All’s Fare: Four tasty and fun ideas for foodies

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By Bill Gelman

It’s party time on Washington Avenue, more specifically 1807 Washington Ave. The address is home to Chick’s – the popular gastropub that was named a SPR Readers’ Choice runner-up for best new restaurant. The one-year anniversary celebration will be a full-day affair on Sunday, April 22 from noon to 7 p.m. and serve as a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Pediatric Cancer Research. The Business, the Readers’ Choice winner for local band, Felicia Punzo, DJ Johnny Looch, Jerry Blavat, Benny Marsella and Bob Pantano are a handful of the local entertainers booked for the event. There will be plenty of food, drinks and live music. For more details, visit facebook.com/chicksphilly.

Just in time for the new season, Le Virtù, South Philly’s Abruzzese-inspired restaurant, is rolling out some events and menu items from new chef Damon Menapace and owners Francis Cratil-Cretarola and Cathy Lee. Menapace brings a new, vibrant vision of rusticity to the restaurant, and his new menu honors old-world traditions while highlighting both local and Southern Italian ingredients.

“Chef Menapace has embraced our mission of honoring the traditions of Abruzzo with our approach to dining,” says Cratil-Cretarola. “His no-fuss, straightforward interpretations of rustic dishes allow the ingredients to star. This new menu introduces Damon’s style to the community on East Passyunk, and we’re proud to offer this simple but, above all, inspired cucina povera without pretense in a casual joint right in the heart of South Philadelphia.”

Mussels and calamari (poached mussels, calamari, cannellini, olives and hot pepper), gnocchetti (mushroom ragu, cicoria, garlic and parmigiano reggiano), Scrippelle (ricotta-filled crepe with eggplant, tomato and pecorino) and roasted lamb (green meadow, Farm polenta and broccoli rabe) are some of the dinner items.

In terms of special events, Le Virtù is hosting a festive Southern Italian Wine Dinner with The Artisan’s Cellar on Wednesday, April 18. The meal will feature four courses for $75, excluding tax and gratuity. The wines will focus on Abruzzo and Southern Italy, and will be paired with dishes created by Menapace highlighting ingredients and preparations from southern regions. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. Weather permitting, the party will move outside in the garden patio.

Dine Out for Life, the annual dining fundraiser event raising money for AIDS service organizations, is taking place on Thursday, April 19. Restaurants will donate 33 percent of their food sales to the cause. Villa Di Roma, 936 S. 9th St., Taproom on 19th, 2400 S. 19th St., Stargazy, 1838 E. Passyunk Ave., SliCE, 1180 S. 10th St., Noord, 1046 Tasker St., and Bing Bing Dim Sum, 1648 E. Passyunk Ave., are among the many participating South Philly restaurants. To see the complete list, visit diningoutforlife.com/philadelphia/restaurants.

The biggest burger event of the year – Philly Burger Brawl — is returning Sunday, June 3. This culinary competition, which started in 2011 to fund the technology needs at William M. Meredith Elementary School, 725 S. 5th St., is so popular these days that it fills the Xfinity Live! parking lot, 1100 Pattison Ave. All the proceeds from the event are used to finance technology and literacy programs within underserved schools in the School District of Philadelphia. For more info, visit phillyburgerbrawl.com.

Have food or restaurant news to share? Email news@southphillyreview.com.