Monday, October 18, 2010

Gastronomic Adventures

I may have mentioned this before, I am a Foodnetwork junkie. I especially love the shows about great regional foods and where one might find the best of American cuisine. Iron Chef Michael Simon has a new show entitled Food Feuds in which he travels around the country and settles disputes over which establishments serve the best of certain local dishes. In its premier, Michael traveled to Philly to settle a meatball and gravy feud in Little Italy, and then settled the ultimate Philly Cheesesteak feud between local legends Pat's and Geno's.

We've been to Philly a few times and have had cheesesteaks at one of the two places . Our family has been in a dispute over whether those cheesesteaks came from Pat's or Geno's, as the two offer their cheesesteaks right across the street from one another. I was convinced we'd eaten at Pat's, Wingnut was equally sure it was Geno's. We even perused the internet for photos, menus, and maps of the area trying to settle our feud. But truly there was only one way to settle once and for all, we had to make a food road trip. Saturday morning we loaded up the 12 passenger and drove the 2.5 hours to the City of Brotherly Love, to not only settle our feud, but to try out the winner of the meatballs and gravy battle, Villa di Roma.

The Italian Market in Philadelphia is wonderfully remarkable. The streets are incredibly crowded with vendors, markets, and shoppers. Villa di Roma is right at the heart of Little Italy on 9th street in South Philly. We were there for one thing, amazing meatballs, and boy did they deliver! The atmosphere was very family friendly, although the facility is a bit dilapidated. Our server, Dominic, treated us like we were family. He was friendly, attentive, and truly great with all the kids. The meatballs and gravy were the best I have ever had; light, moist, and incredibly homey. The gravy or red sauce, was amazing; slow cooked with deep layers of wonderful flavor. Following lunch we meandered through the Italian Market, sampling chocolate, gelato, and italian espresso.

Before hitting Geno's for dinner, we headed to historic downtown Philadelphia and wandered the sites, stumbling upon a fantastic portrait gallery in the Second National Bank. The vast majority of the paintings were accomplished by Charles Wilson Peale and included portraits of all the major players in our nation's beginnings: Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Monroe, Paine, Lewis and Clark, etc. Following the gallery, we made our way to the Liberty Bell, which we'd seen years ago, but our little ones wanted their chance to see one of our famed national symbols.

Back into the van we piled and headed back to 9th street for our cheesesteaks. Sure enough, once we were there, we all recalled that indeed it had been Geno's we'd eaten at before. We grabbed cheesesteaks and fries with Whiz and made our way home with full and contented bellies.

As my father-in-law said, making a food trip to Philly for meatballs and cheesesteaks was just too weird of a story to be only imagined, it had to be done. That's the way we roll.

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Our Family said...

Your making me hungry! Sounds like it was a fun family get away.

Party of Nine said...

Wow! Love it! What a great idea. I love the pictures. The one of all the kids...perfect! Stat Boy looks thrilled, and I think you have to change Karate Kid's name to Karate Woman! She is so beautiful! I especially liked the last picture of you and guys are so cute :)

Natalie said...

Thats sounds like a great day! I love watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. I plan on going to a few of the places here in New Mexico before we have to move. =)

Anonymous said...

I want to be the 8th Mayerle kid! "I thought we were just going to be 7!"

Bruno and Debbie said...

WOW! What a wonderful roadtrip, we would've loved to have been able to tag along for that one!! While you were eating your fill of Italian goodies, we were mouse hunting in our cabin in Western Md. and foraging for some local good eats. Let's say that the former venture was far more successful than the latter!!! Maybe one day you can enjoy some meatballs and gravy at the Villa di Porfiri--now THAT'S Italian!! Thanks for sharing your story and awesome pictures. Ciao for now!