Global Flavors, Local Treasures

May 20, 2016

For me, nightly dinner with the family, sharing our day’s events, has taken a back seat as my kids grew up and work schedules varied. What hasn’t changed, though, is the role food plays in our family “get togethers.” I can literally associate specific memories with specific food. I learned of my niece’s pregnancy over a shared plate of nachos; my daughter’s need for advice often starts with a phone call request: “You want to go get something to eat?” Many of my life celebrations have been at a restaurant table with my family sharing love and laughter.

They say the best way to know a culture is through its food. If that’s true, the culture of Lansdowne is woven with diversity. The different restaurants in Lansdowne are expressions of deep cultural roots linked tightly with the families that run them.

Laura Frangiosa, owner and chef of The Avenue Deli, has always loved food and cooking. When Laura was a child, her mother was a home economics teacher and nurtured her interests. Laura states: “Being Italian, food is always in the forefront of all things. My husband Joshua is Jewish and it turns out the Jewish/Italian concept is a really great culinary match, too!” The Avenue Deli merges Italian and Jewish homey-type foods into an unusual and delicious fused menu, a popular trend in dining.

Regency Cafe is our premier coffee shop woven with breakfast and brunch specialties. Their pastries are baked from scratch daily at their location. They support the arts by featuring an artist of the month and host poetry events titled “Rhyme, Rhythm, and Reason.” When you sit in this cafe eating a fresh pastry, drinking your favorite latte, and taking in the art, it is a little bit of stress relief everyone should enjoy.

Another popular fusion restaurant in Lansdowne is AviAnna. Mixing new and traditional forms of Thai and Laotian cuisine, AviAnna offers a unique Asian menu of fresh, healthy and delicious traditional food pleasures of the orient with an added variety of distinctive house specialty dishes. Bounta Phengsisouk is the owner and his restaurant is such a family affair that the family works with him and the restaurant is named after his granddaughter.

Spicy’s Kitchen is now at the location of the former Faaji and offers a West African menu slightly favoring a Liberian food menu. Recently they have added some Nigerian style dishes. They combine their menu with local and renowned live bands and comedians from the African entertainment community for some specialty dining nights.

David Lu and his family own and operate the The Great Wall. Their Chinese cuisine is made to order and they offer delivery. So if your family memory calls for a variety of options delivered to your door, Great Wall fits the bill. They also offer no salt, no oil, no sugar, all-steamed cook, and lower calorie options.

Fusion is right in the name for The Icery, which combines the words “ice” and “bakery.” Danny and Avril Losacco are the owners of this gelato/water ice boutique. Danny’s love and memories of the water ice trucks in Philadelphia where he grew up were part of the inspiration to open The Icery. The Losacco children are part of the business as well and are following in the footsteps of their parents by combining different ingredients to create gelato/water ice flavor masterpieces such as Chocolate Pomogranate.

A great collaboration with The Icery is Kia’s Cakes at The Icery. Kia, who bakes delicious goodies ranging from wedding cakes to cookies, sells her fare at The Icery. While The Icery has their off season and are dreaming up their summer flavors, Kia is busy baking her comfort-style masterpieces and sells from the store. During the summer months, she can be found at the Lansdowne Farmers Market on Saturdays. Kia uses natural ingredients including unbleached flour, aluminum-free baking powders, organic milk, real butter, sea salt and pure vanilla. She avoids using ingredients such as shortenings and high-fructose corn syrup. My personal favorite is her Hummingbird Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Whether winter or summer, you can order online and pick up your order at Kia’s Cakes at The Icery.

A mainstay in Lansdowne is Seventh Avenue Grill, a true local favorite. Owner Pete Filios fuses some Greek and American favorites along with Broaster Chicken to complete his menu options. Whether you opt to have breakfast at the counter in the American diner atmosphere or lunch out on the summer back patio, the locals consider this location – and Pete’s cooking — their home away from home.

Most recently, Patrone’s BYOB and Jamey’s House of Music have announced their fusion. Musician Jamey Reilly and his wife Suyun, who is a Cantonese chef, have purchased Patrone and are working with the current chef to continue to offer Patrone’s Italian/Japanese mix cuisine. Their son Weijun, who was formerly the head sushi chef at Doma, and Shiroi Hana in Center City, and sushi chef at Kabuki in King of Prussia, is adding sushi to the menu. All of this combines to make the most unique East/West menu. Soon, Jamey hopes to renovate the second floor and offer a cozy gourmet coffee, tea and dessert shop where you can also enjoy top quality musical performances. Jamey stated, “We will open up the space and give it a loft-like feel, complete with a professional stage and high-end sound, recording, web broadcast and lighting system. Our schedule will feature a weekly jazz night, blues night, folk night with radio personality Gene Shay, and a concert night with touring bands from the world over!”

Lansdowne embraces the diversity of the community and this is reflected in the food choices available here. Bring your family and friends to visit one of our restaurants to create your own memories fused with food.

Turning the Corner Blog by Jeanne Ketcham

Jeanne is a resident of Lansdowne and the Program Coordinator for the Lansdowne Economic Development Corporation.

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