Legendary Philadelphia pizza. Big and floppy!

La Fourno Trattoria: La Fourno has the ambience of a neighborhood Trattoria. They serve authentically prepared dishes from Abruzzo, Umbria & Tuscany all made with the freshest ingredients purchased daily from the local Italian market. Their breads, calzones, pannini’s and pizzas are baked in a wood burning brick oven.

Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizzeria:  A 60 year old recipe. Pizza is made in a coal burning oven.

Olympia Pizza: Greek owned Pizza shop on South Street. Grab and go.


Blackbird(Vegan) Blackbird Pizzeria is Philadelphia’s first and only all vegan pizzeria. We serve pizza, sandwiches, salad and dessert.

Bridget Foy’s: (American Eclectic) A South Street Tradition since 1978.

South Street Diner: (Diner) Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. A classic Philadelphia diner.

Ela: (Wine Bar) In November of 2011, chefs Jason Cichonski and Chip Roman partnered to open Ela, an inventive new American bar and restaurant in Philadelphia’s Queen Village neighborhood. Ela  showcases 27-year-old Cichonski, who Philadelphia Inquirer’s Craig LaBan called “one of our most exciting young chefs,” is combining an approachable menu of innovative dishes with an extensive wine and craft beer program and inspired cocktail list in a rustic-modern setting.
“Creatively, it’s wonderfully freeing to prepare food that doesn’t fit into any one genre or style; this is seasonal food, using exceptional ingredients, prepared perfectly,” says Chef Cichonski. Ela is a serious-yet-comfortable restaurant with a menu that that changes frequently throughout the year, to reflect the latest offerings.

Serpico: (Modern American) Serpico is a collaboration between James Beard Award-winning chef Peter Serpico and restaurateur Stephen Starr. Located on South Street, the 60-seater has a true neighborhood feel, with cozy booths, counter seating and a small bar at which the full menu is available. Serving dinner only, the cuisine is ingredient-driven offering a seasonally evolving menu of playful yet familiar takes on global fare.A small hand-picked list of food-friendly wines perfectly complements the menu and a quality cocktail program features boutique spirits.

Jon’s Bar and Grill: (Seafood, BBQ) Jon’s Bar is a neighborhood restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating which also happens to be the birthplace of Larry Fine, one of the three stooges.

Essene: (Vegetarian, Organic) Philadelphia’s premiere natural foods store since 1969.

There are also dozens of coffee shops, sandwich shops and other food options too numerous to list, and many new restaurants pop up almost daily. Bon Appétit!

American Street Corridor To Become Philadelphia's Next Neighborhood?

Posted on: November 7, 2013

The American Street Corridor, an area in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, has been blighted and barren for decades. The area was once alight with industry, beginning in the late 1800’s when the Reading and Philadelphia Railroads routed through the area, spurring a lively commercial strip filled with factories and repair shops, freight yards and tens of thousands of busy workers. But all of that is gone and has been for quite some time. American Street has been the badlands for decades, a place you simply didn’t go.

Around 20 years ago, Philadelphia was awarded a grant through the Empowerment Zone program for $79 million. The money was split between blighted, post-industrial zones in West and North Philly and the American Street Corridor. The money has been budgeted annually to foster business growth in the area, slowly building the area back. The Amer­ic­an Street Em­power­ment Zone bound­ar­ies are Gir­ard Av­en­ue to the south, 6th Street to the west, over Dauph­in Street, and up 4th Street, to the north by Le­high Av­en­ue, and to the east by Kens­ing­ton Av­en­ue down to Front Street, along Nor­ris Street and down Frank­ford Av­en­ue.

Recently, this corridor, which lies adjacent to real estate hot-spots Fishtown and Northern Liberties, has benefitted from the growth of its borders. Everyone from tech companies to coffee roasters are popping up in the area.

Recently, a number of residential developments seem to be in the works, which is an exciting development for the corridor. Could this mean the American Street Empowerment Zone could be poised to be the next great Philly neighborhood? Stay Tuned!

Further reading:

A brighter future for the American Street Corridor

Uncertainty and Ingenuity On Kensington’s Industrial American Street

Reclaiming American Street

Philadelphia Empowerment Zone (EZ)








Philly Eats: FISHTOWN

Posted on: November 4, 2013

Philadelphia has always been a world class city. For many years it has thrived in the areas of arts and culture, historical significance and architecture. However, until recently, Philly has never been known as a culinary hotbed.  Sure, there were a few heavy hitters, but nothing like it’s current offerings. These days, it seems Philadelphia gives cities like Chicago, New York and San Francisco a run for their money in edible excitement. We are a city of neighborhoods filled with BYOB’s, Iron Chefs and Ethnic Delicacies.  First stop, FISHTOWN:


Ekta(Indian) City Paper 2013 Reader’s Choice Awards Best Indian Restaurant.

