'Chew Philly' takes a bite out of Manayunk
If your taste buds are craving a quality spread of local cuisine, sprinkled with overlooked history and topped with a pinch of Manayunk culture, chew on this: Chew Philly has expanded its walking food tour into Manayunk, where even locals admit they learned a lot about their own town-- all while munching at six locally-owned restaurants.
"I grew up in Roxborough and I live in Mananyunk now. I didn't even know a lot of this stuff," said Lauren McNichols, who went on the first public Manayunk Chew Philly tour April 12.
"Even on the Towpath, it's crazy that I walk this way every day and I don't even know," added her friend, Julie Quincer.
The 90-minute tour begins at Marchiano's Bakery, a family-owned and operated Italian bakery that serves up a mean Sicilian tomato pie: Plump and soft dough topped with thick tomatoes and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Tomato pie, tour guide Elyse Castillo explained, is "something specific to Philly." In fact, Marchiano's food is so tasty that Frank Sinatra used to frequent it.
"The pizza was delicious, nice tasty crusty, great tomatoes," said Elliott Arshan, who went on the tour after seeing a Groupon deal.
Chew Philly takes as many as 14 people through Marchiano's and five other local eateries once a day, Thursday through Saturday, April to November. While the $45 cost isn't cheap, (children are $25), the tour offers much more than tastings.
"We enjoyed all the tastings, we learned a lot about the architecture and the settling," said Leslie Arshan, Elliott's wife. "There's a lot of history, a lot of stuff you wouldn't even know if you lived here." "The focus is family-owned places with real Philly food with second or third generation-owned restaurants," explained Castillo.
The 2.5 hour tour stops by Sorrentino's Deli, Marchiano's Bakery, Tasty Twisters, Angelo & Josephine's, Volo and Sweet Elizabeth's.
"My favorite food was the pretzels. I'm a sweet kind of person," said Arshan.
"Angelo & Josephine's is this city's best kept secret. The food here is so fresh, it's got the freshest, best hoagies I ever had in my entire life," said Michael Kurliand. "This place is what sealed the deal for me when I found out about it."
But Kurliand added that the tour is great for anyone looking to try a handful of different restaurants.
"I look for any reason to eat somewhere new. There's a lot of good restaurants in Manayunk. This is a good way to try a little of a lot of them," Kurliand said.
Castillo said the tour runs for about 1.5 miles, but Arsan said that might be an understatement.
"I think it might be more than what they tell you, but it's fine. You just better remember to bring your walking shoes!" she said.
The tour doesn't include drinks, except a hot drink at the fifth location, so it might be practical to bring a bottled beverage along with you. Chew Philly also sets rules, including no shopping in stores so the group is able to arrive at each restaurant on time. Guests also have to stay with the group.
And, Castillo said, if a guest is on a diet, "We're gonna ask you to put it in a box, tie it with a bow and set it aside. You're gonna experience a lot of food and we don't want you to miss anything."
For more information, go to Phillyfoodtours.com.
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One of the stops along the tour is Machiano's Bakery, a favorite of Frank Sinatra.