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Action News Top 6 with Jessica Boyington: Top new restaurants in Philly, Chef Michael Schulson, Fitz on 4th, Hook and Ladder

Nov 30, 2023

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- There are new restaurant options for the new year if you are going to dine out in Philadelphia. I just had to check out a few of them!

Heavy Metal Sausage opened on the corner of Porter and Mole in April 2022. It's a French Charcuterie-deli-trattoria-takeout-deli brick-and-mortar run and owned by couple Patrick Alfiero and Melissa Pellegrino.

All pastas, breads, meats, condiments and ingredients down to the salts are made right here or sourced locally. You can grab some sliced meats and cheeses or a sandwich any Thursday through Saturday. I munched on one of their most popular sandwiches with carrot long hot relish, pickled asparagus, smoked ham and alpine cheese. It was fresh and delicious.

If you manage some reservations, you can have the trattoria sit-down dinner experience in the front of their shop on Thursday and Friday evenings. That's where I gushed over the heavy metal sausage ragu, made with all the meats. (That's Goose rabbit pork and beef.) Cazuela is a traditional South American type of stew, and I'm proud to say I had my first pot of it in South Philly with sausage meatballs and pork ribs.

Tulip Pasta and Wine Bar is a Fishtown passion project brought to life in August by the guys at Wayvine Winery and Chef Alexander Beninato.

Chef created a play on Cacio e Pepe with a little local chili spice added in called the Cacio Pepperocini. (It was easily my favorite!) You can't miss though ordering the pappardelle with lamb ragu, charcoal roasted beet ravioli, or Chef's favorite, crab ravioli with honey nut squash that's slow roasted with a Chesapeake bay sage crab butter.

There are also options outside of the pasta world. There's big eye tuna crudo, and a fried cauliflower with creamy pecorino cheese whiz and crispy shallots. And with every pasta spot there's an unwritten rule: MUST have great bread...and their homemade loaf of focaccia set the bar HIGH for bread everywhere.

Fitz on 4th opened in Queen Village in 2022, and is owned and operated by Alison Fitzpatrick and her son Alex.

The menu is strictly vegan, and the space is beautifully modern with an earthy atmosphere.

If you eat anything here, let it be the Nonna Meatballs with grilled garlic bread. (If I didn't already know it was a vegan dish, I wouldn't have been able to tell.) The kale and arugula salad was delicious, too; it was topped with Parmesan cheese made from cashews! The edamame dumplings were crunchy and plated over a mushroom soy garlic sauce. I also tried an order of mushroom walnut tacos and garlicky mushroom cavatappi pasta.

Of course, I washed everything down with a rum and pineapple cocktail called The Eagles Nest.

If you look way up high above The Hotel West and Main in Conshohocken, you will find Hook and Ladder Sky Bar and Kitchen. It's a restaurant with an elevated steak and seafood concept built right inside the historic Washington Fire Company Station.

They make fire-themed cocktails like the Knob Creek-based Slow Burn with charred cinnamon and apple. The Downtown Heat is a mix of spicy tequila, sweet hibiscus and edible flower garnish.

The onion soup was loaded with gruyere cheese and crispy onions; the hamachi crudo with truffle practically melted in my mouth; and the jalapeño topped spicy tuna bites with crispy rice had the perfect amount of heat. If you're a meat lover, you will have your choice of several expertly aged cuts like a 28-ounce porterhouse. It will arrive seared to perfection and sliced tableside.

Chef Michael Schulson's 2 additions

If you love the local food scene, you know the name Michael Schulson.

Chef Schulson has numerous eateries throughout the Delaware Valley.

And within the past few months, he's added two more to his Philadelphia portfolio.

At 13th and Sansom sits Prunella, an upscale but casual Italian concept by Michael Shulson. Their motto is "eat pizza, feel good."

Here, grabbing a pie and a tequila cocktail at the bar is a no-fuss affair, but there will be some "ooh-ing" and "ahh-ing" over the menu. The spicy Caesar salad with breadcrumbs is as perfect as a Caesar can be. The whipped ricotta with burnt honey drizzle on toasted sourdough was heavenly, and I couldn't help but stuff myself with the red sauce rigatoni with guanciale and pecorino.

Good luck picking one of their nine delicious pizzas...I'm thankful they chose the pepperoni with provolone and pickled Fresno peppers for me!

Right across the street, you'll find another Shulson space, Pearl and Mary, a raw bar named after his grandmother and mother.

There's a classic and gorgeously presented raw bar right as you walk in the door.

But if oysters aren't your thing, no worries!

There's a fabulous seafood menu to choose from. The steamed snapper was light and full of flavor. This garlicky shallot and tomato-sautéed shrimp are piled high on top of a thick cut of buttery garlic bread, making the best shrimp toast you've ever had. And the buttery lobster roll with crispy fries and mustard aioli almost brought a tear to my eye. (It might just be the best one I've ever had.)

I washed it down easily with the "hot pink and spicy"...a tequila-based cocktail with a citrus twist.

I'm also typically not a dessert person, but their pecan upside-down cake could make a believer out of anyone.