As per tradition, Eater asked a group of journalists, bloggers, and friends of the site to weigh in on the year in food. Here, Philly’s dining experts answer the question: “What was your best restaurant meal of 2017?”
Adam Erace, freelance writer: Jesse Ito's omakase at Royal Sushi & Izakaya is one of the best dining experiences in the city right now. He makes the most delicious rice I've eaten, and the quality of the seafood is unparalleled. Bonkers sake list too, and the staff is well-versed in the details. I love the serenity and intimacy of the back room's sushi counter. Watching Jesse work is hypnotic — like a contemporary dance performance with fish and rice.
Wendy Ramunno, freelance writer/editor and local editor at Zagat: A little bit of everything at Palizzi Social Club, including the stellar cocktails.
Drew Lazor, Philadelphia-based freelance writer and author of the upcoming Session Cocktails (Ten Speed Press, May 2018): Vernick. I am happy for all their success; they deserve it.
Sarah Maiellano, food and travel freelance writer for local and national outlets, including Eater: Friday Saturday Sunday, Marigold Kitchen, and A Mano.
Alex Tewfik, food editor, Philadelphia magazine: Toss-up between Zeppoli and Friday Saturday Sunday.
Joy Manning, editor of Edible Philly: I’m going to interpret “best” to mean most fun and most memorable and say the family style kamayan dinner at Perla. I showed up without any knowledge or expectations about what this dinner is. The table was covered with huge leaves onto which all the food was simply plopped. There was no silverware. First, a server dumped a pile of garlic-scented rice onto the leaves, and then vegetables, spring rolls, and pork belly pieces were layered on top. Next a whole fried fish and fully half a chicken were piled on. And finally there were at least three homemade sauces added to the mix to apply as you wish to the whole beautiful mess. People were sitting around, many of them dressed up, and everyone seemed a little unsure and uncomfortable at first. But there’s just no other way to experience it other than to embrace it, dive in, tear the chicken apart with your hands, scoop the rice up in your fingertips. It’s funny, it’s messy, it’s delicious, and it was the best time I had at a restaurant in 2017 hands down. Additionally, the leftovers fed my husband and me for two more days. I can’t recommend this dining experience more highly!