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Flavors of the Avenue answers appetites

The East Passyunk Avenue festival will mark its fifth celebration with assistance from a collection of rookie establishments.

By Joseph Myers
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Apr. 14, 2011

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These provisions from Monday are but a small sample of the food selections that will be available two weeks from Saturday. Twenty restaurants will spend five hours sating desires for scrumptious rations.

Photo by Greg Bezanis

Combine 20 food purveyors with hundreds of eager tummies, and what is the result? Renee Gilinger hopes it will be the most successful Flavors of the Avenue yet.

As the East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District’s main street manager, she oversaw Monday’s A Taste of Flavors preview event at Urban Jungle, 1526-30 E. Passyunk Ave. This year’s main celebration, set for 1 to 5 p.m. April 30, will rely heavily on numerous first-time participants.

Flavors, which resumed last year following 2009’s cancellation, lets the avenue’s diverse eateries delight patrons’ palates with top dishes and potables. It wards off any inclement weather with a sprawling tent and provides immediate satiety to stomachs and gobs of potential business to the vendors. A consummate pursuer of novelty for her stretch, Gilinger will welcome the talents of recently opened locations and will look to maximize the day with two post-Flavors events.

Monday’s gathering united most of Flavors’ contributors, blending seasoned places with their younger brethren.

“This is a very nice thing they are doing,” Nevila Brami, owner of Mondial Café, 1941 E. Passyunk Ave., said of the preview.

The Northeast Philadelphia resident and native of Albania opened her business Dec. 4, bringing her fascination with healthy food to the area. For the 90-minute preview, she offered stuffed eggplant and tzatziki, an appetizer composed of strained yoghurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, olive oil, pepper, lemon juice and parsley, with a pita.

“We want to bring some European style,” she said of her presence on the Avenue.

That style will make for a nice addition to the main event, which will run between Morris and Dickinson streets.

“Building on the success of last year’s Flavors, we will have more food, more drinks and a bigger tent this year,” Gilinger said.

Some of that food will come from Joseph Massara and Robert Reilly, co-owners of Salt & Pepper, 1623 E. Passyunk Ave. Formerly located in Bella Vista, the facility opened the week before Christmas.

“We’ll do anything to support the neighborhood and the businesses,” Massara, who claimed to live “two steps away,” said of joining Flavors.

At the preview, the proprietors offered a roasted beet and pineapple salad with baby arugula and goat cheese and rosemary onion soup with Parmesan crostini, kalamata olives and mascarpone cheese.

“We didn’t want to get left out,” Reilly, of 13th Street and Oregon Avenue, said of his first assignment at Flavors. “We respect all the restaurants.”

Jesse Spalletta, owner of 2-month-old Plenty, 1710 E. Passyunk Ave., sounded equally proud.

“I wanted to open a place near my home,” the resident of 13th and Federal streets said.

She enthusiastically accepted a call from Gilinger to participate in Flavors, seeing her avenue mate as a key figure in helping her spot to thrive. To Monday’s assembly, she presented a tasso ham panini and macaroni and cheese. Other victuals await those who attend the grand event, furthering her desire to offer “comfort food with a new twist,” grub coming mostly from local farmers.

Already the co-owner of one successful business, Green Eggs Café, 1306 Dickinson St., Stephen Slaughter hopes to score plaudits with libations from his yet-to-open venture Stateside, which should start its mission to focus on everything American within three months. The Marconi resident offered gravy and biscuits from Green Eggs.

“We saw a window, a niche that wasn’t being take care of — cuisine, style and food,” Slaughter said of adding his talents to the Avenue.

“We saw it as a dual thing,” he added of his Flavors involvement. “We get our name out there and help out the neighborhood.”

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