While some Philadelphia restaurants are offering incredibly appealing takeout and delivery options, there are certain dishes that are currently unavailable due to coronavirus-related closures — looking at you, Dizengoff hummus and pizzas from Pizzeria Beddia.
For restaurant fans who have suddenly found themselves standing in their own kitchens night after night, staring in the cabinet and wondering what to make, not all is lost. Anyone can try their hand at recreating popular Philadelphia dishes thanks to a lineup of contemporary cookbooks from chefs like Mike Solomonov and Joey Baldino.
Here’s a short list of cookbooks worth checking out from chefs who have helped shape the city’s vibrant restaurant scene over the years.
When Steve Poses opened Frög back in 1973, the Philly restaurant was a game changer. Operating in the current location of Monk’s Cafe, the kitchen put out a menu of dishes like vegetarian chili and Thai chicken curry that were revolutionary for the city at the time. Poses continues to run a catering company as well as the restaurant at the Franklin Institute, but his most long-lasting legacy is a timeless carrot cake recipe.
White Dog Cafe Cookbook: Multicultural Recipes and Tales From Philadelphia’s Revolutionary Restaurant
Judy Wicks is another pioneer in the Philadelphia dining scene. Her first restaurant, the White Dog Cafe in University City, was operating under the ethos of “eat well while doing good” since it opened in 1983, long before farm-to-table was a thing. While Wicks parted ways with White Dog a while ago, recipes like ratatouille bisque and rosemary-parmesan biscotti have aged remarkably well.
This recently updated compendium of greatest hits from Philadelphia restaurants new and old is an all-purpose guide to eating around the city, whether you’re leaving the house or not. Brunch at home minus the wait with a smoked salmon Benedict from Sabrina’s Cafe, flex Filipino cooking skills with Lalo’s lechon kawali with garlic fried rice and tomato salad, or indulge in Vernick Food & Drink’s signature uni with soft scrambled eggs.
A meal at vegan destination Vedge usually leaves diners thinking Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby are invoking a bit of magic to turn rutabagas into creamy, cheesy fondue and eggplant into braciole. But all it takes is the recipes in their cookbook to make vegetables the stars of the dinner table — which sounds especially tempting after a few days of frozen food.
Anyone who has experienced the hummus at Mike Solomonov’s restaurants knows that the chef has a way with chickpeas. In his first cookbook, written with co-owner Steve Cook, hummus secrets are revealed alongside recipes for seasonal vegetable salatim and Zahav’s famed lamb shoulder. Solomonov and Cook’s 2018 followup, Israeli Soul, is a culinary travelogue of Israeli cities, complete with recipes.
With it members-only policy, scoring a table at Palizzi Social Club — a century-old hangout for Italian immigrants turned restaurant and bar — is a privilege only a small fraction of Philadelphians have had the pleasure of experiencing. Chef Joey Baldino, Palizzi’s owner and a third-generation president of the club, offers a peek inside the exclusive venue’s colorful South Philly history and recipes that tread the line between classic red sauce favorites and elevated takes on southern Italian fare.
If there’s one thing this iconic 80-year-old shop knows, it’s cheese. The staff at Di Bruno Bros. is well trained in the art of cheese pairing and general gourmet guidance. Local cheese aficionado Tenaya Darlington teamed up with the venerable cheesemonger to create a book that’s filled with pairing advice, deep cheese intel, and recipes that respect the curd.
Getting a slice of Joe Beddia’s pizza became a little easier with the opening of his full-service Pizzeria Beddia, but those pies are on hold for now while restaurant dining rooms are closed. So turn to his cookbook. Beddia dives deep into the trinity that makes for perfect pizza — dough, sauce, and cheese — and walks home cooks through the intricate but infinitely rewarding process of the pizzaiolo.