Eatalia: (Italian) A small, inexpensive BYOB located in Philadelphia specializing in Northern Italian cuisine in a warm romantic atmosphere.

Jovan’s Place: (Eastern European) Jovan’s Place is a hidden gem of Fishtown/Nothern Liberties in Philadelphia. Family-run and Eastern-European, the pub dishes up home-cooked meals like schnitzel and stuffed cabbage. The smells wafting from this corner bar are divine.

Loco Pez: (Mexican) Loco Pez in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia near Northern Liberties is a dive bar and taqueria serving LA-style street food.

The Pickled Heron: (French) The Pickled Heron is a small BYOB in the heart of Fishtown. It is owned and operated by chef partners Todd Braley and Daniela D’Ambrosio. We are passionate about promoting local and seasonal products, staying in touch with the farms and farmers that supply us and producing artisanal breads and charcuterie to enhance the dining experience.

M Room: (Greek) This music venue / dive bar has a little known Greek menu. Best place for a quick Gyro, Souvlaki or Spanakopita.

Frankford Hall: (German Beergarden) Stephen Starr’s outdoor oasis in Philadelphia’s neighborhood is a deceptively simple concept – take a traditional German “biergarten” and give it a modern edge.


Memphis Tap Room: Memphis Taproom has: 10 draft beers, a seriously killer menu, a beer garden hot dog truck, two beer engines, a genuinely friendly staff and one amazing bottle list choc-a-bloc with vintage bottles that will inspire you to skip all the other events on your personal Beer Week agenda.

Johnny Brenda’s: This music venue and gastropub is one of the very first in Fishtown, and still one of the finest.

East Girard Gastropub: Located in the heart of Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood. Chef Rob Holloway creates seasonal, American cuisine of fresh, local ingredients for a savory, dining experience. The bar features microbrews, hand-picked wine selections, specialty cocktails, cozy hot-toddies, and a variety of stellar wine, beer and drinks.

Kraftwork: Food is the common block in community – and Chef Brian Lofink and his team have created an eclectic American menu with choices from small plates and shared boards to delicious entrée salads and sandwiches.

Lloyd: Lloyd boasts an extensive list of whiskeys (upwards 0f 70, though always changing), priced to encourage guests to try them all, in an environment free of pretension or stuffiness. Also featured are 8 local drafts and 15 bottled/canned beers, and a drink list featuring original house-crafted cocktails, while all classics are expertly made as well.

Bottle Bar East: The Bottle Bar East offers the largest selection of craft beer bottles and cans for take out or imbibing at the bar. We also boast a delicious menu that pairs wonderfully with a brew.Not only a take-out retail shop, BBE is also a place to hang out with other locals and beer fans. With an 8-tap bar, growlers, and a wall of coolers for take-out or drink-in, you can’t go wrong. On the mezzanine you will also find a dart board and foosball table. Bring your friends!

Interstate Draft House: Great selection of beers and hearty food menu and daily specials.

Fishtown Tavern: Neighborhood dive bar with some surprising (and very tasty) menu items.

Cedar Point Bar and Kitchen: Great beer list, southern comfort food with many vegetarian and vegan options!


Fishtown is ground zero these days for new and exciting Pizza shops. Below are some highlights of what is available:

Pizzeria Beddia: Open Wednesday-Saturday, No Phone, No Slices. Info updated on a Twitter Feed. Amazing Pizza.

Pizza Brain: Pizza Brain is an American pizza culture museum and pizzeria, and home to the world’s largest collection of pizza memorabilia and collectibles.

Art of Pizza: Stone brick oven pizza and an impressive list of sandwiches.

Franco’s Pizza: Old school Fishtown neighborhood pizza shop. Nothing fancy, but a solid slice.

Pizza Hub: Boardwalk style thin crust pizza.


Sketch: (Burgers) Philly’s award winning burger restaurant, complete with veggie and vegan options.

Fette Sau: (BBQ) Stephen Starr’s Philly by way of Williamsburg, Brooklyn BBQ restaurant.

Barcade: (Casual Dining) Another Brooklyn staple with a philly satellite. 80’s arcade games, craft beer and a solid menu.

Ida Mae’s Bruncherie: (Diner) Funky, old-school Fishtown brunch spot.

Sulimay’s: (Diner) A true Fishtown original. Solid diner food and low-key atmosphere.

Mugshots: (Diner) Shiny, traditional Diner in the 2424 E. York Street Building.

Coffee House Too: (Coffee Shop) Homemade sandwiches, salads and soups.

Whipped Bake Shop: (Dessert) Gourmet Cupcakes and Cookies.

Soup Kitchen Cafe: (Soup + More) Bagels, Breakfast, Sandwiches and, of course, soup!

There are also dozens of coffee shops, sandwich shops and other food options in Fishtown too numerous to list, and many new restaurants pop up almost daily. Bon Appétit!