As foodies, we look forward to March in Philly when we’ll enjoy imbibing a green beer along with Corned Beef and Cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. Just two days later, those with both Catholic and Protestant heritages will be celebrating a Feast Day, also known as St. Joseph’s or the Italian Father’s Day, while dining on different signature dishes.
St. Joseph is the patron saint of pastry chefs. During the Middle Ages Sicily suffered a terrible famine due to the lack of rain. The people prayed to St. Joseph and it rained. It has since been a custom to lay baked goods and sweets on the alter in honor of St. Joseph on March 19th.
Traditionally speaking foods on this day of feasting include St. Joseph’s Cake/doughnut. Technically, the cakes are more like a doughnut and are known as Zeppoli (or Zeppole in Italy) and stuffed with vanilla custard, ricotta cannoli filling or the highly desired chocolate custard.
More Delectable & Historic Dishes
As with any holiday, we don’t need to limit ourselves to just one or two dishes, but instead, expand our palates to partake in other foods. For example, on St. Patrick’s Day, consider making my recipe for Erin Go Bragh Soup made with a pound of Irish bacon, onions, carrots, celery, turnips, red potatoes, and cabbage. Did you even make it to cabbage or did I already have you at “made with a pound of Irish bacon?”
In case you’re unaware, Erin Go Bragh is not a person, but rather an English or Americanization of Éire go Brách, literally meaning “Ireland till the end of time.” First heard as a battle cry during the Irish Rebellion of 1798, it was also brandished on their flag and the phrase is often used as an utterance of Irish pride.
Top Irish Spots
For those who would rather dine out than stay in and cook on these special days, here are the top three Irish and Italian eateries in the Philly area. We’ll start off with Ireland since it comes first alphabetically and St. Patrick’s Day precedes St. Joseph’s on the calendar.
Along with their established dishes, at The Plough & Stars, diners will enjoy traditional Irish music played every Sunday night from 5:00 p.m to 7:00 p.m. Their food is described as being “Western European with a strong Irish” influence and they were awarded Philadelphia’s Best Brunch by CitySearch.
This modern Irish pub is located in Center City and is a great place to grab a Guinness or enjoy some cocktails with friends and family. With plenty of five-star reviews, Fados is a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
Moriarty’s place is rich in history with twenty-eight beers on tap and more to choose from in bottles, there’s something for everyone at this popular pub. For special celebrations, there are two private dining rooms available for a VIP setting.
Best Italian Eateries
Diners enjoy live piano music on Saturday and Sunday evenings at this quaint, out-of-the-way eatery located in a scenic area of Philly. There’s plenty of pasta dishes to choose from along with other European and seafood selections.
Best Sicilian cuisine in the City. “Monsú delivers bold flavors drawing inspiration from Sicily and classic theory combined with Chef McAndrews’ personal finesse.” This BYOB prides itself on making everything from scratch including their bread – brunch is served on the weekend and they offer a four course tasting menu too.
Modern version of Italian favorites are served up at this local elevated Italian restaurant on East Passyunk Avenue. Passyunk Avenue was voted top 10 food destinations by Food and Wine Magazine. Chef Lynn specializes in homemade pastas, with excellent wine choices available and is open for lunch and dinner.
Enjoy! And let’s raise a glass to good ole’ Pat and Joe!
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Here are two of my fave Irish and Italian recipes for you to try this month!