When Helen and I left our Mummer’s Row apartment for our house here on Letterly St. in December 2006, it was a sad affair. We left behind a delicious world of Italian bakeries and restaurants, as well as some great sandwiches, too, for a new neighborhood where the most obvious food options were Jovan’s Place, a quaint Yugoslav restaurant around the corner, and Key Foods Pizza across the street. It pains me to tell you that one evening we were so desperate for dinner we got takeout from — gasp — Applebee’s. It was probably our culinary rock bottom.
But there was light at the end of the tunnel. In the two years we’ve lived up here we’ve found some great food, whether it’s Memphis Taproom around the corner when we’re just looking for a quick bite and something to drink, or Bistro Juliana for the delightful Italian food we loved so much in our old neighborhood. But that’s not all! I recently made an early morning run to Czerw’s on Tilton St. for several pounds of smoked kielbasa and fresh-made pierogies. If there is a heaven, I hope it smells like Czerw’s. There’s great Mexican at Las Cazuelas, or quick Mexican at Taco Riendo. We’ve even found some decent pizza, having recently tried Santucci’s upside-down square pie. Now we feel like we have more options than we ever did back in old Pennsport.
We’re not alone. Our neighborhood has recently been a new focal point in local cuisine, featuring both newcomers and old. The amazing Rick Nichols recently ventured up Richmond St. in Port Richmond, highlighting all the wondeful Polish food the neighborhood offers. Think that sounds delicious? Then you should spend a Saturday afternoon with him on his Edible World Food Tour that’s being organized by First Person Arts! (I’ll add that you should check out the other New Wave Cafe up on Allegheny Avenue for a few rounds of strong Polish beer and more than your fair share of kielbasa and pierogies.)
Metro contributor and Foobooz writer Arthur Etchells also reps for our ‘hood in his recent article, “River Ward Steps Up.” He talks about some of the restaurants I mentioned above, as well as The Pickled Heron, a restaurant that will bring finer dining to Frankford Avenue later this spring. They also hope to take part in River Ward Restaurant Week! That’s really exciting, especially since there was some speculation about whether or not they would still be opening as the economy took the plunge. I can’t wait to try their menu!
When our friends Rick and Grace recently moved up to Letterly St. just two doors up the block, we assured them it was a great neighborhood that we’d been beta-testing for over two years. It’s a great area that blends old favorites like Jovan’s Place and Memphis Taproom. We have Greensgrow Farms and Philadelphia Brewing Company around the corner, too! Now when you think of Port Fishington, think food!