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Street festival of Flavors

East Passyunk Avenue’s annual spring foodie bash,
minus the big white tent, returns on Sunday

By Lindsey Nolen

Another huge crowd is expected on East Passyunk Avenue this weekend for the annual spring bash. Photo provided by EPABID

The extremely popular Flavors on the Avenue is getting a huge makeover this weekend. Instead of having all of the food vendors under the giant tent like in the past, event organizers have decided it’s time to take a fresh approach — move the five-block-long street festival onto the streets.

“The neighborhood has gotten so big, also so loving of Flavors, it was just time [to expand the festival],” Pam Zenzola, the executive director of the Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District since October, said. “There’s going to be some transition, but I think this is going to be the best year of Flavors yet.”

The event is taking place Sunday, April 30 from noon to 5 p.m. with 27 restaurants participating. There will be something for everyone to taste.

Brigantessa, 1520 E. Passyunk Ave., will offer a spanish-inspired chorizo sausage from southern Italy. Co-owner Francis Cretarola explained his paternal ancestors were from Abruzzo, and he hopes to highlight this delicious and quick-to-make cuisine.

If in the mood for more Italian food, Stoagie Joe’s Tavern, 1821 E. Passyunk Ave., should be another “must” on the list of event stops. Offering traditional and white pizza, it will also cook up its renowned meatballs, made with a 100-year-old family recipe and served on a kaiser roll.

Also using a secret recipe, Townsend, 1623 E. Passyunk Ave., will make roast pork sandwiches that are being designed for a new restaurant location, and will be served with a homemade hot pepper relish for $5.

“We’re working on a sandwich project and this is a variation of that, but it’s a little more appropriate for the festival,” chef Townsend Wentz said. “We can do one of a million things off our menu, but we really wanted to do something that’s more appropriate for a street festival.”

Known for their quality cocktails, Townsend also plans to serve a “bees knees” drink — a bright, citrus-driven mix featuring gin, lemon and honey. Additionally, the restaurant will offer a two-rum daiquiri made from lime, rum and simple syrup.

For those wondering about cost, there are two options. Attendees can purchase a Flavors Taste book for $50, and it will include one free bite from each restaurant, two glasses of beer or wine and valet parking. Others may prefer the pay-as-you-go option, with every restaurant having dishes for purchase between $3 and $6. Kory Aversa, the CEO and president of Aversa PR and Events, is no stranger to the Flavors scene. He said as the avenue changed and evolved over the years, more restaurants and retail stores have opened, and the opportunities for family activities have increased. As a result, both local businesses and community members requested a bigger spring festival, and thus this year the event plans to welcome thousands of people — not just the number who could fit under a tent.

“[Flavors of the Avenue] was one of the most sold-out, esteemed food festivals that there was,” he said. “There was always a waiting list of at least 100 people trying to get into that tent, including people who would line up for five blocks the morning of [the event].”

The avenue foodie scene is quite diverse, too.

Saté Kampar, 1837 E. Passyunk Ave., a Malaysian-style restaurant, will offer a variety of Malaysian teas. Mixing a variety of tea, coffee, condensed milk, evaporated milk and sugar, the drinks can be served iced or hot.

Bing Bing Dim Sum, 1648 E. Passyunk Ave., has settled on its Thai sunrise, made from tequila, lime juice, grapefruit juice and tamarind. It will also serve sweet corn rangoons and a barbecue pretzel bao. Making this dish unique from a standard bao, a steamed bread roll with a filling of meat or vegetables, it will be flash fried, brushed with alkaline and sprinkled with pretzel salt.

As for dessert — having just opened its doors on April 14 — Capogiro, 1625 E. Passyunk Ave., is another shop excited to let the community taste its products. General manager Falon Maokhamphiou said the favorites at his fine artisanal gelato and sorbetto shop thus far are the pistacchio, Italian chocolate chip and hazelnut flavors.

“Where else can you go and have so many ‘three bell’ restaurants, esteemed restaurants and even the best of the casual eateries and the bars all in one festival? [At this event] they will all be outside and in the street in front of their spots,” Aversa, who noted that East Passyunk Avenue was one of his first clients, said.

The street festival will also feature three areas of live music at the 1600, 1800 and 1900 blocks of East Passyunk Avenue, craft vendors and a variety of family-friendly activities including four kids zones. Additionally, from noon to 4 p.m., the Philadelphia Museum of Art will host an art exhibit in preparation for for an upcoming opening of “Inside Out…again” at The Gateway, at Broad Street and East Passyunk Avenue. The Museum will also be installing new reproductions of masterpieces around East Passyunk and is excited to celebrate at the Flavors on the Avenue Festival.

“Every end you go from, from Dickinson to Broad, there’s stuff happening. So make sure you visit the entire avenue that day, it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Zenzola said.

Spoiler alert: If you want to be surprised on Sunday, stop reading. Come hungry. For those wondering what the avenue chefs are cooking up for Sunday, here is the menu:

Bing Bing Dim Sum: pork buns, corn rangoon

Birra: pizza slices, plain and pepperoni

Brigantessa: chorizo cotto with whipped ricotta and peas

Cantina los Caballitos: Tacos al Pastor, Elote, classic and cucumber margaritas

Chhaya: fried chicken and waffles, iced coffee

El Sarape: Tacos al Pastor, pina coladas

Fond: salmon tartare with sesame, nori and avocado

Izumi: pork gyoza

Laurel: Chocolate egg cream pudding pops

Le Virtu: octopus and chickpea salad

Mamma Maria: cheese ravioli

Marra’s: Mozzarella pizza

Noir: arancini balls, watermelon salad

Noord: Bitterballen (Dutch meatballs with nutmeg and mustard)

Paradiso: Arancini Di Riso

Perla: pork belly, adobo with garlic rice

Plenty Cafe: Choripan (Traditional South African sandwich with chorizo, chimichurri, and pickled red onion on a baguette)

POPE: Zucchini feta fritters, Cashew teriyaki

P’unk Burger: Pulled Portobello sandwiches, Caprese pesto burgers

Sate Kampar: achat (carrots, cucumber, peanuts and chile sauce), sago gula melaka (sago pearls, coconut cream, palm nectar) and chicken sate

Stargazy: sausage rolls, potato masala rolls, sticky toffee sundaes

Stateside: house-made steam buns with duck confit, peppadew and radicchio

Stogie Joe’s: meatballs with toasted bread

Townsend: roast pork sandwiches

Tre Scalini: tripe in umido

Vanilya Bakery: buttercream cookies and cupcakes

Will BYOB: caramelized onion crepes, banana and caramel crepes

To purchase tickets in advance, visit flavorsontheavenue.ticketspice.com/flavors-on-the-avenue.

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