It’s that time of year again, folks. The time when Philadelphia Magazine dishes on the things it loves the most about Philly. "Essential" and "authoritative," Phily Mag’s “Best Of ” issue is a Philadelphia institution. Editor Larry Platt says it best: "We don’t just try to reflect your world and tell you what you like; instead, we try to influence your world, by spending all year combing the region in order to tell you what you should like.” This year, Philly Mag returns to some of the more basic categories and gives you something extra—a handy little “black book” that you can tear out and take with you anywhere you go, making the 2007 Best Of issue a must read.
Without further ado, here are a few highlights from Philadelphia Magazine’s Best of Philly 2007, Food & Drink:
Best New Restaurant, City: Osteria. Given the number of high caliber restaurants that opened this year, this choice could not have been easy for the folks at Philadelphia Magazine. Indeed, April White confesses there was “heated debate” over this category. But I could not agree more with this choice—Osteria captures the authenticity of the Italian dining experience by delivering high quality Italian food in a casual yet polished atmosphere. From the “fine handmade” pastas to the “ethereal” Polenta Budino, there is much to love about Osteria. Check out my Osteria review here.
Best Chef: Jonathan McDonald. Philly Mag likes Snackbar's Johnny Mac for the same reason I do: He’s the MacGyver of the kitchen when it comes to successfully combining seemingly incompatible ingredients. The guy is fearless. Give McDonald any three random ingredients and you can guarantee he’ll rescue your palate from boredom. You can find my Snackbar review here.
Best Entrée: The Roast Chicken at James. I know what you’re thinking. Chicken? Believe me, I, too, would be scratching my head had I not eaten Chef Burke’s Cornish game hen myself and written about it here. Burke’s secret is to select high quality meats and to cook them slow and low to concentrate the flavors.
Best Indian: Tiffin Store. I’ve taken great pleasure in introducing my friends to Tiffin Store. The downside to having done that, of course, is that it now takes me longer to get my delivery because the place is busier than ever. Quality Indian food at reasonable prices, you say? You better believe it.
Best Food Trend: The Sequel. This year, Philly took a page from Hollywood’s playbook and adapted it to the restaurant scene. Daniel Stern’s “Empire Strikes Back” with Rae. Marc Vetri, Philly’s “Godfather” of Italian cuisine, “pulls [us] back in” with Osteria. And thanks to Tinto, Jose Garces now has “Two Towers” on the Philly tapas scene. Next year’s Best Food Trend? I’m thinking it could be The Trilogy. After a diversion to Chicago to open Mercat later this year (which will feature Barcelonan-style tapas and charcuterie), Garces will come back to Philly to open Chilango, a Mexico City-inspired taqueria that (I kid you not) will pay tribute to Mexican professional wrestlers. Though it sounds more like “Nacho Libre,” if the success of Amada and Tinto are any indication, Chilango will herald the “Return of the King.” Either way, I’m getting my ticket in advance.
Want to know who won the Best Cheesesteak, City category? How about Best New BYOB? Best Pizza? Pick up your own copy of the Best of Philly 2007 edition of Philadelphia Magazine. It hits newsstands on Monday.