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Tag Archives | Italian Red Gravy Cook-Off

What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Mamma Maria Ristorante Italiano to Hold Polenta Event

By Joseph Myers

Growing up in Abruzzi as the fourth of six children, Maria di Marco adored time with her family, especially when she and her kin came together to eat. Particularly fond of her father Vincenzo’s culinary creations, the doting daughter sought to emulate the patriarch’s proficiency by preparing many Italian staples, notably polenta. On Wednesday, June 20, she will honor his example and show off her admiration for the cornmeal-based delight by making it the main dish at Mamma Maria Ristorante Italiano, 1637 E. Passyunk Ave.

“I want polenta to be the star for one night,” the proprietor said from the eatery that she has helmed for 26 years. At the $35-per-person event, di Marco will recall her days coming of age in the Old Country by making a version akin to her parent’s thin polenta. The gathering, slated to begin at 6 p.m., will mark the only time she will serve polenta this season. A vegetable antipasto and a salad will bookend the meal. The BYOB restaurant is happy to serve wine and offers complementary homemade limoncello to patrons. The lemony liqueur will also be the featured ingredient in an eponymous cake.

“I feel excited to be doing this because polenta means so much to me thanks to my childhood and my father.” di Marco credits her father for inspiring her career path, “He helped me to see I belong in the kitchen, and the time I spent learning that is something that I will never forget.” She recalls her family’s meals as unifying events. “We bonded so much when we ate, the eight of us,” di Marco said, “so I want others to enjoy the polenta and feel the same kind of warmth.”

Mamma Maria di Marco at the 2018 East Passyunk Red Gravy Cook-off.

Though customers who desire to dine at the restaurant that night need not order the polenta, di Marco, whose local clout includes having recently served as a judge for the East Passyunk Crossing Red Gravy Cook-off, hopes they’ll request the option, especially if they have never tried it. Regardless of the guests’ familiarity with the oh-so-tasty creation, di Marco will find herself in a festive mood as she fraternizes with the attendees, and her father will not be far from her mind.

“He was a very good man, and I’m grateful for all that he did for me,” she said, flashing a wide smile. She dubbed her father’s polenta “the best thing in the family,” and she looks forward to sharing this treat with patrons.

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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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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Get Your Gravy On

By Samantha Gross

This Sunday is your opportunity to weigh-in on South Philly’s best red gravy at the 4th Annual East Passyunk Red Gravy Cook-Off.  Try fifteen different types of gravy with pasta, New York Bakery bread, salad, and Triangle Tavern’s famous vegan meatballs. Sip complimentary Vin Café wine and finish off your meal with Rival Bros. espresso.  

The competition brings together amateur and professional chefs for a blind tasting.  Over $400 in prizes will be awarded to winners of the Judges’ Choice and Crowd Favorite. This year’s panel of judges includes Geno Vento of Geno’s Steaks, Councilman Mark Squilla, and “Mamma” Maria di Marco, owner of Mamma Maria Ristorante Italiano.

East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association President, Leon Malloy, calls the event, “A celebration of South Philadelphia.”  He adds, “East Passyunk is known for its amazing food scene, and this event really showcases that in a fun way. We look forward to this competition every year as an opportunity for everyone to get together, taste some delicious sauces, have some wine, enjoy homemade desserts and conversation.”

The event takes place on Sunday, April 22nd from 4pm-6pm in the Ss. Neumann and Goretti High School cafeteria.  Enter the event through the parking lot at 11th & Moore Streets. Tickets can be purchased here.  All proceeds benefit the East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association.  Kids 12 and under dine free!

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Attend EPX’s annual Italian Red Gravy Cook-Off in April

Do you have a secret red gravy recipe that you want to show off? Now’s your chance at East Passyunk Crossing’s annual Italian Red Gravy Cook-Off.

2016RedGravyWeb-page-001 On Sunday, April 10 you can enter your gravy in the competition, or just attend for the red gravy tastings and some complementary wine.

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