It was a visit to his hometown of Philadelphia where Michael Schwartz met Michael Solomonov in the summer of 2011. We were there for the first time supporting Marc Vetri and his family foundation’s efforts with Alex’s Lemonade Stand through its annual Great Chefs Event. Michael made scrapple. It killed.
When any of the #genuineteam is on the road, traveling for events and other funny business, we relish dining at local friends’ restaurants. It has some to do with inspiration, a lot with chef camaraderie, a little sense of adventure, and 100 percent love. This trip our extracurricular destination would be Zahav. Earlier in May, we had booked dinner there immediately after its chef/owner, Solomonov, won 2011 Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic at the James Beard Awards. After meeting him on his home turf, he insisted we change our reservation for later Thursday evening so he could be there. So at 9:30 p.m. we arrived to the Society Hill neighborhood, walking through the street lamp haze of a light drizzle to drink Israeli Sauvignon Blanc and feast on Salatim – a rainbow of small salads and pickled vegetables, Mina – beef brisket with crisp matzoh and coffee, and the chef’s signature – a fall-off-the-bone lamb shoulder. The meat was tender and juicy, lacquered with pomegranate glaze and slow roasted whole for three days until it was rested atop crispy Lebanese rice studded with nutty chick peas. Other dishes paraded out of the kitchen. There was the genuine hospitality of Arak, an anise flavored aperitif not unlike ouzo, flowing over ice-filled glasses in front of us. These gestures were beyond generous and appreciated, and then Solomonov’s recommendation for lunch before leaving the following day really did us in. And we were to headed to 9th and Race in Chinatown to find it? The next morning, luggage safely in hotel storage, we set out due northeast following Solomonov’s trail of crumbs. They led to Zan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House and a feast of hot chili oil pig ears and hand drawn noodles!
So now, with mouth-watered and a spirit of adventure percolating, we invite you to Harry’s now 18th (!?) chef pop-up as we welcome Michael Solomonov of Zahav restaurant (and Percy Street BBQ and Federal Doughnuts) on Tuesday, August 27 at 7:00 p.m. The Israel-born, Pittsburgh-raised chef brings to the table a fresh and simply delicious take on his Jewish and Middle Eastern heritage influenced by his travels and career in French, Italian, and Mexican kitchens in Philadelphia. We cannot wait to see what will be on the table! Catch him in a cameo here with some other past popping, genuinely good eggs we know and love in Jeff Michaud’s Vice Munchies episode, and read his full story in the same spot where you get tickets!