These 3 Philly spots made New York Times' 2021 Restaurant List

The Times sent critics, reporters and editors around the country to find the most 'delicious' restaurants.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021
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PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Three Philadelphia eateries have made this year's New York Times' Restaurant List.

The Restaurant List, as the newspaper describes it, is compiled of the "50 places in America we're most excited about right now."

The Times sent critics, reporters and editors around the country to find these restaurants - the ones the paper calls most "vibrant" and "delicious."

Though there are 50 of them, the Times says they are not ranked.

"But together they reflect the rich mosaic of American dining," the newspaper said.

Korshak Bagels

"The mission of Korshak Bagels is to nourish and delight everyone who eats our bagels," Korshak's website says.

The South Philly shop says what they serve is not a Montreal bagel or a New York bagel, but a Korshak bagel.

The restaurant says the bagels are made with "a natural, wild yeast fermented starter - named Helen Mirren - and go through a 48-hour slow-rise process."

They are boiled or poached and then baked in a deck oven on soaked cedar boards wrapped in burlap "before they are flipped onto the hearthstone of the deck, resulting in a bagel that is crisp and chewy, delicious and delightful."

The owner Phil Korshak is from Brooklyn and has been making bagels since 2003.

The New York Time's Nikita Richardson writes:

"Anyone who has ever enjoyed a New York bagel tends to go in search of that doughy delight even when far from the city. Korshak Bagels will make you crave a Philly bagel, which in this case means a pillowy-soft, sourdough bagel with a healthy schmear of cream cheese made with mozzarella rind and goat's milk. If this sounds like culinary poetry, that's because the bagels' maker, Philip Korshak, is himself a poet who believes that 'the love and respect for the bagels will feed our hearts.'"

The bagel shop posted a link to The New York Times' article on Instagram, where its customers are cheering on its success.

Photographer Colin Lenton, who photographed Korshak for Philadelphia Magazine's Best of Philly issue earlier this year, says "Philip and his team of bagel mongers do such an incredible job it can be hard to describe. If it sounds like everyone is creating unattainable expectations, you owe it to yourself to go and see what the stir is all about."

Laser Wolf

The restaurant on North Howard Street in Kensington from Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook is an Israeli grill.

It is named after Lazar Wolf, the butcher from the musical "Fiddler on the Roof."

The kitchen is led by executive chef Andrew Henshaw who grew up in the Lehigh Valley.

From the James Beard-winning Zahav to new spot Laser Wolf, the top chef is back serving up great food for takeout during the pandemic.

The Times' Richardson writes:

"Any restaurateur of a certain pedigree will say that the longer a place is around, the harder it is to keep up with the tastes of the restaurant-going public. Laser Wolf is a rare exception. Philadelphians of all ages are obsessed with this restaurant from Mike Solomonov and Steve Cook (their eighth project) and its fantastic array of meze-like salatim (schug with sweet pineapple and bitter celery, creamy kale baba ghanouj) and hearty grilled skewers. There's also a new entree, lamb served barbecue-style with pita fresh from the oven and two kinds of pickled cabbage. Few restaurants give as much flavorful bang for the buck, and what's more exciting than that?"

The restaurant wrote a message on its Instagram account:

"Thank you to our team who works with such determination to make it nice every single night! Thank you to our amazing guests, and to @nomnomnikita and @nytcooking @nytimes. We are extremely fired up to be a part of The 2021 Restaurant List with these special places from across the country."

Down North Pizza

The Strawberry Mansion pizza shop on Lehigh Avenue is a mission-led for-profit restaurant.

"We exclusively employ formerly incarcerated individuals while providing culinary career opportunities at a fair wage and equitable workplace," the restaurant's website says.

RELATED: How this not so ordinary pizzeria aims to reduce recidivism rate in North Philadelphia

Muhammad Abdul-Hadi is one of the founders and owners of Down North Pizza. He is a graduate of West Philadelphia High School and Temple University, with a degree in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement.

Action News spoke with chef Kurt Evans, the other founder, in October 2020 about the pizza shop's origins.

"We decided to take a property and turn it into a space that was equitable and fair for formerly incarcerated people coming home from prison," Evans said.

"Philadelphia has a recidivism rate of about 35 percent," he continued. "What we wanted to do was bring something to a neighborhood like Strawberry Mansion and give the people something of good quality as in food, and we also wanted to bring good people in to give them good quality jobs."

The executive chef is Michael Carter - also known as Mike, The Miz, and the Flavor Regulator. He's worked at various restaurants including Porta, Booker's and V Street.

"Having spent a total of 12 years incarcerated (at various intervals) Carter is not only someone that benefits from Down North's Pizza mission of reducing recidivism, but is also a role model for everyone in the community," the restaurant says.

The Times' Richardson writes:

"A mission like Down North's - to provide gainful employment for the formerly incarcerated - would normally be enough to land a restaurant on any number of laudatory lists. But the pizza (Detroit-style, delicious and well worth the trip beyond Philadelphia's Center City) is why it deserves a place on this list. Take the pie called Uptown Vibes: Pungent red peppers and red onions dot the sauce, a perfect complement to earthy kale and mushrooms, and the generous serving size will feed one person for days."

Making the list did not go unnoticed, as Down North Pizza posted this message to its Instagram:

"We are honored to be part of @Nytimes "The Restaurant List 2021" as one of @nytcooking editors' 50 Best picks. Thank you @nomnomnikita and everyone at @nytcooking for sharing our mission and our story!"

Down North Pizza was featured in an episode of "FYI Philly" earlier this year.

With dough made from flour imported from Italy to mission-based restaurants that hire formerly incarcerated staff to toppings one can only dream of, Philly chefs are remixing their