It’s not every day the pope comes to Philadelphia. But it is every day that Philadelphians gotta eat, and some of our favorite chefs and restaurants are getting in on the action with special dishes and menus in honor of the papal visit.
All month long at Le Virtù, Chef Joe Cicala and his team will serve a $45 prix fixe menu that draws from the restaurant’s mastery of cucina povera, or “cuisine of the poor,” nicely reflecting the pope’s devotion to the less fortunate. The meatless menu also honors the pope’s commitment to all life and to his namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi, and his mission of caring for animals; dishes like “meat” balls with pecorino cheese and torcinelli, beignet-style fritters normally reserved for the holiday season, will be served alongside an optional Italian wine pairing throughout September in addition to the restaurant’s a la carte menu.
Sister restaurant Brigantessa will also commemorate the pope’s visit with a “bar-side confessional” because “there are some things you’d tell a Brigantessa that you would never tell a pope.” From Friday, 9/25 through Sunday, 9/27, guests will enjoy special pricing on Italian drafts, including Peroni Nastro Azzurro (that’s “Peroni Blue Ribbon,” or the PBR of Italy, for those who parla Italiano) and Italian craft beers; in addition, Chef Cicala will prepare a special “pope’s hat pasta” stuffed with beets and sheep’s milk ricotta and served tossed with butter and poppy seeds.
Further north, at Di Bruno Bros., visitors to their Comcast Center, Rittenhouse Square and The Franklin locations can enjoy The Epiphany Sandwich, tenderloin of beef (holy cow!) with house-made mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, grilled romaine and chimichurri sauce on focaccia for $10.99; Di Bruno Bros. will also sell pope hat cookies, butter cookies lavishly decorated to resemble the pope’s famed headwear with icing and edible pearls, for $9.99 per lb.
Di Bruno Bros. isn’t the only one stepping up their saintly sandwich game: over at Jake’s Sandwich Board, they’ll feature a special menu during the pope’s visit, from Monday, September 21 through Monday, September 28: The Steak “Fran”wich, a brisket Cheesesteak with mild provolone and caramelized onions; The Holy Pork, with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe; and The Vatican Turkey, with black cherry spread, bacon and baby arugula. God bless. Sandwiches range in price from $8.50 to $9.50.
Need something to wash it all down? Raise a pious toast of Iron Hill Chestnut Hill’s Pap-Ale, a Belgian-style Abbey Dubbel brewed in honor of the papal visit. Loosely based on Trappist patersbier, a session ale brewed and consumed on festive occasions celebrating the monk’s simple life of prayer and austerity, the beer is a mahogany ale with the sweetness of dark Belgian candi sugar, plus aromas of plum and pear and the delicious addition of Pope Francis’ favorite drink, Yerba Mate, for earthy herbal notes.
Philadelphia is definitely ready for a papal feast.
In This ProTip:
Brigantessa (1520 East Passyunk Avenue, 267-318-7341)
Di Bruno Bros. (five locations across greater Philadelphia)
Le Virtù (1927 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-271-5626)
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant (11 locations in PA, DE and NJ)
Jake’s Sandwich Board (two locations, in Midtown Village and University City)