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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

A new taste of old South Philly

Junior’s Beef & Pork set for grand opening on April 29.

By CT Liotta

Stepping into Junior’s Beef & Pork, 1840 E Passyunk Ave, something feels different. On an Avenue revitalized with swanky eateries run by top-tier chefs, Stephanie and Gino DeJesse, and their son Gino, are keeping a foot in Passyunk Avenue’s Italian past.

Gino DeJesse and his mother Stephanie DeJesse outside their East Passyunk Avenue shop which opens Friday.

 

You won’t find the cigarette smoke and sticky-floor feeling of a classic South Philly roast-beef-and-pork den – but the food will be old-school fresh. In a colorful dining area behind an inviting storefront, Gino points out the newness of the kitchen. “There’s no range hood. There doesn’t have to be because there’s no grill. We serve everything the old way, from a steam table.”

Stephanie adds, “we use old recipes, like our grandparents used. The sausage, peppers and onions taste like what grandma used to make.”

The old-style food will meet the younger Gino’s abilities to stay current. “We’re working with Grubhub and Uber eats, and should be up and running with them soon. We’ll take plastic, because most people don’t carry cash. We’ll also sell and deliver beef and pork by the pound, for people who want it.”

The ingredients are remarkably fresh, with daily deliveries from Liscio’s bakery and pork from Esposito’s. “We want to attract a crowd of both old and new people on the Avenue,” says Stephanie. The classic South Philly menu includes roast beef and pork, meatballs, sausage, long hots and sharp provolone, but also newer vegetarian options – salads, and an eggplant sandwich with roasted peppers, rabe and sharp provolone.

Both mother and son are especially excited about the Caesar dressing. “It’s my husband Gino’s secret recipe,” said Stephanie. “People rave about it. We may sell the dressing by itself.” The elder Gino also oversees the meatballs. The younger Gino is responsible for one of the most popular menu items. “The chicken parm fries were something I made up one night. They became a hit, and now they’re on the menu. Fries, tomato gravy, cheese, and chicken parm.”

The DeJesse family, from 11th and Moore Streets, has been in the catering business for 20 years. In 2017, they opened the first Junior’s Beef & Pork in North Wildwood, New Jersey. It’s named after Stephanie’s father, who passed away in 1997 and whose silhouette has become part of the signage and brand. “It’s in honor of him,” said Stephanie. “He brings us good luck.”

The shop will open on Friday, April 27 and hold its grand opening on Sunday, April 29.

http://www.juniorsbeefandpork.com/

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What's Happening in:  All over South Philly 

Stories for a good cause

Foodies take note! Stories that may make you drool will be flowing at a benefit for the South Philly Food Co-op tonight. That’s when award-winning storyteller Hillary Rea brings her live storytelling show to the Adobe Cafe, 1919 E. Passyunk Ave. The event will feature a colorful line-up of storytellers sharing true stories inspired by the evening’s At the Table theme.


Alison Fritz, Operations Committee chair for the Co-op, said the idea for the event came from Rea. “She is a member-owner and near neighbor of the Co-op. She recognizes that it takes the power of our membership to get our store open. She was looking for a way to use her storytelling skills and connections to benefit our capital campaign.” To tie-in with the Co-op’s own story, Rea proposed a special, food-focused edition of her bi-monthly, Tell Me A Story event.

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing :  Lower Moyamensing :  Passyunk Square 

Flavors on the Avenue street festival returns this weekend!

Over 100 vendors, 24 restaurants, live music, and free family fun to highlight event.

by CT Liotta

The East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District will hold their annual Flavors on the Avenue street festival this Sunday, April 29, 2018, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The city’s first big restaurant festival of the season will feature five blocks of street food, seasonal sips, craft beer, live music, sidewalk sales and free family fun. The festival runs along East Passyunk Avenue from Broad to Dickinson streets.  

Pam Zenzola, Executive Director of the East Passyunk Avenue BID, is excited about the changes from years past. “We listened to comments from last year. This year, we are a pay-as-you-go event. No tickets needed. If one person wants a taste of sushi at Izumi, someone else wants something from Cantina and yet another something sweet, perhaps from Vanilya, they may stop along the way and buy whatever they want.”

Flavors will also offer free family-friendly activities including a kids art and activity zone by Lume Creative Learning Studios at the Singing Fountain, a typewriter station at Dickinson, moon bounce and giant inflatable slide at the East Passyunk Gateway, kids’ crafts with Frame Fatale, and outdoor games for kids and adults of all ages. In addition, many boutiques and businesses along East Passyunk will host workshops, activities and family fun inside their spaces.

For those twenty-one and older, Founders Brewing Co. will offer a new tasting tent with free samples at East Passyunk Ave. & Mifflin St. “Once you have a little taste, you will want to purchase a beer at many establishments on the Avenue,” added Zenzola. “A map will guide you to the locations with Founders on their drink menu.”

While East Passyunk has the top eats in the city–and a thriving makers’ scene–the Avenue also boasts some of the city’s hottest new retail and fashion boutiques. Look for sidewalk sales, spring fashions, gifts, greenery and more along the strip.

Flavors on the Avenue is inspired by the BID’s former Flavors fundraiser held under a tent each year. In 2017, the event went out from under the tent and into the street. “We had no idea expanding it to a 5 block festival would turn out so well. The guesstimate was it would go from 2,500 people to about 6,000. By the time the event was over, 11,000 people visited our avenue! To say we were happy is an understatement,” said Zenzola.

 

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What's Happening in:  All over South Philly :  Pennsport :  Point Breeze 

Growth and consequences

We missed covering a number of stories while we were on hiatus.  Here’s the first of several news round-ups in which we play catch-up.

The population of Philadelphia neighborhoods east of Broad Street have grown at a faster pace than neighborhoods west of Broad, including in South Philly, reports Curbed Philadelphia. South Philly’s 19146 zip code (generally Broad to the Schuylkill, Lombard to Tasker) increased by 9.8% from 2000 to 2017.  The 19147 zip code (generally Broad to the Delaware River, Lombard to Tasker) increased by 20.6% during that same period. Each zip code boasts around 40,000 people, with 39,917 in 19146 and 40,490 in 19147.  

Chart courtesy of JLL Philadelphia via Curbed Philly.

 

Some of the population growth west of Broad Street has resulted in the displacement of long-term residents. Point Breeze needs “development without replacement,” writes Claudia Sherrod, a Point Breeze resident and South Philadelphia H.O.M.E.S., Inc. director, in an op ed on whyy.org.  “Over the past decade, Philadelphia has lost a fifth of its housing units that rent to low-income families. I understand real estate is a business but I believe there is a way to conduct business while respecting people of this community.”

And speaking of growth, over in Pennsport there’s Southwark on Reed. The 95-townhouse project built on the site of the former Mt. Sinai Hospital is “…rapidly approaching the finish line,” reports Naked Philly and “the development is completely sold out.”  Demolition at the hospital began in February of 2016.

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

For the love of gravy

By Joseph Myers

As Sunday’s 4th Annual East Passyunk Red Gravy Cook-off commenced at Ss. Neumann-Goretti High School, attendees heard the pleasant strains of Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore.” It was a fitting tune considering that a love for pasta’s pal – red gravy – had brought a crowd of 200 guests together.  The cook-off began with guests sampling 15 gravies, and ended with an unprecedented voting decision.

As the crowd grew, Samantha Gross, who organized the event for the East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association, kept busy trying to find more plates and cups to accommodate the throngs. “We experienced a problem that every event planner dreams of – we had a much bigger turn-out than last year – nearly 80 more. Luckily, we had amazing resources to pull everything off, and, in the end, everybody got sauced,” she said with a laugh.

“This event takes one of the many Italian-American traditions of the East Passyunk neighborhood – enjoying a pot of gravy with family – and blends it with the new neighborhood that’s developing around that culture,” said Darren Fava, who conceived the cook-off concept with fellow attendee John Raab. “We wanted to combine a food Italian-Americans love with the foodies who have come to love – and live in – our community.”  

Gross, who has lived in East Passyunk for a year, loved the mix of people the event attracted, “It’s great to see community and business leaders dining next to residents with their extended families. I’m very impressed at the outpouring of support from the community, especially the generous donations from our sponsors.” Continue Reading →

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South Philly’s ‘Secret’ Parks, Gardens & Green Spaces

Julian Abele Park, 22nd and Carpenter Streets. Photo by Friends of Julian Abele Park.

 

Now that Spring is finally here you might be looking for a quiet green space where you can enjoy the sunshine.  Curbed Philly posted a great list of 25 ‘secret’ parks and green spaces in the city.  South Philly was represented by eight sites from six neighborhoods:

We can think of a few ‘extra-secret’ South Philly spots missing from the list:

  • Ridgway Park tucked behind CAPA at 13th & Carpenter in Hawthorne, with its wonderful shade trees, a playground and a pool.
  • Mollbore Terrace – actually two separate green spaces located between Oregon Avenue and Johnston Street, 10th and 13th Streets.
  • Weinberg Park – a tiny green triangle on the border of Lower Moyamensing and Whitman.
  • Moyamensing Avenue medians – this linear green space divides Moyamensing Ave. from 15th to 20th.

Can you think of others?  Let us know in the comments below, and check out Curbed Philly’s piece here.

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